Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Kids don't learn culture by magic

Published:Saturday | July 23, 2016 | 7:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I support columnist Carolyn Cooper's view (Sunday, July 17) that the Ministry of Education is largely at fault where GSAT students fail at questions related to Jamaican and Caribbean social and cultural matters.

Furthermore, what are 'easy answers' for viewers at home may be anything but easy for very young children under the glare and stress of a TV quiz show, so we can't blame the youth. I have always argued that the primary syllabus should return to teaching civics and culture at basic levels (as separate from social science) to give our young an early grounding in what it means to be Jamaican.

Very few schools, and even fewer families by ratio, embrace such thinking today. The idea that culture will somehow seep into the individual's brain without formal teaching has become accepted. This is as erroneous as thinking that children will grow into responsible citizens without training and mentoring.

In addition to absorbing knowledge, our young people must learn ethics and philosophy, and, moreover, learn how to think critically in order to compete in this technology-driven global village.

We all know that bad habits are more easily adopted than good ones. As far as social media goes, we are sadly in danger of losing a huge chunk of the essential Jamaican culture itself. Notice how seriously the speaking and writing of English have slipped behind the usage of phone texts, rap, and slang.

These days, even our upper and middle classes speak glibly of 'persons' instead of using the correct plural, which is 'people'.

On the other hand, I am happy that more people (not persons) are embracing 'di Jamaica language'. Our local speech is most beautiful and picturesque - to the world as Usain Bolt might say. Yet it cannot, in my view, displace English for commerce, diplomacy, and international negotiations.

I fear that Ms Cooper and many others may disagree with me there. But that is another discussion entirely.

GLEN MCFARLANE

Former President, Press

Association of Jamaica

glenmc20@yahoo.com