Style Observer

Cocktails With... Cynthia Hamilton

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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The Step by Step Preschool & Kindergarten Principal and Founding Partner Cynthia Hamilton is an educator-administrator who embraces the luxuries of the oenophile, is always ready to answer the call to adventure, and holds strong to her passions. With stems of vino — the perfect complement to our already easy exchange — we discuss the value of culture, education as a means of exposure and how her motor vehicle, curiously, helps to keep her centred.

Unexpected good news has just been received, what celebratory drink would do it justice?

Wine! Wine celebrates everything.

The 'go study your book' approach to parenting only produces what?

That approach only produces limited thinking. Children also need outside discussion and input from parents to increase their understanding of a concept and how it relates to the world. This encourages them to be passionate and adventurous learners. Parental input also builds relationships as it creates a mutual interest and makes children confident in their support system.

'Those who can't do, teach'. What does this classic adage underestimate?

It underestimates the heart of teachers who teach because they love teaching and the children they teach. Beyond signifying expertise, teaching provides young minds with the foundation they need to achieve their potential. Some of the greatest minds in history have been teachers. Everyone should aspire to be a teacher or mentor to someone in his or her life.

'Bring Back Our Girls'... how does this movement apply to a Jamaican context?

It is difficult to put another nation's tragedy in a new context, but it is important to talk about the challenges that schoolgirls face all over the world. It is everyone's responsibility to protect and pay attention to how crime and other issues affect our youth and prevent them from achieving their full potential.

Has folklorist, playwright and educator Miss Lou been 'done right' by a culture she gave her life to?

I remember as a little girl going on Miss Lou's show and it made such an impression that it imprinted on my four-year-old mind. Miss Lou is a Jamaican icon who should be recognised for the invaluable impact she has made on our culture. I believe it is always better to do more than less and give credit where credit is due, and there are generations of young Jamaicans who don't fully understand the impact she made and that is unfortunate.

'The world is your oyster', is that a perspective only achievable for some?

I think it is achievable for all, but only if society provides the right stepping stones to allow opportunities for all. Beyond infrastructure, children need inspiration. That is why it's also the job of teachers to show children all that can be achieved.

In the age of instant gratification and social media, is the field trip as a tool for learning more critical than ever?

While field trips are a great learning tool, I don't think they are more critical than ever as there are endless ways to create 'field trips' without actually leaving school. Teaching through themes is a great way for children to connect and apply concepts. For example, at Step by Step we've done life-size safari animal cutouts on 'safari day', or a cold room full of falling snow on 'snow day' in order for our pupils to experience the outside world.

If your formal education were to rely on one non-textbook read, which would it be?

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I believe everyone is born for a very specific purpose. I believe your purpose is found in your passion. This passion drives you to learn in the most fulfilling way. For as long as I can remember I have been 'playing school' with the neighbourhood children, and not much has changed since then.

In any arts and culture district around the world, what area of interest always gets your unequivocal buy-in?

Wine tasting and amazing food. We are a family of foodies and will eat and drink our way through any art and culture district!

Heading back into Kingston from out of town, press play to soundtrack which begins with...

Hillsong Praise and Worship. My car is my praise and worship zone, it keeps me grounded regardless of what's going on.




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