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Times changing in the school yard

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, September 07, 2018

BENG-GEH-LENG… BENG-GEH-LENG… Is school time again! How many recognise the school bell? Some don't know that sound… Schools have a new one now. The hand-held iron bell of past times has given way to a smoother sounding, push-button, electronic version.

The other day somebody was heard saying: “School today has no connection to what school used to be in times past.” Another added “Don't get too sentimental about your days when the classroom was so different. Now is the time for critical thinking.” Teacher sey “We will have to go learn nuff-new things”.

If you were to pay a visit to a place of learning, you may have a different understanding of how our children deal with education and learning. The minister of education and members of his team are constantly on the move. Of all the Government portfolios, none is more demanding as that of education. In every age and every time, demands for greater levels of achievement have been made of the ministry, teachers and students.

Educators are very busy at this time, preparing students to be fully equipped to make a smart move in learning. The young people of today will find the boundaries of learning extending further and further. The modern classrooms are being equipped to be ready and steady to recognise the new world. The one-room divided by blackboards and three to one desks are long gone in most schools. Now, it is white-boards and wireless Internet connections in schools. There will come a time still when even the poorest of our students will have access to the outside world too. Parents, listen up! Education is changing. Get ready for the future!

Advances in technology and infrastructure don't mean that every child from St Thomas in the east to Westmoreland in the west and other home-grown areas will find everything easy. Of course not. We will always have challenges, but if we want to help them take that journey, then it means doing the work and not wasting people's time. Question: Have we dedicated as much as we can to help the “youths”, especially those who come from communities and homes where hard times and struggles often outweigh the positives?

Over recent days, a lot has been said about schools which have been setting and enforcing academic standards. These institutions are insisting that students accept training and walk past the time-wasters and take in what there is to learn. We salute the ones who are doing well, but we must also be sure that every effort is made to get failing students on the right path.

A teacher friend says more engagement with parents is needed: “It is not enough to carry the children to the school gate and walk away from them. Teachers can't shoulder the task of guiding our youths alone.” Parents have to get in step with the new ways in which schools now operate and take responsibility to see that our children do not get left behind.

Another thing parents can do now is to seek out help. For instance, there is no reason that the community shouldn't work together to support the students and the schools in their neighbourhood. There is much opportunity to achieve for all, not for one-one-two-two. There are a number of communities which have established homework centres to help their children. Neighbours with an objective can “win the prize” by working together to create that goal of a strong community

SAVE THE YOUTHS FROM THE EVIL ONES! How many are still hurting from the far too many reports of children losing their lives to evildoers? Will the wicked be held to account for their actions? How do we support the bereaved family and friends?

Schools have had to employ guidance counsellors to help our youth work through some of the problems they face. Reports of grief counselling teams from the Ministry of Education visiting schools as and when needed are too frequent. The initiative is a good one. We all need help in dealing with loss and grief and other stresses in life, but what a day it would be if our children were free of these challenges. Can't we just let our children live and learn?