The island of my birth, heralded the activation of my brain cells, at a very young age, I was placed in the hands of a stern, no nonsense, looking Deputy Head teacher at the age of four, because my grandmother was unable to answer any more of my questions and basically just wanted to get on with her agricultural gardening to feed the family. I think the question that got me into school so early, was based on the reasons why a stone was needed to crack open the stinking toe, and why some of powdery contents flew away on opening. After consultation with our patois speaking neighbour to ask the head teacher to enter my name on the school register, bless her! I naively followed my grandmother, along the quiet road. On arrival in the extremely ‘you cannot hear a pin drop conducive teaching and learning establishment’, after a short wait, she spoke to the Deputy Head - I was given a slate and a piece of chalk – and had no idea when Gran left… my academic journey had commenced….. I recall a few ‘skipped’ classes, this was my cultural educational regime heritage in not allowing any ‘waste of educating time’ for the potentially high attaining child within island education.
I received an email from a friend from the UK, informing me of the closure of a school for ‘expelled from mainstream school’ students, due to no progress being made by the authoritarian bodies. And, of course, one wonders, yes, the list of sociological issues can be made, parents unable to cope, behavioural problems, etc. Realistically speaking, ethnicity plays a big role in ‘expelling’ regime. Some children are not academically inclined, fair enough, but where do their talents or gifts lie, for some it may be in carpentry – there is nothing wrong with that - the world always need good decent carpenters – but suppose parents have their own ‘higher educational dream’ for their little darlings – what’s the end result for the child?
If parental ethnic heritage means nothing in the home and is not significantly respected in favour of Western habits, then that’s up to the parents – they have a right to bring up their kids according to their own formatting.
Some parenting for learning is unsatisfactory, from differing angles, a bright children may be hindered with lack of support or resources or a struggling child may suffer setbacks with loads of resources loads of support, but unable to cope with it all - for example, a child may be compulsory forced to read a book, and when asked polite, simplistic questions about the book or the characters, they show no interest - books was once described as precious, I believe that reading for understanding is even more precious than the book itself! A head teacher once told me that primary children/parents arrive in school boasting that the child can count to 100, but she told me that the parents should teach them how to count to 10 and then manipulate the numbers, eg placing a number one next to a number two to show the number twelve, placing a number two next to a number one to show the number twenty one"!
Classroom competition may accelerate excellence for a child, but on the contrary it may hinder the child progress even for naturally bright children or the struggling child. So, the ‘see saw’ needs to be balanced – who is responsible for this balancing – parents, teachers, child – I believe that this calls for quality care and support preferably from the parent – at the end of the day they have to pick up any of the ‘broken pieces’ .
I believe that learning is made more acceptable when a person knows where they are coming from, ie their heritage, their roots, and not looking to others to respect their heritage, but they themselves showing a significant degree of respect for who they are and where they are coming from….. so children or parents who have adopted a ‘new ethnicity’ based on place of birth – may, be subjected to ‘heritage conflict’ which in turn may lead to ‘education conflict’ – and I believe that all types of ‘conflict’ should be avoided in the very competitive ‘education arena’ – so one must with confidence know who they are, that may be the key to success!