Sun | Dec 8, 2019

Int'l Men's Day 2019 | The right fit?

Published:Tuesday | November 19, 2019 | 12:11 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer -

Improving the poor performance of learners at all levels of the education system, chiefly boys, and the need for better trained education personnel are two of the major challenges highlighted in Vision 2030.

Gleaner editors and reporters asked a panel of young males at a recent youth forum where young men fit in the current education system

The majority of the panellists were of the view that the system does not cater to them, but among the more than 12 young males, there was one dissenting voice. The youngster asserted that the education system is not designed against males but against low performance.

Toussaint Robinson, Calabar High: “I don’t think that they fit in at all. This educational system is tailored for females because within a classroom, you see where a teacher comes in the classroom, it’s more chalk and talk. They just go to the board, write something, read something from a book and they expect the students to lear,n but this is not usually the case for males as males are more tactile, more kinesthetic learners so they don’t fit in the educational system.”

Kuwayne Campbell, The University of the West Indies, Mona: “For some of our young men, our education system makes us complete fools because they see nothing and hear nothing of ordinary life there. Most teachers don’t understand that there are different psychological developments between girls and boys. We, as a society, also have a lower expectation of males when it comes to learning.”

Jamar Grant, Godfrey Stewart High: “In the Jamaican education system, only the fit survive. It is just unfortunate that the males are among the majority that don’t really pass or excel as we would want them to. The system is not created to spoon-feed anybody ... . We are given the same resources, and even if we aren’t given the same, we all have the opportunity to go beyond our comfort zones and excel ... . It is a lazy thing to think that we are at a disadvantage, society is not created for us, so we can't just stay down here and complain. Women fail, too!”

Tajmaar Miller, Jamaica College: “We sit, somewhat, at the base of our education system as I believe the education system is geared towards seeing females improve, per se. Males [are shafted] in terms of the psychological aspect of it and how it is structured.”

Nackeemi Smith, Jamaica College: “If you look at the CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations) and CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) rankings, the female schools are on top. The all-male schools are not. Some are not in the top 10, and this is mainly because of our mindset ­– women are better, women are this, women are that. If we change this, there can be a change in our education system.”

Education Consultant Dr Hixwell Douglas sided with the majority, noting that he has worked with students who have behavioural and learning challenges.

With the majority of them being boys, he said: “Their learning styles are different or more skewed towards the practical, hands-on, experiential kind of learning – that they learn best when you captivate their interest with music and games.

“Girls are more left-brain oriented, which is the reasoning centre, and boys are the more artistic, fun, experimental type, but after they get to about 15 or 16, they balance out,” Douglas said.

During his time at the Ministry of Education, Douglas developed and hosted several workshops to educate teachers on how to teach boys effectively.

Douglas’ idea of the ideal classroom is one that facilitates practical learning for males, noting that “the girls will learn with or without it”. He said the new curriculum speaks to exploration and engagement of students and this must be embraced by teachers if boys are to excel.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com