Document | Article: Proposals for Education Ministry and System in Jamaica
For a long time the media and most thinks have purported the idea that we live in the information age. We live an age where cell phones and gadgetry pervade all walks of life. Computers and the internet are constantly creeping into our lives. Sociologists will contend that the family is the primary agent of socialization. But most of know and will very well contend that it is the TV. Especially in an age where the family is in crisis and in the third world where the core notion of family lives in a state of flux, the television and cable have taken prominence.
Folklore, Anansy and the oral tradition have been usurped by Sponge Bob, Dora and Hannah Montana. With absentee or limited supervision parenting rampant and the television controlling brain space and time at all times and any given hour, whilst the education system will only have them for 6 to 7 out of 24 hours much of which will be ruled by televisions and corner time no wonder we are unable to transmit and pass on the education, knowledge and morals we need to.
Mister Minister on the heels of your party’s message of change and changing the course, the courses and course of the education system has changed little. At this crucial moment in history the education system with all its short comings are in need of radical overhaul and requires new approaches and revolutionary thought. We need to design a curriculum to stimulate the development of analytical skills. The thing I care most about is that we focus not on the specific set of tools, but on the ability to “learn and apply a current tool set”.
The truth is that we constantly acquire and discard sets of tools. So we should not be fixated on one specific set of tools for all of life. Society, technology and the times change so fast that any fact, process or algorithm we learn at school is by definition not going to be useful for any length of time. The real skills that serve us are the ability to adapt, learn, apply the products of that learning, and participate in the discussions and challenges of the day. That doesn’t mean that facts are useless, or that specific tools don’t matter. Unless you can demonstrate an ability to absorb and apply both, fast, you haven’t actually gained the knack of becoming effective in a given environment.
How can we better communicate with them?
The traditional talk and chalk won’t work with this generation. Our communication style is structured, yet they want freedom. The old order stresses learning, they like experiencing. We react, they relate. We focus on the individual, while they are socially driven. Here are four essentials to consider when engaging with youth today:
Not only must our communication style be credible, but we must be also. They don’t expect us to know all about their lifestyle, nor do they want us to embrace their culture. They are simply seeking understanding, and respect. If our communication has a hidden agenda, or we are less than transparent, it will be seen. This generation can sniff a phoney from a long distance.
Today’s youth have access to the most advanced technology, movie special effects, and video games with which we can never compete. But the good news is that they are not impacted by slick presentations. They don’t want a rehearsed talk, or a manufactured spiel. The more spontaneous and interactive we are in the classroom, the less intimidated, and more open they will be.
Obviously what we are communicating has to fall within their area of interest. But the style, as well as the content of our message must be relevant to a generation who are visually educated and entertained. There is no point in giving music to a friend on a cassette tape if they only have a CD player, or on CD if they only use MP3. Similarly we must research in the most appropriate format for those we are reaching. So in understanding the communication styles of our target cohort we will be better equipped to reach them.
There is an old and true saying in education circles: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” Communicating to this generation requires openness, vulnerability, and genuine interest in those we are trying to teach, and above all else, understanding. The more relaxed the environment, and the more socially conducive to discussions; the better will be the quality of the learning.
The Issue of Text Books and Learning Materials
Today, many children and individuals have MP3 Players, I-Pods, Smart-phones, computers, DVDs and DVD players, Radios and Televisions. Lots of in Jamaica are in some way linked and have some access to the various media. Today, I believe it is a tragedy that books, audio-books, tutorials and classes and the entire Jamaican and Caribbean syllabus are not posted online in PDF on accessible sites, material and content for our youths’ education should already be on their cell phones, in their DVD players, on YouTube.
It is an even more horrendous thought that every entrepreneur with a two-bit dream of becoming a media mogul can implement far reaching cable stations, whilst JIS is relegated to a time slot on TVJ, instead of being a Caribbean BBC, the U.S. has PBS and as a matter of fact the BBC has managed to pervade the island. We have an A.M. Band going to waste and yet I have seen people in small communities with their small means and incomes set up small radio stations and internet radio stations, why is JIS being broadcast, why aren’t we making full use of all the channels and vectors we have that can be used to bombard people with sensible, useful, practical, culturally relevant information.
I have lived to see middle-aged women become interior decorators watching HGTV and seen nearly illiterate dog lovers in the garrison swear they are dog trainers after a few episodes of dog whisperer on Discovery channel. In this vein I do believe if we have relevant content people will be willing to watch it. If you build it they will come. I do believe we have a wealth of content that can be drawn from, old documentaries from JBC and such. More can be commissioned, after all this is the era of YouTube movie directors, Open Source content and citizen journalism.
I am convinced the government has been lacklustre in pursuing technologies such as Linux, Open Source and notions such as FOSS. Brazil, Mexico and India are already using these to bring technology more cheaply to their nation. There are also revolutionary methods of implementing technology in the class room all throughout the Americas.
Also Mr. Holness I am sure you will probably have played dominoes with illiterate people as I have and been beaten by people who have never learnt primary school mathematics, which is proof that the education is disconnected from the everyday realities we face. Someone must have the potential to learn math if he can grasp the process of deduction and numerical elimination it takes to play domino well. We live in the Caribbean and still don’t learn enough about where we live. Why isn’t there our national geographic?
The other day I had to watch on foreign news that lizards that do morning exercises had been discovered in Jamaica. Lots of municipalities and small nation states have set up their own, local intranet that can provide the general populace with basic informational resources, like wikis and encyclopaedias and educational material. Today it is the nation’s own fault we are falling behind in education.
The government must become the primary agent of socialization, as parents and the family are lagging. If we are to grow a nation we need to grow people. We need our human resource to grow and develop. Technology, TV, internet, cell phones and the Radio are the way to reach them.
A Final Word:
The quality outcome of our education system is dependent on our understanding of the youth. Once we have a foundational grasp of their characteristics, communication styles, and social attitudes, we will be well equipped to effectively impact this enormous and emerging generation.
We want to create a curriculum that can:
Be self taught, peer mentored, and effectively evaluated without expert supervision.
Provide tools for analysis that will be general useful across the range of disciplines being taught at any given age.
Be an exercise machine for analysis, process and synthesis.
The idea is not that children learn tools they use for the rest of their lives. That’s not realistic. I don’t use any specific theorems or other mathematics constructs from school today. They should learn tools which they use at school to develop a general ability to learn tools. That general ability – to break a complex problem into pieces, identify familiar patterns in the pieces, solve them using existing tools, and synthesise the results into a view or answer… that’s the skill of analysis, and that’s what we need to ensure the youth graduate with.
Yannick Nesta Pessoa
#education #youth #jamaica #revolution #change #governement #governance
#education #youth #jamaica #revolution #change #governement #governance