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September - December,  2006

SCHOOL DAZE  

Education, education this is the foundation
Our rising population needs sound education
To be recognized anywhere you go
You got to have your certificate to show
To enjoy any kind of happiness
Knowledge is the key to success

CHORUS

Children go to school and learn well
Otherwise later on in life you go catch real hell
Without an education in your head
Your whole life will be pure misery
You better off dead
For there is simply no room
in this whole wide world
For an uneducated little boy or girl
Don't allow idle companion to lead astray
To earn tomorrow you got to learn today. 

How your child’s / children is/are’s school days different from your own of ten, twenty, thirty years ago? 

Are today's school kids as hardworking and ambitious as those of your time? 

What's  your take on corporal punishment: Should school children be caned/strapped/flogged? 

Do you think flogging helped to "put sense into your head?" 

What are some of the ways in which today's kids are distracted from attending to their school work? 

What were some of the distractions in your time? 

And how about teachers and teaching. How have they changed since your time?


Is the school still a major socializing agency?
Did you ever stoway/break beach/skip classes in your time?

And one more thing: Are you giving your child/children  a dose of salts or castor oil before the reopening of school?


From Joy Charles

How is/are your child's/ children's school days different from your own of ten, twenty,thirty years ago?
 
 My child's school days are very different from my own. I grew up in Grenada across from the primary school. My daughter on the other hand doesn't have that luxury. Neighbours, grand parents and teachers were " Instant commanders" in my time. Neighbours do not get involved in my child's life and she only get to see her teacher at school, a disadvantage of growing up in a large country.
 
My school started at 9: am, and my daughter's school starts a 8: am. I was reminded by the quarter to 9 church bell , but she has to be dropped off. I had a one hour lunch and got to go home, but she has a closed campus.
 
Are today's school kids as hardworking and ambitious as those of your time?
 
 Today's school kids are not quite as hardworking and ambitious as those of my time. I am comparing the kids I see in my classroom with those I grew up with in Grenada. I have to help motivate those I see in my classroom. Those I grew up with, most of them were self motivated. In my days we wanted to be in the first ten in class. However, the kids I see today don't have that kind of motivation. They are told school is not competitive, yet they must compete for scholarship and also in the job market.
 
What's  your take on corporal punishment: Should school children be caned/strapped/flogged?
 
In my days corporal punishment was part of school. Today we live in a society where there is a thin line between flogging and child abuse. I still think a small number of kids need it.
 
Do you think flogging helped to "put sense into your head?"
 
There is no doubt that flogging help to " put sense in my head." When I think of flogging it was a time for decision making. It works -look how I turned out ( smile )
 
What are some of the ways in which today's kids are distracted from attending to their school work?
 

They are distracted by TV, drugs, part- time jobs, sex and violence.

What were some of the distractions in your time?
 
Distractions in my time were the juke box playing the latest records, listening to cricket when West Indies were playing Australia

 (time difference ) and of course playing football and cricket. In primary school there was no separation of classrooms. As a result my teacher was competing with another teacher for my attention. Also, there was always a nice girl in the other class ( Laugh ).
 
And how about teachers and teaching. How have they changed since your time?
 
There is quite a change. My teachers I believe had their lesson which they carry in a nice bag. Today I have to carry bags such as the one with the lesson, my teaching calculator and sometimes my lab top. My teachers had to manually calculate grades, but I have the "luxury" of electronic grade book. I believe today's student attention span is short. When teaching my class times are in three sections. A fifteen minutes explanation, a try this session for feed back and correction if need and independent work.

 

Is the school still a major socializing agency?
 
You bet. I have heard students said there is nothing better at home to do and others felt if they stay home there will be too much house work.

 

Did you ever stoway/break beach/skip classes in your time? And one more thing: Are you giving your child/children  a dose of salts or castor oil before the reopening of school?
 
I have to admit I skipped class a  few times. A classmate who was a little older use to say "lets skid" when we were not doing any thing in class, usually about 2:30 or 2 : 45. My home was in close proximity to the school so I could not do it very often. However , when I did I use go to the school steps after school to check for homework. There was also a time when all boys skipped handicraft ( half day ) because a new bat was made that morning. Cricket started a lunch time and we lost track of time. The belt spoke to us the next day.
 
My daughter does not take the dosage.
   
Joy Charles  is a full time high school mathematics teacher and an adjunct professor of mathematics at Wayne County community college. He hold a BA in Mathematics and A Master of Arts in Teaching mathematics  (MATM) . He was cited in the  Who's Who Among American Teachers, 1998.


From Clevil: 

How your child’s /children is/are’s school days different from
your own of ten, twenty, thirty years ago?

 
They live and go to school in s different country from me; I went to school in Trinidad, they go to school in Canada.
 
Are today's school kids as hardworking and ambitious as those of
your time?

 
Yes they are. Actually they are given more homework than I got back then.
 
 What's your take on corporal punishment: Should school children be caned/strapped/flogged?
 
I do not agree with corporal punishment. Children should not be caned/strapped/flogged
 
 Do you think flogging helped to "put sense into your head?"
 
No, flogging did not help to “put sense in my head”. Flogging helped to put fear in my heart.
  
What are some of the ways in which today's kids are distracted from
attending to their school work?

 
Today’s kids are distracted by computer and video games, television, mp3s and ipods.
  
What were some of the distractions in your time?
 
Distractions in my time were pitching marble, spinning top, playing football and cricket.
 
And how about teachers and teaching. How have they changed since
your time?

 
The teachers back then were more dedicated to their profession. They taught class because they wanted to educate children. They never went on strike
The teachers today are more concerned with wages and benefits than the welfare of the children. They often go on strike or threaten to do so.
Of course there are exceptions in both cases above.
 
Is the school still a major socializing agency?
 

Yes it is still the most major socializing agency.
 
 Did you ever stoway/break beach/skip classes in your time?
 
No, I never did any of the above.
 
And one more thing: Are you giving your child/children a dose of
salts or castor oil before the reopening of school?

 
No I don’t, but I take some myself.
 

From Ackee:

"How is/are your child's/ children's school days different from your own of ten, twenty,thirty years ago?" 

My daughter looks forward to going to school very much, and is not intimidated when she needs to speak up in class. In my high school days in Jamaica, "boldness" was frowned upon, and to a large degree, stifled. When I remember the young ladies who most challenged the rules - and not necessarily in a disrespectful manner - they always used to be in the headmistress' office in punishment. Today, my daughter is encouraged in school to speak up and query whatever she does not understand. 

"Are today's school kids as hardworking and ambitious as those of your time?" 

I think so. The work is somewhat different to our time, but I think today's children are competing just as much as we had to for high school placement and so on. And, as a visible minority, my daughter will definitely have to keep her nose to the academic grindstone to make sure of her future in a society that may not always give her an equal chance.

"What's your take on corporal punishment: Should school children be caned/strapped/flogged?"

Absolutely not. I was caned by nuns as a small child in Catholic school for the most trivial things, and it nurtured a huge fear in me about expressing myself openly in school. If our children cannot be free of violence in their schools or of being silenced by fear, how can we possibly expect them to realize their full potential? 

"Do you think flogging helped to "put sense into your head?"" 

No. It just taught me who held all the power.

"What are some of the ways in which today's kids are distracted from attending to their school work?"


The distractions include the TV and computer games. I solve the problem by leaving my daughter in an after-care study hall at school until I am on my way home from work. When she gets 
home, the homework is done, and she can play to her heart's content.

What were some of the distractions in your time?"

In my time, it was difficult to tear myself away from games with the neighbourhood children. We would play cricket, football, rounders and hang out until we had to head inside to hit the books.

"And how about teachers and teaching. How have they changed since your time?"

There is such a variety of personality types among teachers, then and now.... some teachers have a softer, more inviting approach.... some are dictators, brooking no argument. I think teachers today have more career choices open to them, yet still choose teaching, whereas in my day, I think many of my teachers had fewer choices, and so did not approach the job as an important calling, but as a task. 

"Is the school still a major socializing agency?" 

Definitely. It is where the friends are made and all the latest trends are shared. That has not changed much since I was in school. 

"Did you ever stoway/break beach/skip classes in your time?" 

Thankfully my daughter won't be reading this..... yes, I used to skip school once in a while to check out friends across town if their school was having social events. 

"And one more thing: Are you giving your child/children a dose of salts or
castor oil before the reopening of school?"

Not a chance! My mother still entertains us with laughable stories of her days of castor oil and herb tea, and I am happy to say that my daughter has escaped all such tortures. 

Ackee


From: Lincoln D 

How your child’s / children is/are’s school days different from your own of ten, twenty, thirty years ago?   

I completed my primary and high school education in Grenada.  My two sons have attended, and are attending, school in Canada.  For one thing, the morning pre-school rituals are quite different.  In Grenada, I/we were engaged in pre-school rituals which would have involved a whole range of things such as tending to animals, sweeping the yard, “droging’’ water to bathe, and even running to the shop to make a “quick message.’’  By the time I got to GBSS, I was deeply involved with soccer. Some mornings I woke early to train either individually or with my teammates.

My Canadian kids have none of these rituals.  The most they have to do is drag themselves out of bed, eat and off they go to school.

As well, going to and from school in Grenada was an adventure in itself.  You found ways of entertaining yourself.  It could be pencil races in the drain, teasing someone, or just chatting along with your friends as you make your way to or from school.  The adventure in Canada is different and the fun is different.  It involves ready-made entertainment gadgets like cell phones and i-pods, visits to the mall, etc.
 
Are today's school kids as hardworking and ambitious as those of your time? 
 
I would have to give it to the kids of my generation.  But that is a generalization.  Because I know kids who are working their butts off to succeed.  But I think the kids of my generation were hardworking and ambitious because we felt and/or knew that we wanted something better than what our parents had.  And our parents tended to push us to achieve something better than they had.  We were almost desperate.  Having a “good’’ education was the only option for achieving that better something.

With kids today, they do not seem to have that same sense of desperation.  They see many more options to achieving something better than they parents.  They appear optimistic that as Canadians, as most are, opportunities for advancement will be there for them.  They do not see the education route as the only option. 

What's your take on corporal punishment: Should school children be caned/strapped/flogged? 

Having being “brought up’’ on the strap, I have no problem with it.  But I understand the new environment in which we live and I also know that there were teachers of my time who, in my opinion, abused the strap.  What we have today is a system of time-outs and suspensions and kids are hardly bothered by them.  In the days of the strap, you took your licks and you remained at school and tried to correct whatever caused you to be flogged in the first place.  My suggestion will be to have the strap only as a deterrent of last resort; used sparingly and only after other non-physical measures have been tried, and with limitation on the number of lashes.
 
Do you think flogging helped to "put sense into your head?"

Fear of the strap had me staying up late, using candle and lamp, trying to work out the answers to sums and trying to conjugate verbs. 

What are some of the ways in which today's kids are distracted from attending to their school work?   

Too many gadgets and play-things around.  Sure, endless playing around with the gadgets may lead to the next Bill Gates.  But for the many millions who are not going to be Bill Gates, their time would have been better invested learning to read, write and spell – without using the computer spell-check, which often gives the wrong spelling to words.
 

What were some of the distractions in your time?


Sports (soccer, table tennis, cricket)  and culture (steel pan, carnival).
 
And how about teachers and teaching. How have they changed since your time?

Again, I’ll have to compare Grenadian teachers with Canadian.  In Grenada, teachers were, by and large, part of the community in which you lived.  There was a connection, an affinity, and sometimes, fear and respect, that went beyond the classroom.  You knew the teachers outside the classroom, and he/she often knew your mother, father and your whole clan.

In Canada, teachers are just teachers.  You get to meet them a few times – at school.  It is pure business.  They deal with you or your child’s issue at school and they disappear from the community that embodies the school.

Is the school still a major socializing agency?

It still is.  And, in my opinion, always will be, so long as children have to receive an education and have to attend a school for how many hours a day and for how many years of their lives.  A whole lot of things will happen during those school “daze’’ to shape the life of a boy or girl.

Did you ever stoway/break beach/skip classes in your time?

No.  Never.  For one thing, I was afraid someone would have seen me and told my parents.  But I also liked school.  Or, rather, I liked the idea of going to a place where I learnt something new every day.  As an elementary student, I thought teachers were the greatest people in the world.  I kept wondering how did these people know so many things. 

And one more thing: Are you giving your child/children a dose of salts or castor oil before the reopening of school?

Never, ever thought about it. Perhaps because they do not spend their summer like I did, eating mangoes and other things that would have given them “worms,’’ which needed to be “washed out’’ before the reopening of school.
 
LincolnD, a graduate of Hindsey and the GBSS, is a journalist and marketing professional in Toronto, Canada. He is the father of two sons.
 


From Godfrey Ferguson        
 

“To form good citizens we must educate our children. From our national institutions will proceed a race of men [and women] capable of defending by their knowledge and talents those rights so long denied by tyrants.
It is from these sources that light will be diffused among the whole mass of the population.”

–        Henri Christophe, 1817 

Born a slave in Grenada, Henri Christophe (6 October, 1767 - 16 October, 1820) was an adolescent when he arrived in Cap-Francais in St-Domingue.  Although much of his policies as King of Haiti were of the feudal social order, Christophe championed the importance of education: King Christophe built many schools and provided opportunities for outstanding students. He believed these schools would secure Haiti’s new and hard-won freedom.

Though barely literate, Christophe’s wide travels and his experiences with slavery, tyranny and oppression while he should have been still a school boy, must have instilled in him the virtue of education as an essential vehicle of progress. Christophe’s primary school education came in 1778 when he fought as a volunteer in Savannah, Georgia, for the independence of the United States of America.  He obtained his college education as one of the principal leaders of the Haitian military forces that stood up to and eventually defeated the globally-feared Napoleonic army.

Many multi-generational post-emancipation Africans throughout the Americas share Christophe’s appreciation of education as the great equalizer.  Many present-day Grenadians share these aspirations and Godfrey Ferguson is one of them.

Godfrey was born in Paraclete, St Andrew.  He attended the Belair Government School and later Mc Donalds College.  His pedagogical education was accomplished by becoming a teacher while in his teens and later as a graduate of the Grenada Teachers College, where he obtained a certificate in Education.

Mr. Ferguson taught for 5 years at the Tivoli Roman Catholic School.   His commitment towards excellence in education took him to the United States where he excelled, attaining undergraduate degrees in business, economics and political science and an MBA from University of Connecticut (New Haven).

Ferguson is a business manager, artist manager, and election campaign manager.  He is currently employed as a Manager for State of Connecticut.

A former Grenada national youth player in both soccer and cricket, Mr. Ferguson is also an accomplished tennis player.  He was an opening batsman for the Mc Donald's College cricket team, and was also useful bowler.   Mr. Fergusson is married with five children.  I spoke to Mr. Ferguson by telephone.


-
Martin P. Felix

BIGDRUMNATION (BDN): How are your children's school days different from your own back in the ‘dayz’?

Godfrey Fergusson (GF): My kids' school days are as different from my own as night is different from day.  Couldn’t be any more different. For instance, for my entire primary school days I went to school bare- footed.  I started wearing shoes on a full time basis when I went to high school.  Just as contrast.  I probably had a single pair of pants and shoes.  At the beginning of the term we had new uniform but that was the beginning
of the school year in September. But here in this country I spend thousands every semester on my kids.  Shoes and clothing are not an issue for school.  All they have to do is ask for it.  In my days if I asked for it I would not get it.  Not because they would not give it but because the money was not available. Economically the kids are a lot better off.

BDN: Are today's school kids as hardworking and ambitious as those of  your time?
 

GF: I’ll say yes.  When I think of my kids and of my friends I would say definitely.  In my days my education ambition started in high school.  And obviously I worked hard and other people worked hard too and wanted to go to university to finish high school. But the economic means were not available to me and so I decided to leave country to achieve that.  If we were to compare that situation with that of my kids – right now I have
two kids in university and my wife and I are paying for them so they don’t have that economic issue that I had.


BDN: What's your take on corporal punishment: Should school children be caned/strapped/flogged?


GF: I grew up under that system and I was a teacher and naturally I administered corporal punishment – strap, whips and stuff like that.  It was part and parcel of the system that we grew up with.  But when I traveled to this country [ the United States] I realized that they had turned their backs on this practice. Even England that we got it from, they too abolished corporal punishment in school. So I concluded after a long period of thought that children should not be beaten in school.  I thought a lot about it and considering the social and psychological training that I got back in teachers college I concluded that it was wrong in a lot of ways to beat.  Further, the best way to get kids to obey the rules and perform in school is to give them positive reinforcement. 

BDN: Do you think flogging helped to "put sense into your head?"

GF: I thought that helped to discipline me but I realized that it
instilled more anger in me and actually the anger is long term. 

BDN: What are some of the ways in which today's kids are distracted from attending to their schoolwork?

GF: For one thing: I think kids are distracted by having so much media vying for their attention, because all of this media consumption takes a lot of time.  If you get hooked on the media it takes a lot of time - video games, playing video on the

Internet, hand held games, PSP, the xboxes etc.  Added to that, you have phones and cell phones.  So, all of these electronic devices can be major distractions.  A kid can get caught up with playing these games for hours and neglect her work.

And weak parenting is a contributing factor, too.  Another is the
demand of work on parents, which is sacrificing parenting and care. 
So in the absence of stronger parenting the negative influences in the media tend to have its way.  Then you have the dangers of drugs, urban gangs and other vices.

BDN:  What were some of the distractions in your time? 

GF: We grew up very simple, folk society.  Probably our biggest
distraction was girls (laugh).  When one got older the distraction
could be hanging out a lot and not devoting enough time for work and not have the discipline for it.  Another major distraction from school work was agrarian chores – land work, taking care of animals, etc.  On banana day many kids had to be absent from school.

BDN: And how about teachers and teaching. How have they changed since your time?

 GF: My day as a teacher we had a teacher and a black board chalk and a duster. When I went to Teachers College I learn that we need visual aid too and our school did not have the resources.  I spent my own money to buy supplies, Bristol board, crayons, markers.  It was basically hands on. 
You tried to enrich the education experience by using the little resources you had but now kids have all kinds of new technology. They have power point presentation and all kinds of visual aids to enhance the experience of learning. The kids themselves learn to do those presentations.  They also have the Internet.  When I was in school I wrote three books because I realized that there was a need in these areas: one Math book; two English books. I also wrote a short story book.  There was an education consultant who came from England and he wanted to know who I was because he saw my books in a library in one of the  universities in London.  Apparently they kept all of the books developed by people in the colonies.
 

BDN:  Is the school still a major socializing agency? 

GF: Probably not.  I think the Internet is now the major social agency.  I believe that school can indeed be that, but things have changed.  We find a lot of socializing outside the school.  For example, they divide up the kids into different houses and teams and therefore the interaction between the kids are minimalized.  There is more emphasis in competition rather than socialization.  Schools seem to be more interested in controlling than in socializing.  I don’t think it takes a social scientist to caution that the long-term effect may not be very positive.


BDN: Did you ever stoway/break beach/skip classes in your time?
 

GF: Yea, I did that on the influence of the bigger guys.  Shhhhh… I hope my kids are not listening (laugh).  We skip, go to town (Grenville) and hang out.  But being in a small society my folks heard about it and that was the end of it. Never did that again.  I never did that in high school. I was very focused.

 BDN: And one more thing: Are you giving your child/children a dose of salts or castor oil before the reopening of school?  

GF: (laugh)… When I think of it that was a good thing you know. The kids go to a pediatrician and they take care of things.  In our days our parents were the doctors, pediatricians and all. 

BDN: Thank you very much, sah.  Nice chat.

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