What the society needs is a campaign of prevention, an education system that targets issues in our lives and providing the tools to deal with the predictable situations as they arise. There is nothing new under the sun so a man must be taught to fish so that he can feed himself for life. There must always be indoctrination, reinforcement and evaluation to ensure that the end product is truly human. No longer must education stop at certification but must be an invaluable enhancement of lives.
Hence we must teach the children… the concept of self, so that they will hold themselves in high esteem and not be driven by negativity; the power of interest, as the eternal flame in themselves; preventative medicine, so that they learn to appreciate their bodies, practise good nutrition, exercise and manage age-related illnesses; virtues, so they will grow to be morally upright; to manage emotions, to avoid being consumed by passion and stay healthy internally; confidence, so they can use it as a weapon to conquer the world; motivation, since it is the fuel to persevere; relaxation, as the natural way to rest and rejuvenate themselves; the art of stress management, to develop coping skills to deal with the pitfalls in life.
Teach the children about relationships with their humankind and communal living to experience the goodness and joy in sharing and caring; norms and laws, to appreciate the importance of obedience; rights and responsibilities, so they will not divorce themselves from their actions and the consequences arising from them; national pride, so they blossom into patriotic citizens; self-employment, which teaches self-sufficiency, budgeting and managing what you have; setting goals, to inculcate that without purpose there is no direction and no achievement without focus should all be added to the mix.
A child’s third relationship is with the environment, which they must be trained to see as an extension of themselves so that they will appreciate and protect it. Teaching safety and injury rehabilitation will ensure that they do not take their existence and the environment for granted. Without the problem-solving skill it is impossible to wriggle one’s way through life. To encourage effort and promote growth the child must be taught how to succeed in the school phase which must be highlighted by a degree of self-fulfilment.
Having given our children all these tools I will emphasise they reading and writing these things and are able to classify and measure intrinsic value. These elements would be the basis of my evaluation. Since the components of the test are “natural”, failure is an indication of future deviant behaviour. Knowing the source of the problem makes it easier to nip it in the bud.
There is wanton display of arrogance when no research is done; findings are locked in a vault and the works of other jurisdictions are not consulted. Many may argue that these things are all taught in schools. Hygiene, nutrition and physical education; how to build self-esteem and confidence and even science and geography, I agree, are included in the curriculum. To what percentage of the student body and for what purpose are these offerings made?
Do these subjects have the same status as mathematics and English language? Sticking to the ignorant path is taking us down a slippery slope. Those who benefited from the system never saw the need to change it. Their offspring mastered the system, so what is the big deal? The high failure rate in the system is blamed on the so-called bad schools, delinquent teachers and disinterested students. I am suggesting it is the content.
School was invented for students, not the other way around. Any recognised failure must warrant immediate correction to the system. If the system is not revamped we are sure to have a high demand for accommodation for prisoners; psychological help for vagrants; hospital beds for the sick and jobs for those trained in the system.
• Lennox Francis is
a retired teacher