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Don't criticise what you don't understand, son

Published:Tuesday | July 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Shawn Harrison, Guest Columnist

Why is it that everybody wants to have the heads of teachers? I would have imagined that by now everyone, including the youth, would appreciate that the recently published rankings of secondary schools should not be used as the only variable to measure the overall performance of secondary schools.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants to appreciate that fact. To add insult to injury, there are some in our society who believe, 'kill dem dead', teachers are not doing anything in our schools, based on this report.

Foremost among them is Mr Jaevion Nelson, who made some rank pronouncements with regard to that belief in his article titled 'Who holds our teachers accountable?' (Gleaner, June 12, 2014). However, what was most alarming about Mr Nelson's article were the gross generalisations and warped conclusions that he spewed out.

The first one appears at the beginning of the article: "One hundred and twenty schools across the island are wasting taxpayers' money ... ." Of course, no honest person, in his or her reasonable mind would believe that statement. Schools provide an environment for academic and vocational learning and training besides developing one's social skills that will make him or her a well-rounded citizen who contributes to nation-building.

I hardly believe there is any teacher in these so-called failing schools who can find time to waste. Not even our lunchtime we can waste. While eating, we have to be marking some child's book or SBA or helping out in the canteen or some other duty.

Helping students

But, it does not stop there: The little money that we collect we use some of it to help our students to buy lunch, a crest, a bag, a belt, a pen or to pay their bus fare. We give up many afternoons, weekends and holidays to teach our students, with little or no compensation. Yet, this man had the gall to ask, "What on earth are our teachers doing?" Well, categorically, the teachers' answer is, "A heaven of a lot!"

Why on earth would teachers get satisfaction from seeing their students fail, Mr Nelson? Furthermore, why not ask some more probing questions? What are the parents/guardians doing to assist their children not to fail? How is the Ministry of Education assisting principals with the resources to aid in the teaching and learning process? But maybe the big question for you is, what are you and corporate Jamaica doing to assist these 120 schools to gain better passes in five or more CSEC subjects? How many individuals in corporate Jamaica, including you, Mr Nelson, can say they have been to one of these schools to volunteer their time and expertise with a group of students?

The second outrageous comment made by Mr Nelson was: "The vast majority of our students could not be so inept and carefree about their education."

Sir, please, arise from your slumber and stop daydreaming! I am sure you are not from Jupiter! You really need to spend a day or half a day in one of our high schools, especially the non-traditional ones. While you do that, don't forget to stop by the JUTC transport centre in Half-Way Tree. You will see more than inept and carefree students.

Impact of technology

Unquestionably, that is the sad and stark reality of many of our students. They are more interested in the latest gadgets and spend a vast amount of time on social media such as Facebook rather than dedicating that time to reading and completing assignments.

The pertinent question is how are we going to tackle this crisis.

You mentioned in your article that we need to develop strategies for these failing schools. That is true, and so I thought you would have been the first to lay one on the table. Stop being captious and put on your thinking cap and bear in mind the shrewd words of Elvis Presley: "Don't criticise what you don't understand, son. You never walked in that man's shoes."

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