Sunday, April 21, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: The big picture

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Astute readers will have noticed of late that this writer seems loath to stick to his topics, instead jumping here and there into unrelated trivia. This is due to his imminent demise. Writers about to demise, like football teams crashing out of the World Cup, make desperate efforts not to miss any scoring opportunity in their dying minutes. Actually, this writer has no empirical evidence of his impending departure. He has visited no doctor in recent years, has no aches or pains, sluggishness of bowel or lethargy of the tom-pigeon. He doesn’t even know what “empirical” means. But helpful hints from those around him leave little doubt that the end is near.On a drive through Shorey Village with my grandson recently, for instance, a lady queried: “Raffie, you goin’ take over the farm when granddad gone?” An occasional helper was even more reassuring. “When you dead”, he told me a few days ago, “I goin’ come an’ help out your wife”. Raffie himself wondered aloud who would fix him “great eggs” when granddad died. And nowadays “after you’re gone” seems to come up a lot in family discussions. Way to go, people!So be it! For the sake of completeness, let me throw in a few observations on education which got dumped last week. I’m big on primary education. Would put my best teachers there to make sure every child got a good grounding in English and basic mathematics. It is nothing short of criminal, in my opinion, that Barbadian children should leave school at 14 to 16 who cannot read a simple sentence. Some of these are extremely talented individuals. How did they slip through the cracks?At the primary school my children attended, parents were asked to volunteer to sit with individual students and hear them read. A rewarding activity for both reader and readee and it freed up the teacher’s time to get on with other things. It also provided an opportunity to identify those with problems at an early age.By the way, has it not struck our educators that Barbados did not go metric? That, despite efforts to ram it down our throats, we still buy 2 x 4s, 6 inch blocks and half-inch pipe. And the metric students they are turning out find themselves looking like jackasses to semi-literate tradesmen. Not only that. They can’t at a glance comprehend the tons of information in the literature which still uses imperial measurements.My generation learned both systems. I use both with equal facility often on the same project. Moreover, I knew yards, feet and inches before I went to Harrison College at age nine. It is nothing big. For God’s sake, teach the children!Three examples of our modern graduates: a youth at a leading store argued strongly with me that a steel bar (about 19 feet long) could not be cut into four equal lengths. Another apprentice youth, when asked to cut a piece of steel eight inches long, came back and said, “Boss, see if this 8 inches long enough or you want a longer eight inches”.And two sisters, measuring up for curtains, confused inches, feet and yards and nearly bought enough material to surround Kensington, including the sight screen and press box. One sister, by the way, is a relatively recent Barbados Scholar.My point here: let education have some relevance. Five-year-old Raffie isn’t being taught inches. But he came home asking about “homo-phones”. I nearly flipped. I figured “homo-phones” were cellphones that vibrate automatically when shoved into a male back-pocket. Apparently, they’re not.Anyhow, I’ve done it again, come to the end of the column without dissing co-education or touching the “big picture” which was supposed to be today’s topic. But I refuse to chop and change. If I’m gone before next week, too bad.Two quick ones: was it the Loch Ness Monster that emerged from the pond at Codrington College last Saturday, festooned with slime and duck poop? Or yet another Barbados Scholar?Finally, every time I touch Bjorn Bjerkhamn’s wood, my fingers swell to twice the size, stiffen and won’t bend for over an hour. Ms Carter at Northern Lumber tells me he uses ACC or ACQ wood treatment. We may be on to something big here. More later.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.

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