10 Aug 2008

A very confused Jumbie

I'm usually very broadminded. In fact, I do tend to give people the benefit of any doubts I have. I usually respect my elders if not betters. So I am somewhat torn today after reading Bhoe Tewarie's column in the Guardian. I made a few observations from this piece that left me a tad confused, a bit uncertain of myself, wondering whether I'd have to revise my opinions on some things.

Why would I have to do that? Well, he certainly presents a different view-point (evidence to the contrary I might add, but I will get to that) from mine. And coming from a highly respectable, educated background, surely he can't be all wrong. Which means I may be wrong in part, right?

Let me take this in small bites.

First of all, he says Trinidad has no dunces, (evidence of all political dotishness and police idiocy to the contrary as I said), only those who are 'under-prepared'. Now if that did not qualify enough to confuse me, he labelled the 'under-prepared' as 'misfits'. Can you be both under prepared and a misfit?

  • Not easy to enter job market without educational qualifications or skill.
  • People who fail CXC not dunce but leave primary school under-prepared.
  • Secondary school misfits find opportunity in their own neighbourhoods in gangs.

Claiming that the 'under-prepared' are not challenged in school, and so "tend to be distracted and unfocused in secondary school and more often than not are difficult to manage," nothing is done to "stimulate their critical thinking skills or to nurture and guide their creative impulses and which suppresses and denies any entrepreneurial talent that may manifest itself."

"...they are asked to sit in a classroom, learn abstract concepts often without context. In addition, generally weak in English and mathematics (CXC results will indicate that annually only about 50 per cent of those sitting these subjects actually pass), they are at a disadvantage in making the most of other subjects."

Funnily enough, many others do this, and they do make headway and learn. So these 'misfits' are different. Now, ol' Bhoe infers they aren't dunce, but that they aren't capable of learning i.e. dunce. Hold on a bit - a dunce is not a dunce but is a dunce? See why I am confused? I guess this is why Bhoe is a UWI professor and I am a lowly pleb.

Coming back to the misfits, I guess according to Bhoe and contrary to me, the majority of the police force are 'misfits' since most didn't pass more than 3 CXC subjects. No wonder the entire top brASS can't fall into the way of thinking of the country, that is, a reduction in crime is actually a good thing. We have misfits trying to establish law and order, more misfits leading them, and in turn even more 'under-prepared' leading them.

But I take issue with this statement:

It may be true that some adults have failed at parenting. Maybe church and community must accept some of the responsibility. But the State, equally, must accept responsibility for how crime has evolved in these crime-ridden communities, for what is happening now in these communities, and for its inability to come up with either short-term measures to contain crime or long-term solutions to a problem that is eating through the society as a cancer.

The sad truth is that the State has failed these young men by providing schooling without education and examinations that lead to nowhere. Moreover the State has failed these communities by facilitating the growth of a drug, crime and gun culture and by endorsing it with political patronage.

Let's relate this to the selection of the CoP. A process was designed to achieve a specific result, went through and some people attained top results. The process was deemed flawed, a claim negated by many, many both within and outside the system.

In the same manner, a goal is set to achieve certain criteria in education and a greater percentage manage to achieve the targets. The ones who fail think the system is flawed. Maybe the lotto losers can also find flaws in that system?

And what's this nonsense about the State failing them? If they don't learn in school it is not because they did not have the same opportunity as someone sitting in the same class, listening to the same teacher expound the same ideas and later goes on to become a professional... it's because they chose not to learn at that time, or were incapable of learning. The fault lies with them.

The fact is, not every one has the same ability and attention span to learn, and the school system weeds out those who fail to achieve, better to recognise then that they aren't meant to do certain jobs jobs, like brain surgery and are more fit for other jobs, like mowing lawns and digging drains. Society needs all types and it's time we recognise that we can't all be professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers etc.

Bhoe, you making excuses for them, as if they not making enough for themselves. Put your thoughts into more worthwhile endeavours instead of thinking of people and institutions to blame.