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Published articles by Denis SolomonPhilosophy • Education • Censorship

Title   Topic Highlight
Wendy Fitzwilliam and the Square on the Hypotenuse For as a University lecturer I continually incurred the annoyance of students for not providing them with set answers to set questions, instead of trying, as I did, to awaken their dormant reasoning faculties.
The Un-Literate Society In our rare bouts of national introspection we alternate between complacency and self-flagellation. Our latest source of distress is that we have discovered how illiterate we are. A study conducted by the UWI Institute of Social and Economic Research finds that far from our being 97% literate as we have so long boasted, 12.6 percent of the population over 15 years of age is illiterate, and another 8.7 percent “functionally illiterate”, that is, unable to use written English to function in life.
Fishing For Relevance The French education system has always been regarded as excellent. On the British one, the jury is out. But however well or ill fitted a metropolitan education system is for its own citizens, colonial copies of it always turn out to be inadequate.
Unholy Alliance Education systems are the biggest prize in this (denominational schools) battle. To increase the power of religion in education is to hand further generations of children over to obscurantism and superstition, in more or less sophisticated forms, and ensure a continuous renewal of their congregations at State expense
Illiterates Sans Frontieres The Faculty, with its head resolutely in the sand, continued to attempt to instil the elements of grammar and style that should have been mastered in the third year of secondary school, and indeed were by some, but not by those who came to UWI.
Brainwashing With Taste Conscience, including civic conscience, is a conditioned reaction. Instilling it must involve asking learners to take a lot on trust. But once it is instilled it can and should be examined intellectually, because the ultimate goal of education is not conditioning but liberation. Citizens must be allowed to choose, rather than simply accept, civically useful forms of conduct. If you want to produce Gandhis or Einsteins you have to accept the risk of producing Hitlers. The only other choice is increasing the congregation of Miracle Ministries
Anti-Social Studies The clumsiness and unnecessary verbiage of this passage, however, is nothing compared to the errors of fact contained in the programme as a whole. It is obvious that the authors have little understanding of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago or of parliamentary systems in general. They therefore have no chance of conveying any understanding of them to schoolchildren.
Sparrow and Scarlet Ibis In other words, being told what is wrong is not the same thing as knowing what is right. "May" after "anticipated" and "hoped" conveys, at best, a lack of ambition quite unsuited to the enterprise of education. The writer is obviously still uneasy about using "will", and therefore takes refuge in what in language learning theory is known as an avoidance strategy.
Education Project "Project" in the title is a punning reference to the (Prime Minister's Special Works) Project, now called the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP). I don't know whether the Ministry of Education's Schools Broadcasting Unit is recruited along with the URP gangs, but it might as well be. As a purveyor of false information, bad English and clumsiness of expression it is unrivalled.
Centres of Excellence If you are going to make a mess of something, it should be something worth while. Something in which failure will force you to do better next time. In our relentless pursuit of superficialities we give exaggerated importance to things inherently worthless and then define our own criteria of success. Carnival, for example, is always trumpeted as a Trini triumph. In fact, from the cultural, commercial and political point of view it is an ever-increasing disaster.
Kaiso in the Classroom Shooting from the hip like so many members of her government, and this time at the wrong target, the Minister of Culture announced that calypso was to be “taught” in schools. Then, in a climbdown even faster than that of the Minister of Agriculture when he denied that he was planning to give Caroni lands to the Nariva farmers, she issued a release to “clarify” the statement.



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