Sat | Dec 16, 2017

Letter of the Day | Who will lead change in education?

Published:Thursday | October 19, 2017 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I do agree with the editorial 'Dr Lambert and critical thinking' (The Gleaner, October 17, 2017), that the intervention by the university lecturer will stimulate further discussion on this matter of education, politics and communications.

There are more variables that contribute to the ability of the politicians to manipulate the masses. Against this background, I strongly support the view of holding the educational institutions as part of the problem. Permit me to mention two important studies conducted in 1961 and published in the Journal of Caribbean Studies in 1962: 'Politics and Communication' and 'The Jamaican Constitution of 1962'.

The two studies offer extensive ideas on communication, education and language in a post-colonial space. In both instances, linguistic deficit was the central concern of the researchers. It was expressed that matters concerning superstition and high rates of illiteracy are associated with the susceptibility of the majority of the people to be manipulated by politicians. The question of who is to be blamed for this deficit of critical thinking is not a complex one, but the issue is certainly complex; and as such, this is a time when philosophy matters.

Should the politicians be blamed for the critical thinking deficit? Or should we attribute this weakness to the educational system and institutions? I am thinking that it is both. The political elite in Jamaica at independence made no real change in society. There were hardly any new ideas; certainly, for education there was none. Educators and educational institutions need to take education beyond psychology and pedagogy into a new sphere, including sociology, history and philosophy creating a new education regime. A member of the teaching faculty at The Mico in 'Five-in-four: full STEAM ahead' (The Gleaner, October 11, 2017) identifies the central problem concerning education as the colonial system of education, but it had to do with more than stratification. I agree it was not designed to empower or having emancipatory qualities. Colonial education in Jamaica is informed by rote learning. This system of education militates against critical, creative and innovative thinking. Herein lies the problem.

The CXC examiners, in recent years, saw the critical thinking deficit and redesigned exams hoping to close the deficit, but the curriculum remained written in stone. The problem is the need for a new philosophy of education that will provide a new thinking in that field, and also a system of education for an independent people.

Democracy, if it exists, requires more than an educated people. It demands a people with acute self-knowledge and knowledge of the self. The political leaders at independence, I do not think, were deliberate in not changing the colonial system of education, but it was a serious omission. The article, 'Mindless Jamaicans', (The Gleaner, October 16, 2017) made a broad charge that will certainly stimulate further debate on philosophy and change in education. It begs the question, who will lead change in education?

Louis E.A. Moyston, PhD

Independent political commentator