History teachers must not encourage groupthink

Friday, April 20, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Schools are expected to teach children how to think and analyse; however, if some policymakers are successful, pupils will be taught what to think.

The history curriculum in high schools will be updated to include reparation for slavery. This is problematic because reparation is a philosophical issue that should invite dissent. But those in the intelligentsia influencing the curriculum are greatly in favour of reparation. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that students will be taught to have serious arguments against reparation.

We cannot expect Jamaica to produce the next generation of innovators and leaders if our students are expected to subscribe to groupthink. Presently, youngsters are taught in schools that Europe is bad and colonialism should be blamed for the nation's ills. There is no critical analysis of how the institutions created in colonialism facilitated or hindered development. Yet our young people are expected to believe that we are worse off because of colonialism. Even more frightening is the propaganda that only Europeans engaged in empire building. Clearly history teachers are unaware of the Mongolian Empire or they deliberately misinform students.

Educators obviously want students to have a sense of pride, but encouraging our students to have an anti-European mentality will not encourage confidence, just resentment. The irony in all of this is that Marcus Garvey, a man revered by the intelligentsia, had radically different views from his modern followers. He was an anglophile who admired the British for their military and economic might. Garvey judged development based on European standards and wanted blacks to develop their own aristocracies and empires. Hence, in this context, he is not different from Rudyard Kipling or any other imperialist writer. The great Marcus Garvey wanted people of African descent to acknowledge the economic power of the West and develop a greater system. If our intellectuals understood Garveyism they would promote his actual teachings and not the simplistic hatred of Europe.

Lipton Matthews


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