The destruction of student tablets, a poor reflection on parents
By Vakeesha A John
According to an article published by Searchlight, the PM said that he has learnt that “half the tablets provided to students were not working, as adults had taken them over and used them for certain purposes”.
I am sick of it.
The part that irritates me the most is the reality that many of these devices have been destroyed. Whether they were destroyed by the child or the parent, the point is, it is ridiculous that proper value wasn’t placed on these devices, especially in these times. Parents should not take them over and should also ensure that every child treats the tablet with utmost care. You can’t bawl that poverty prevents you from having a device then when you get one, YOU see to it that it only lasts 1 month. Come on. This is now your responsibility to at least safeguard the device.
Man, hit the government with criticisms when you want but y’all better take responsibility when you failed to do your part. Should the government fix or replace these devices? Stewps.
Good day to everyone except parents who helped to destroy these devices or failed to supervise the child’s use of these tablets. YOU CAN AND MUST DO BETTER.
Vakeesha A John is a teacher at the Thomas Saunders Secondary School, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
What’s up with these school fees?
Is it possible to have the shadow person in the Opposition ask the Minister of Education at the next sitting of Parliament about these registration and other fees such as PTA fee, student data system fee, security fee (imagine that) etc which public and assisted secondary schools are charging pupils in SVG?
It appears according to The Education Act Cap 202 of the Revised Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines 2009, Act no 34 of 2006 that as per Section 16 some of these fees are illegal. The Education Act makes it clear that any costs for “specialised services” and “other items” charged to students “MUST” be specified by the Minister of Education and Gazetted.
We need to know if these specialised and other fees these schools are charging are approved by the Minister and Gazetted. I propose (subject to correction) that they aren’t as empirical evidence suggests that.
If the school is sourcing ties and PE shirts etc for pupils to use it is fine for the school to pass these costs, without profit, onto students as parents would have had to buy them from private entities anyway but all operational costs charged are illegal if not gazetted.
We need an answer to this question or we may have to sort it via the courts namely – Jane Doe – V – XYZ School, The Minister of Education, The Chief Education Officer and The Attorney General.
Ranting English Teacher
We could have extended the school year, made a national decision to delay CSEC until next year. We could have but we didn’t. Why? Ask the brilliant minds at the Ministry of Education.
A few years ago a gentleman at a business place asked me, how could students get Grade 1s for English but be unable to speak Standard English. I said, “That’s easy!” I explained to him that English teachers are told to concentrate on content. At times we are allowed to subtract marks for grammar, spelling etc. but that’s an everyday cuss out now. I no longer take away points for poorly written short answer responses. I used to paint books red, point out every error, and make suggestions. It’s the way my teacher’s did it. I wasn’t traumatized. Now? I do things the ‘modern way’. English teachers should not upset students by highlighting all errors, it’s intimidating. So it becomes hard to remember which error you focused on last time and at times children would say, “But Miss I wrote that before.” I would then smile and put it down as human error and reinforce the correction.
Some children don’t read, and many can’t read… so English and ‘notes subject suffer’.
Anyways I am digressing.
Our Fifth Form students are going to come back with lots of Grade 1s. They are going in with passing SBAs and will only do a multiple choice. Every year I have a Form 5 class I relax a bit once all students start scoring 45/60 or above. The lowest should be 40/60. Right now English teachers are simply drilling rules and giving practice. We have stopped focusing on writing exhausting pieces. No one wants to be the teacher who did not give enough practice questions. You see CSEC brings back the same multiple choice questions year after year. The more past papers we hunt down the more likely it is for our students to ace the multiple choice.
I am writing all this to say the next few years when these children from last year and this year go off to colleges, universities and or start working it is all going to be interesting… but who cares.
Our education system was a mess before COVID-19 and the lack of foresight and interest at the Ministry of Education has only made things worse.
Not sure if this makes sense to you… Sometimes my finger is faster than my mind…
Arrest the decline in school discipline now!
If a school cannot instill discipline, what is the point?
I am veteran teacher in the secondary school system. I have given over thirty years of service to our nation’s children. Ever so often though, I have to protest loudly against the mess that we allow to persist. I write today about the growing prevalence of indiscipline and the apparent enthronement thereof.
The appalling conduct of of many students manifest itself in several ways. Among these are:
- chronic late coming;
- unexcused absences;
- refusal to bring required material to class;
- absconding from classes;
- engaging in violent behaviour;
- wanton acts of vandalism;
- disrespect for each other and those in authority;
- open defiance;
- lewd and despicable behaviour.
Sometimes the situation is so terrible that one gets the distinct impression that students “run things”. Furthermore, the despicable conduct is often supported by parents and even the wider community.
Efforts to effectively address the problems associated with indiscipline are often met with resistance, particularly from misguided parents. At times, the response from the competent authorities can at best be describe as apathetic. They often appear unwilling to or incapable of confronting these issues head on. Hence, principals and teachers are all but helpless in the midst of this growing culture of indiscipline in our schools. But, if a school cannot instill discipline, what is the point?
To be sure, there are many decent students who show up. They are regular and punctual; they complete all assigned tasks in pursuit of their education; and above all, they conduct themselves in an appropriate manner at all times. However, our frustration comes from those who are bent on doing the exact opposite. Indeed, they are the ones in charge!
Is it any wonder then, that across the nation that academic performance is barely mediocre? Should we be surprised at the unacceptable rates of class repetition; dropouts and the high levels of failure on tests of basic competencies in literacy and numeracy?
Left as it is, the problem of indiscipline in schools tend to translate into scores of youths, mainly males, who offend the legal system on a regular basis. Indeed, there could well be a direct link between the decline in discipline and what appears to be a growing crime wave, particularly among the youths.
This is a simple plea for us to arrest the problem before it gets further out of control. The schools, the authorities, the parents and and the wider community must get together and carefully examine the situation. We should then collaboratively craft strategies that are designed to stem the decline in discipline and decorum among our young people.
When you disagree with the principal…!
Every teacher may at one time or the other come into contact with a disagreeable principal. Here are a few suggestions from Max Fischer about how to handle the inevitable disagreement with an administrator
Be straightforward. Backstabbing is never a worthwhile or appropriate tactic. The most constructive means of dealing with any disagreement is to do it directly. When a principal’s determination becomes a point of friction, anything less than a candid discussion will only intensify the heat.
Go Private, not public. For sure, if a principal actively solicits input to a school-wide decision during a staff meeting, that forum is a legitimate venue for a civil rebuttal to his planned course of action. However, any sensitive issue — personnel related or otherwise — should be handled in a private meeting. A staff meeting is no place for a blindsided assault on an administrator.
Be assertive rather than aloof or pushy. By all means, when a live issue is on the table, don’t be a wallflower. If something is bothering you, pretending it will go away or that it doesn’t really matter won’t accomplish anything. Thoughts unspoken are likely to fester and lead to additional frustrations. On the other hand, a combative approach can be just as counterproductive. The body language of aggression — arms crossed, a scowl, a raised voice — will force the principal to be defensive instead of being open to an alternative perspective. The best approach, almost always, is to state the case simply, clearly, and without excess emotion.
Cite bona fide research or school-wide data. Professional journal articles can be an excellent source of support for your point of view; they can lend credence to a specific instructional strategy you want to employ if your principal is unfamiliar with that approach. Data — especially data collected at the school level — can help you make a strong case too. The more your position is grounded in observable realities and concrete information, the less likely it will be viewed as vintage emotional “whine.”
Remember who is captain. If push comes to shove, remember that your principal is the team captain. The best administrators seek consensus wherever possible. But, in those cases where consensus doesn’t, or can’t, exist, the principal must make his best judgment call. Don’t begrudge him. Don’t fight a losing battle. Move on.
From Note Books to Net Books: Isn’t it time to abandon the black board?
I have a six-year old friend who entered grade one last September. This was the beginning of his second year in primary school. I was going through my friend’s book bag (which I thought was quite big and heavy for a six-year old) when I came across a 100 page hard cover note book. I asked my friend what was he doing with this big “note book” in his bag. He responded, “Miss say we have to bring it to write notes”. Write notes? At six?
Here is another situation that plays itself out over and over on a daily basis. Almost every time I enter a classroom, I meet the black board filled with “notes”. Invariably, I have to give the students a few minutes of my period to “write down” the notes that Miss or Sir left for them. And, as you may well appreciate, all 80 square feet of the black board is emblazoned with “notes” from left to right and top to bottom.
It is therefore no wonder that the typical teen-ager finds school to be excruciatingly boring. After all, they are made to sit for hours and copy badly written “notes” from a black board. Alternatively, they must listen and write as Miss or Sir “call notes”. Unfortunately for the children of the 21st century; the children of the education revolution; “notes calling” and “notes writing” still remain as significant instructional strategies for too many teachers.
As a student, I found “notes calling” and “notes writing” to be painfully monotonous. I simply could not keep up. I often waited eagerly for my teacher to pause and offer some “explanation” of his or her “notes”. In fact, I even developed the technique of deliberately asking a slew of questions to delay the resumption of “notes calling” or “notes writing”. It did not always work though! With the urgency of covering the material foremost in their minds, my teachers would stop the questioning and stick to their notes!
As a teacher of history and social studies, two subjects notorious for “notes”, I choose not to “dictate notes”. I never did and I never will. Furthermore, I use the black board sparingly. In fact despite Charles Best’s excellent tutoring at the SVG Teachers College, I never learnt to apply the effective uses of the black board in my classroom!
We are now in the digital age and all that it implies. I prefer to refer to these times as the post black board era. Today, there are countless effective alternatives to “calling” and “copying” notes. Yet, the practice is still so ubiquitous in our school system. That is why I am calling on the SVG Teachers Union to conduct a series PD workshops on the theme: Making the Black Board Obsolete- Interesting Alternatives for Engaging Students with Educational Material.
In the meantime, I feel it for those six-year olds like my young friend who have to lug a bag of hard cover note books to and from school and who must sit and copy copious notes from the black board or as Miss dictates. Perhaps, all of this would be eliminated when every child and every teacher are in posession of the digital tools to make teaching and learning engaging, exciting and enlightening in this the digital age.