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‘Pentecostal’ teaching could unlock students’ potential, says expert

Published:Wednesday | October 23, 2019 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Award-winning Jamaican producer Mikey Bennett (left) and keynote speaker Chris Emdin, associate professor of science education at Teachers College, Columbia University at the Inaugural Education Revolution Conference Jamaica 2019 held at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium at Jamaica College yesterday.

An expert has asserted that the failure to revolutionise the country’s education system to usher in new methods of teaching to make students crave information would be a betrayal of the nation’s children.

Speaking at the inaugural Education Revolution Conference at Jamaica College yesterday, Chris Emdin, associate professor of science education at Teachers College, Columbia University, proposed a “Pentecostal” approach as the solution.

“To educate in 2019 and 2020 is not to give young folks information. It’s to instil in them a passion for information. If you trigger the passion of a young person, they will pursue knowledge in any domain they want,” Emdin said as he addressed mainly primary- and secondary-level principals and teachers from across the island.

He said education must be positioned “towards a faith-based and Pentecostal cultural pedagogy”, as there is no education without faith.

“Where is the faith in young folks that they are geniuses? Do you believe in them? Some of you believe in the chair that you’re sitting on more than the students you’re teaching?” he asked.

According to Emdin, the best assessment of effective teaching, using the approach, is not a reflection of what content gets delivered but the emotion that is generated in the students.

Classrooms as free spaces

Emdin explained that the same way dancehall and the Church evoke spiritual release for people, classrooms can be a liberating space for students.

“Freedom is the anchor of learning. If a young person is free and unconcerned about how they are being perceived, they are open to learning,” he said, adding that oftentimes, students are unable to learn because they are concerned with respectability.

“It takes brainpower to always look the part before you even own the part. They are so preoccupied with obedience that they can’t learn. ‘Cause obedience takes up mental space – ‘let me not walk that way, let me not talk that way’. That uses up about 65 per cent of brainpower,” he told the educators as they observed the theme ‘Connecting for Excellence in Education’.

Edmin said education is a localised enterprise and it was never intended to be standardised. He added that if teachers want to become revolutionary, they must seek constant feedback from those receiving instruction.