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Enlightened Education

Abolish the SEA - get rid of the competition and elitism.

Go BackCollective • Contribution by Veronica Collens

We have all been educated or put our children through education and some of you have or do teach, so we may not be experts but we do have experience(s) that we can draw on.

In coming with some thoughts maybe if each of us were to ask ourselves four questions whether as a student, parent or teacher (or a combination) we could get a general consensus and, because we are not experts, use the phrase “from our experience”.

The questions (as a student, parent or teacher):

What went well? Why?
What could have gone differently? Why?

Personal background

I cannot speak from an ‘academic’ position. I did not pass the 11+ and had to leave secondary school (in England) at age 16 and go to work to assist with the family income.

Having said that I have to say that (way back then) my limited education covered quite a bit of ground even with a small vocabulary. I was given the opportunity to learn and enjoy many subjects from Shakespeare to shorthand and typing! I was also given the ‘tools’ to find out what I didn’t know on leaving school. I am still working on it! However, it was just post-war and we had 50 pupils in a class because schools and teachers had been lost.

I think its important to note that we are not alone in going through an ‘education crisis’. In the UK right now there would seem to be enormous problems with the system. For example there is a ‘super’ headmaster in Birmingham who has introduced isolation rooms for badly behaved pupils - they get locked in the cooler. Tony Blair even got him knighted (Sir Dexter Hutt) but I’m not sure if that was before or after his cool idea. Birmingham is very much a multi racial/immigrant society. Alabama revisited?,,2087-1613106,00.html

My suggestions come from my experiences of being the Mum of a young person who went to school in Trinidad from scratch in (1984) to scratch out (1995). I think primary school should be the major focus. This is where young people get turned on or off learning.

Some Simple Suggestions

  1. Upgrade vocational training for teachers so they are empowered to deal with the problems that children come to school with and assist disruptive students towards becoming co-operative. Teachers often, and understandably, resort to verbal and physical abuse out of frustration. And/or, every school should have properly trained guidance counsellors.

  2. Show society’s respect for teachers with regard to salary and working conditions once they have successfully completed the upgraded training.

  3. Air condition every school in the country. If they lived in Finland they’d have to be kept warm! Most of the year our climate is in the region of 32 - 34 degrees with 85-100% humidity. Keep the temperature down so ‘temperatures’ stay cool.

  4. Provide school books in school so students don’t have the burden of travelling with ‘tons’ of books in their bag.

  5. Ensure that every young person has lunch either free or subsidised. "Yuh cyah make math on empty belly."

  6. Abolish the SEA. Get rid of the competition and elitism. Young people would automatically graduate from primary to secondary school. No exams.

  7. Prior to entering secondary school, students would be asked to choose their subjects (after the 3 R’s - not necessarily Maths) and these choices could be reviewed periodically. We would have to expand the teacher training. Maybe a bit idealistic but we have to look out for students who are perceived to be slow learners simply because they do not have access to subjects that they could do well in.

See Contribution : Denis Solomon • Veronica Collens • Philip FortuneShane Collens • Leonard Bernstein

See Collective Statement : TT Humanist : Forum : Commentary : Education



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