Wed | Jan 26, 2022

Misunderstanding Minister Thwaites

Published:Monday | August 24, 2015 | 3:39 PM


I believe Ms Shanica Blair, writer of 'Don't lose hope in 'leggo beast' children' (Gleaner, August 22, 2015), erred in her interpretation of Mr Ronald Thwaites' instruction to parents. Recently, the education minister stated that parents should not send 'leggo beast' children to school and expect teachers to remould them.

Ms Blair concluded that the minister was instructing parents to keep children of the foregoing ilk out of the school system. Ms Blair stated, "Forcing 'leggo beast' children" out of school will just cause them to become confused, hardened, embittered, and fall behind in their studies - the perfect recipe for them to become hardened criminals."

Surely, Ms Blair's hypothesis is logical, but its foundation is based on a gross misinterpretation.

Mr Thwaites is well-lettered, and he is quite au fait with the legal parameters of his purview. Therefore, he could not have proposed preventing disruptive or uncouth children from attending school. Certainly, such practice would run afoul of a child's universal right to education.

The minister's metaphor was decontextualised, and he was made to seem rather thoughtless in the mentioned article. He was, essentially, encouraging parents and teachers alike to dedicate sufficient time to the holistic grooming of their children. He wants to ameliorate the psychosocial environment of our schools so that seeds of excellence can flourish.

Minister Thwaites understands that he cannot deny unruly children an education, but he can certainly encourage parents to train their children before and during their academic enrolment.

The minister wants parents to stop expecting teachers to miraculously reform their children. The schools will accept the 'leggo beast', but parents must not expect that teachers will become surrogates and assume responsibilities beyond the already arduous task of tutelage.

In fact, for the first time, the minister has apparently recognised the imposing strain on teachers, who often have to deviate from academic instruction to address behavioural issues. His directive was, therefore, in favour of teachers and students whose progress is being threatened by children who are outwardly ill-intentioned and need meaningful at-home attention.

Yes, Mr Thwaites' language, though literary, was unmilled. However, his vernacular offers a fitting description of the behaviour displayed by many of our children who need to be trained and tempered with love.


Old Harbour, St Catherine