Wednesday, April 17, 2024

IN THE CANDID CORNER – My cohobblopot

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Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? – Galatians 5:9.In the Daily Nation of Tuesday July 20, a Carlos Atwell-written article carried the headline Licks For Teachers. It evoked some debate that brought the role and functioning of the teacher as a professional into sharp focus. The story reported a number of concerns raised by Dr Patricia Saul, the acting principal of Erdiston Teachers’ College. The headline was at variance with the content of the story, since I perused the article without discerning “the licks”. Dr Saul, however, did articulate her concerns relative to the failure of some of today’s teachers to provide “pastoral care” like those of yesteryear did. From my vantage point as a principal of 14 years, I can attest to the fact that the system is getting a cadre of teachers equipped in terms of qualifications but some of whom fall short in terms of the attitude they bring to the profession. Dr Saul is reported to have said that “we are losing the desire to reach beyond the academic and into the emotional and social well-being of the children”. The acting principal underscored the critical role that we play as teachers. As she put it, “if teachers are no longer prepared to step in, then society will crumble further”.Incidentally, while addressing the closing ceremony of the teachers’ introductory course at the college, Minister of Education and Human Resource Development Ronald Jones was just as passionate as Dr Saul as he spoke to close to 200 teachers who received their entry certificates. It was Mr Jones’ hope that they had joined the profession to transform lives, to make a difference, to touch the lives of young people. Said he: “You are following in the footsteps of the Master . . . .” The teachers were told that they had chosen a great task and a tremendous responsibility . . . making marks on the minds of young people, being cultivators of the minds, and making a difference in the holistic person. It is in this context that Dr Saul’s comments about the declining attitudes among “some” not “all” teachers must be seen. Conceding that the young teachers are products of the current society and that schools are a microcosm of that society, she rightly gave the responsibility to the college to be the watchdog for standards. I wholeheartedly endorse the acting principal’s view of the importance of insisting on proper standards, deportment and professional conduct. I agree with her that if we are to maintain respect, that insistence it necessary. As the minister said in conclusion: “If you bring nothing to teaching . . . you can give nothing.”  The Bible says: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Both Dr Saul and the minister are on the ball with their comments.
Crop-Over titbitsThe Crop-Over Festival is a good time to gauge the extent to which our society is changing in many respects. It is more than interesting how certain words, once considered inappropriate for the airwaves are now “literally” in your face. The female’s posterior has been variously described. Thanks to calypso, a woman’s butt is now accepted as “a bumper” that can even be “jacked up” like a vehicle. The word “botsie”, which was once confined to certain social crevices, is now exposed in broad daylight as acceptable, whether it be “mock” or real. The ridicule of our women has now been taken to a different level. Talking about appropriateness, I suspect that many listeners were offended by one of the Crop-Over ads which ended “miss dis and you is a idiot”. I have heard “miss this and blame yourself”, but never have I heard an ad that offended my sense of choice as this one did. I challenge the practitioners in the field of public relations to raise the bar and guard their own standards. I was equally stunned when a radio promotion pronounced Louis Lynch Stand as “Lewis Lynch”. Give me a break!Last but not least, is this the swansong of social commentary in the calypso art form? I attended the 2010 semi-finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition at the National Stadium. To my utter surprise,we could not even fill two stands at the National Stadium. It was noticeable that not many young people were present. Is this an indication we are witnessing the death of social commentary? My pen is perched and ready. A happy Crop-Over to one and all!
Matthew D. Farley is an educator, a secondary school principal, chairman of the National Forum On Education, and a social commentator.

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