This letter is not an attack on present day teachers, but I am of the opinion that teachers who taught during the 50s/60s were more concerned and caring than present day teachers.
I attended St Aidan’s Anglican School of Wismar before Guyana became an independent nation. My school headmasters from time to time were Mr Kilkenny, Mr Glen, and Mr Noble.
During that period, persons my age had fewer subjects to study than there are today. There was dictation, spelling, mental, civics, reading, poetry, grammar and a few others. I would like to make comments on those I have made mention of starting with Dictation which was a daily feature in every classroom from our Nelson West Indian reading books. If or when errors were made each wrong word was written 25 times as a punishment. Mental was done immediately after lunch either written or oral from many topics and a system of take down was introduced when students were unable to answer questions correctly. Civics was the study of the Local Authorities and Government systems. Poetry was rhymes and drama. Public Reading was standing before our class mates and reading loudly. Spelling was another subject which made us read more frequently. Grammar made us speak better English. Physical Hygiene taught us to be clean and tidy. Learning of the tables was a necessary and a very important subject, because if you can’t count and calculate you gon get rob.
Today, while there are many more subjects none of the above is taught at most schools.
Our school teachers, to name a few, Mr Leslie Hopkinson or (Hoppy), Mr Lloyd Austin, owner of Austin’s book shop, Ms Gloria Layne (former Mayor of Linden town), Ms Henry (music teacher), Shirley Small, Mr Brown (woodwork master), Mr Desmond Holder, the late Leslie James (Gammo) and Mr Muller (my first teacher at St Aidan’s school who gave me my alias brother (P) all need to be complimented, including those I did not mention for a job well done. Our national songs aren’t taught at schools today. There aren’t any singing competitions among schools either.
Our school teachers stayed long hours after school to give to students extra lessons most afternoons, they even visited our homes to discuss our shortcomings with parents. School compounds were well kept. Today, according to statistics students are more brilliant and educated, but, I have seen many school compounds filled with garbage and bush that would make any concerned person sick and it seems no one cares too much. The destruction of furniture by students in some schools and disrespect for teachers and each other is the going thing. We need to teach our children at home in order for them to understand that school is a serious place.
I’m aware of the economic crisis within Guyana, but teaching is a special skill, persons who have chosen this profession must first love or like what they intend to become involved with. There is an old saying, “A leader’s desire should not be to lead, but to serve”.
The Ministry of Education needs to seriously revisit some of the old educational systems in order to see where we have gone wrong. In my opinion, Dictation, Spelling, Public Reading, Learning tables, Grammar, our national songs and poetry need to be reintroduced into our schools. Some would say, this is the computer age, but when the lights go off and our computers cannot function, what do we do?