Mon | Dec 11, 2017

'We have to get innovative' - Top principal urges schools to find more creative ways to engage students

Published:Monday | October 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Kandi-Lee Crooks-Smith, principal, Allman Town Primary School

One of the country's top school principals says the education system is not meeting the needs of some of its most brilliant children because it lacks innovation.

Speaking during a joint meeting of the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights and the Rotary Club of Liguanea Plains at Phoenix Central in St Andrew recently, Kandi-Lee Crooks Smith, principal of Allman Town Primary in Kingston, said the education system needs a revolution.

She was addressing the topic 'Is the Education System Meeting the Needs of Our Development Strategy?' in observance of Rotary's focus on basic education and literacy for the month of September.

"The system does not consider brilliant minds, and so they fail," she said, underscoring that the means of testing students, for example, ought to be expanded.

"I have taught students who have a phobia for exams - brilliant students and they work extremely well during the year, but once you say exam and you put those desks and chairs, military style into rows and columns, they go blank," the LASCO Principal of the Year for 2015-2016 explained.

"These brilliant minds are not allowed to sit a national placement exam that can determine what happens next."

Making reference to some of the actions she has taken in her own school, Crooks-Smith said schools should stop tying themselves to curricula and explore what engages children and use that in order to enhance the teaching and learning process.

Noting the introduction of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) to Allman Town Primary, to engage especially boys, for example, she said similar actions can be undertaken by schools to engage their students.

"I am of the view that even at the primary level, our children can do the TVET subjects. They can develop the skills and master them," she argued.

She noted that exposing the children to various areas builds their capacity and confidence, highlighting that the same failing class was taught Japanese, which improved their literacy in English dramatically.

"We put aside the curriculum by the ministry and wrote our own, because it hadn't worked for six years. We taught the students Japanese and electrical circuitry," she said.

She said Jamaica needs to explore and discover how its children learn, which, she argued, is different from children in other parts of the world.