Meet a GSAT author: More than a GSAT book - Dorothy Noel says textbook designed for lifelong learning
If you did the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) examination after 2008, there is a good chance that you would have used the book Carlong Integrated Practice Tests: Language Arts to prepare for the GSAT Language Arts examination.
The book was authored by retired publisher Dorothy Noel and has helped scores of students to pass the examination.
Noel, who served 11 years as a teacher of English at Camperdown High School before transitioning to a career in publishing, still speaks with passion about education and her love of imparting knowledge.
Noel told The Gleaner that she decided to write the GSAT textbook because of her previous experience in writing books for the Common Entrance examination, the precursor to GSAT.
"I was commissioned by Mrs Shirley Carby, the manager of Longman Jamaica. She wanted to publish a Common Entrance book, so she came to Camperdown and commissioned me. So that is really how it started. The first Common Entrance book I wrote for Longman was an instant best-seller, so it was only natural that we continued to do new editions over the years. So the genesis of the GSAT book was way back in 1981 when I wrote the Common Entrance book," she explained.
Noel stressed the importance of an active imagination in generating materials for a GSAT book. This, she says, is needed to ensure that the material is stimulating for children. Her classroom experience and training in theatre arts and drama in education proved helpful in this regard.
"Outside of many of the comprehension passages, the rest of it comes from your head and imagination. So all the items that are written in this book were created by me," she said.
Noel said that she also conducted extensive interviews with students and teachers across Jamaica as she was preparing materials for the book. For Noel, the book was meant to be a tool for lifelong learning and also a companion text for Carlong's Revision Guide for Junior English, a book she co-authored with her husband, Keith Noel, and colleague, Myrtle Kellier.
"Having been a trained teacher, I would have been aware of the kinds of interests of students because I maintain that even though you are writing a book for kids to practise so they can pass GSAT, for me, it was far more important than that. My interest has always been educating the young people. So this book is not just a set of items that simulate the GSAT exams. It is a language skills building product," she explained.