A Look At The Proposed Special Education Survey

Submitted by Looking Glass

 

Hon Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

Why is it that we tend to need or require outsiders, especially those who know little or nothing about the country, to tell us what to do? Is it because it is easier to accept the views of external others, or because it saves us from the painful business of thought and investigation?

According to the Advocate (2/8/2011) the UNICF and the Education Ministry will collaborate on an education project involving 1) a survey of special educational institutions and 2) assessment of teaching and learning at the primary level. We are told that “special problems will be identified and addressed to ensure equity—among other things—across the system.” I do not recall having heard or read much if anything about our “special educational institutions” by the Ministry or officials and wonder who generated the idea. To survey what does not exist suggests the hand of external forces. If so it is likely the survey will be based on theoretical and or philosophical assumptions.

The project as reported suggests the existence of special institutions and the existence of a large number of ‘disadvantaged’ kids. How many special education institutions if any do we have? Does special education relate to mentally and or physically disadvantaged kids? If so how many such kids exist? Historically the incidence of such ‘disadvantaged’ kids has been at best very miniscule. If we now have a large number of such kids in the last 20 or so years it says a lot about the health of the population. The implications are hardly encouraging.

Does special education relate to slow and or below average kids? The existence of such kids is a fact of life in all societies. Nowhere is ability standard across board nor can it be created. Little children go to school and learn. Our value system stressed education as the key to success: to get ahead or to get by. The former meant a white collar job and or pursuit of a post secondary education, the latter meant a trade. Parents sent their kids to private lessons, and along with family, friends and some teachers helped the kids along. It would appear that things have changed in more ways than one. But no special education system can replace that crucial component, nor can it turn the ‘dunce’ into a scholar. On the other hand the dunce given the national socio-economic environment could turn out to be a successful businessman or tradesman. Many Bajans and West Indians including some who failed at the secondary level have done very well in North America.

Let us assume they are 100 or more such kids in each of the North, South, East and West of the country. Are we going to establish a single facility in each region or a department in the each school to accommodate them? I guess we will need specially trained teachers. So will Cave Hill be asked to establish a special education department, or will they be sent overseas for training?

In terms of equity and teaching there was/is no shortage of primary schools or teachers. The same subjects are taught everywhere and there was/is free lunch and health care. Those who failed were allowed to repeat the year. The notion of equity implies ‘imbalances’ within the primary system. Teachers come with varying ability some of which is ‘natural.’ Does imbalances relate to a shortage in trained teachers? If so then, thanks to Mother Nature, there has been and will always be an imbalance which no amount of teacher training can correct. In spite of the shortcomings, real or implied, the end-product when compared to some other places is to be commended. Try giving the Eleven Plus exam to US kids. The results may astound you. Lowering the standards to accommodate the ‘disadvantaged’ however defined in the name of equity would be a great disservice to both the kids and country. A case can be made for changes in the curriculum and presentation but that is beyond the intended survey.

Finally just how does one survey what does not exist? It would seem the project is based on assumptions, in which case the project will likely be a self-fullfilling prophecy. We run the risk of falsely labeling kids as “disadvantaged” in order to prove the point. As I see it the crucial problem(s) is not at the primary level but at the secondary and tertiary levels and will be addressed next time. Our educational institutions need to embrace a curriculum that trains/teaches kids to be self reflective, critical and innovative especially in the social sciences.

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0 responses to “A Look At The Proposed Special Education Survey

  1. A survey needs to be done to find out a few things about primary school education such as; why is it that some class 4 teachers that are getting children ready for the eleven plus want to conduct extra classes with their students for a fee.

    At my childrens school the fee is $20 per child and since we consider this a conflict of interest and will not send our child we find the teacher leaving out certain work in the NORMAL WORKING HOURS. Therefore the children that do not attend this extra 1 hour lesson are falling behind.

    When one questions the establishment as to why class 4 students do not seem able to complete the syllabus we are fobbed off with things like; oh the exam is set up in such a way as that completion of just over half of the syllabus can still allow a bright child to attain a mark of 75%!

    We would also like to know why primary schools are still putting the childrens position in class on their reports. Such a system is known to be damaging to childrens self esteem and generally leads to mediocrity been acceptable so long as you are first in the class.
    How many schools still do this and why/

    Why also do schools insist on having a long drawn out sports session midway through the school term? Why not have this after the exams?

    Why do primary schools not base their points on overall term assessment instead of a one try exam that condemns a nervous or exam poor child to some school that the system classes as ‘THE OTHER”.

    The whole education system needs a shake up.

    Peace

  2. maat
    The primary school my children attended used to get good overall marks in the 11 plus because of the dedication of the teachers. The system used then, was for the teacher who is taking the child to the exam, start working with that child from class 2 onwards. Even at that stage the teacher knew the child who needed extra tuition in any area and would inform the parents. Coming up towards the exam the class 4 teachers used to forfeit their vacation to give extra lessons especially to those who were a little behind, plus to keep the others sharp, some of us parents would offer the teachers a little compensation for their dedication, also the PTA would supply the teachers with reams of paper where the children could do a number of “mock” exams leading up to the 11 plus. When the occasion came most of these children were ready and in most cases we knew how each child would do; we were seldom wrong. I find PTA’s and parents on the whole pay little attention to their children not until it’s time for the 11 plus, by then it’s too late, teachers can’t do all, they need the assistance from the parents and the PTA’s. Like in all things we also had a number of parents who fell into this catagory, but thank God that was in the vast minority and from all strata of society.
    This is what made Charles F Broome and others like this stand up in the 11 plus, at reception we could not know who will be the high flyers, but by nurturing them even from that age to strive for excellence, that we could catagorise the childern and work with them to their ability.

  3. It’s sad that we go to outsiders but who pays the piper calls the tune. What ever is implemented our bankrupt government will probably have to borrow/beg for. Beggars can’t be choosers…

    Extra lessons = conflict of interest but do we as a people truly show how grateful we are to our teachers?

    Educating children is not the governments job. It is a society’s life insurance, and the responsibility of all citizens. Have we gotten so crazy as to think getting them to and from these institutions is half the work of educating? Yes there will be children who are different, and have challenges but if the price of equity is mediocrity, then no thanks.

    I have taught “slow” children at the primary level, they are not failures, we the adults are failing them. Often they have been neglected, at home, or have been through all manner of abuse.

    As for the term special, what about creative genius? by class 1 or 2 they have tuned out of the process. For them primary school is an intolerable bore, so they are not to be found in abundance at the secondary schools most people assume…

    Barbados is Home

  4. @maat | February 25, 2011 at 12:22 AM |
    ” We would also like to know why primary schools are still putting the childrens position in class on their reports. Such a system is known to be damaging to childrens self esteem and generally leads to mediocrity been acceptable so long as you are first in the class.
    How many schools still do this and why/

    Why also do schools insist on having a long drawn out sports session midway through the school term? Why not have this after the exams?

    Why do primary schools not base their points on overall term assessment instead of a one try exam that condemns a nervous or exam poor child to some school that the system classes as ‘THE OTHER”.

    The whole education system needs a shake up.”
    …………………………………………………………………………………………
    maat,
    I have heard about this website, took a look through the topics and have just read your comments. As a parent, I have asked the same as well. However, please remember that our teachers are employees of the system, thus CANNOT make the changes we are concerned about. Many of them have voiced concerned about the system, but are frustrated that Continuous Assessment which was to be implemented under the last administration remains still-born. Apparently, no Minister has been bold enough to dump the CEE.

    The Ministry of Education also ranks schools from the top to the bottom, based on the CEE results. Can you imagine the damage done to the self-esteem of teachers at a school in the bottom 20? The school could be tops in sports, music or other areas, but the final assessment … and the assessment of parents like YOU and me ……. is based on the same CEE alone.

    After which exams would you see the sports taking place? Is it possible for a small school to be playing cricket, football, netball etc., along with participating in athletic sports after the CEE? What about the Class 3 and 2 students who make up the teams for many of the rural schools? Are the Class 4′s the only ones who make up these teams? Do we have the personnel and the Education Ministry the resources to have these activities looked after at the time you suggested? Also, are you aware that the teachers do not plan the schedule for the school year? That is done by personnel within the Education Ministry.

    (From the vocabulary you are using, I assume you are not a Bajan or have spent time abroad; we do not talk about “points” in Barbados, but we use the term “marks” ….same meaning. My children’s schools, and MANY others, never did, nor still do not give positions for the 1st and 2nd Terms; that only happens for Term 3. Not only that, many schools give class prizes, not for overall academic performance, but for improved performance, consistency, sports, behaviour, attendance and excellent work in other subjects apart from Maths and English. Therefore, you need to survey what happens at the majority of our schools and not …apparently, base your comments on the ones you know about.)

    As AOD stated, “Extra lessons = conflict of interest, but do we as a people truly show how grateful we are to our teachers?”

    “Educating children is not the government’s job. It is a SOCIETY’S life insurance, and the responsibility of ALL CITIZENS.”

    Again, @AOD, “slow” children at the primary level, …… are not failures, WE the adults are failing them. Often they have been neglected, at home, or have been through all manner of abuse.” AMEN!!!!! And we do NOT have the resources/funding to give each parish a psychologist or guidance counselor, provide trained persons to teach slow-learners in each school, nor are teachers adequately trained to deal with ODD, ADHD, or all the other D’s we are now hearing about. I am sure that AOD will tell you that teachers are not the ones who tell children about a “good school”, parents ….. and others in society are the chief offenders. Also, the media does not highlight the child who was scoring 10% going into Class 4 and moves to 25% in the CEE. They highlight the so-called top students. Check which schools the media flock to when the results are back; not the rural schools……99% of the time it’s to the “elite” schools in St. Michael.

    About 7 years ago, about 7 of the top 10 students, including the top male and female, were from rural parishes ….. . The top female student whose family is from a working class background was never recognized by the media until after her primary school graduation had passed. Yet, others who scored fewer marks were highlighted ….. most likely because of their upscale social backgrounds and parents’ occupations. A similar fate was also visited on the male student whose father will still tell you, “I never had a chance to go to high school!”

    maat, even though I am in agreement with your concerns, I still did not see you saying how we can “shake up” the WHOLE EDUCATION SYSTEM. How should we, as a society, start? What resources are needed? What time-line …or how long will it take for the WHOLE system to be shaken up?
    …………………………………..
    @The Scout | February 25, 2011 at 8:37 AM |
    maat
    The primary school my children attended used to get good overall marks in the 11 plus because of the dedication of the teachers. The system used then, was for the teacher who is taking the child to the exam, start working with that child from class 2 onwards. Even at that stage the teacher knew the child who needed extra tuition in any area and would inform the parents. Coming up towards the exam the class 4 teachers used to forfeit their vacation to give extra lessons especially to those who were a little behind, plus to keep the others sharp, some of us parents would offer the teachers a little compensation for their dedication”
    ………… I AM WITH YOU, SCOUT. THIS IS STILL TAKING PLACE AT MANY SCHOOLS I KNOW ABOUT! YES! SOME TEACHERS ARE CHARGING A FEE….CONFLICT OF INTEREST…… OTHERS ARE WORKING FREE OF COST ON MONDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS OR TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS …….AFTER SCHOOL ….. AND SOME PARENTS CAN AFFORD TO GIVE THE CHILDREN CELLPHONES AND AT LEAST $10 A WEEK FOR THE PHONES, BUT CANNOT AFFORD $20 TO HELP BUY PAPER AND PRINTER INK FOR THE WHOLE TERM FOR THESE EVENING SESSIONS!!!!
    ….
    Again, to maat,
    I would prefer to work with our present crop of teachers rather than just criticize. Go into the schools, ask for a copy of the schedule for the year, like I did, look at the numerous activities the students are required to be involved in and see for yourself that the syllabus is indeed too heavy from way down at Infants level, resources for most schools are very scarce, parents are focused on material things only and most teachers never get a word of thanks from parents. DO SOMETHING TO SHAKE UP THE SYSTEM AT YOUR LOCAL LEVEL; SOME OF US ARE ALREADY DOING IT.

  5. Special education institutions is a term that maybe used to refer to persons with disabilities. In Barbados such institutions would include: The Ann Hill School, The Irving Wilson School, The Sunshine Early Stimulation Centre, The Learning Centre and The Challenor School.
    The letter writer may not be aware but the latter institution is temporarily closed dud to lack of funding with limited provisions made for the student population. So that there are persons in Barbados who are of school age who because of some physical or mental challenge may not be getting the education they require and that legally they are entitled to.
    The letter writer appears to suggests that this survey is seeking to address issues that do not exist and appears to imply that this research is being engineered by UNICEF!!
    I humbly suggests that rather than be dismissive of this initiative it might serve the letter writer to contact a cross section of the agencies associated with persons living with disabilities. This would afford him or her the opportunity to increase their awareness of educational and training needs and concerns of not only children and youth but adults living with disabilities in Barbados!

  6. Off topic

    What is this all about!!!

    BOTHA REVEALS PLANS TO WIPE OUT BLACKS

    This speech was made by the former South Africa Prime Minister Pieter Willem Botha (1978-1989) to his cabinet. This reprint was written by David G. Millum for the Sunday Times, a South African newspaper,dated August 18, 1985. Invisible Magazine would like its readers to analyse every sentence in this speech, and open their eyes to see the "Naked Terrorism" of the world we live in today.

    "Pretoria has been made by the White mind for the White man. We are not obliged even the least to try to prove to anybody and to the Blacks that we are superior people. We have demonstrated that to the Blacks in a thousand and one ways. The Republic of South Africa that we know of today has not been created by wishful thinking. We have created it at the expense of intelligence, sweat and blood. Were they Afrikaners who tried to eliminate the Australian Aborigines? Are they Afrikaners who discriminate against Blacks and call them Nigge*rs in the States? Were they Afrikaners who started the slave trade? Where is the Black man appreciated? England discriminates against its Black and their "Sus" law is out to discipline the Blacks. Canada, France, Russia, and Japan all play their discrimination too. Why in the hell then is so much noise made about us? Why are they biased against us? I am simply trying to prove to you all that there is nothing unusual we are doing that the so called civilized worlds are not doing. We are simply an honest people who have come out aloud with a clear philosophy of how we want to live our own White life.

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