Fri | Sep 21, 2018

We can learn from US model

Published:Monday | March 7, 2016 | 12:00 AM


A recent article from Yahoo News questioning whether colleges should consider punishment given to applicants in high school has highlighted a recent discussion I had on the nature of our own matriculation requirements.

As we know by now, the United States requires candidates seeking matriculation to colleges to produce records of their high-school performance, while we merely look at their external (CXC) results. The pros and cons are as follows: Consistency is the key in the USA. The candidate is assessed on work done over a protracted period, not some one-off exam(s), as we do. As a teacher, I can tell you, students often idle in and out of class until near the time for the CXC exams when they buckle down, because they know they are all that matters. And, with today's Information Age, they are able to access the information ignored in class and still pass the course.

"What is wrong with this?" you may ask. Well, first, the teacher is increasingly being blamed for failure of students and lack of class management in Jamaica today, when it is the student who is delinquent. Then, when they rush to these extra classes and/or online sources and pass the CXC exam, the student is said to have passed "in spite of the classroom teacher". And all this in an age when teachers are more qualified and formally evaluated than ever! I hold three degrees, inclusive of a master's and another in teacher training, yet still teach at the high-school level.

The second and perhaps greater point is that when our Jamaican students enter college, they are ill-prepared for the rigours of five to six courses every semester (three- to four-month cycles) because they idle a year or two before buckling down a few weeks (or even days) before CXCs.

Then there is professional/work life thereafter. They are bound to be poor workers because they are undisciplined. In fact, sociology states that the classroom is a microcosm of society and, as one senior educator put it, "Student life is so often a preface to work/professional life".