The Mico cautions against knee-jerk reactions to student/teacher violence
PINNOCK... What we have is an imminent mental illness pandemic.

THE Mico University College is cautioning educators, parents, school communities and the general public against having knee-jerk reactions to incidents of student/teacher violence. This comes against the background of a series of viral videos, which show acts of violence in schools with students and teachers as both victims and perpetrators.

In a press release, president of The Mico Dr Asburn Pinnock said there has been a polarising of opinions with some people siding with the teachers and others supporting the students. He noted that many Jamaicans bemoan the state of education in the country and reference the days when a student would never physically attack a teacher, regardless of the circumstance. Others are concerned about the classroom management capacity of some of the teachers involved in these incidents, seeing it as a negative reflection on the state of the teaching profession.

Dr Pinnock said that as a country, we are failing to recognise the deep psychosocial issues affecting education and other sectors and the acts of violence are just symptoms of a bigger and deeper problem.

“What we have is an imminent mental illness pandemic, amplified by the impact of the pandemic which needs to be addressed urgently. We are busy focusing on the economic gap and social deficit; however, if we are not careful the mental and social issues will undermine any prospect of economic recovery,” he emphasised.

All undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at The Mico University College place heavy weighting on the psychosocial development of the emerging teachers. Every student-teacher must submit to psychometric evaluation, and counsellors, mentors and advisors help to preserve their mental well-being as they engage with the Mico environment and prepare to work in schools.

All programmes at The Mico have a classroom management component and students are taught how to defuse and de-escalate potentially hostile situations. They learn how to identify students’ cries for help, which are often disguised as negative behaviours, how to apply behaviour modification strategies, and develop behaviour intention plans for students.

In commenting on the stress levels affecting teachers and students, dean of the Faculty of Education Dr Karren Foster highlighted the need to avoid knee-jerk reactions, underscoring the fact that increased psychosocial stressors make both teachers and students more vulnerable to meltdowns and it is easier for them to reach their tipping point.

“This is why classroom management is such an important part of the programme for the soon-to-be teachers, and the mandatory practicum gives them first-hand experience of real-life classroom situations, working with actual students in school,” she highlighted. Academic advising is available to all students, and they are tracked and where necessary, monitored even after they officially become teachers.

The Mico University College, the oldest teacher training institution in the western hemisphere, is this year celebrating its 186th anniversary. Currently over 50 per cent of teachers in Jamaican institutions are graduates of The Mico University College.

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