Some Barbadian teachers need to get real for their own good and that of their students.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones gave that advice to a group of them today, directing his comments especially at those instructing youngsters at secondary schools.
He was speaking this morning at the opening of a degree course at Erdiston Teacher’s Training College, in an address which turned into a near hour long pep talk for teachers present, after the minister said “there is nothing in my head that I really want to say”.
Jones said it was important for men and women teaching Barbadian teenagers to know how to deal with certain advances that would come their way, and that they were in a “real world” where information communication technology allowed their students to have certain knowledge they as teachers sometimes did not possess.
“Those in secondary schools … have a more difficult journey because you have students in their teenage years and the turmoil of their beings taking place. How do you deal with that? How do you deal as a young female teacher with a bearded fifth former who comes to you and say ‘Ma’am I like you!’?” he asked.
“Do you say ‘Get far from me boy!’? Because he doesn’t see himself as a boy anymore. He is 16 years old, he has parts on him that are longer than your hands. This is the real world, you work in the real world. This is no movie that you pay $3 to go and watch. How do you deal with that young male. The first thing you do is rush to the principal and complain?
“He is not rude, he is searching for a purpose. You have to help him find that purpose… Is that a teaching moment or is that a moment of condemnation? Every moment for teachers must be a teaching moment, so you take that which you were confronted with and turn it into a teaching moment and the respect grows. If you do something else, there is no respect, problems ensue and you have an enemy as a female teacher,” Jones said.
The minister, who was a teacher for 27 years, said males in the profession faced similar challenges, noting “there are females in the classroom as you enter well dressed, smelling nice. She is smelling you from a distance and her brain locks onto you. Her emotions are being stirred and for the 40 or 35 minutes that you are teaching that class she has assimilated nothing, not one thing has gone into her head. She just wants to waylay you at break time, lunch time or evening and hope you are not in a compromised position”.
“She comes up to you, ‘Sir, I like how you smell today, there is dub show on… Do you go to such things, Sir?’. That time her eyes are winking and you are young, and she wants to say to you ‘Are you going because I am going to be there’; she is setting up a date with you, but how far are you going to cross over? Are you going to keep that social distance (and say) ‘Yes I am going! Are you going to enjoy yourself with your friends?’
“You don’t cause her to lose her own face, her own self. It is how you manage and handle all of those things,” the minister stated. Another scenario, Jones said, was “the young male who comes to you a male and says, ‘Sir you got anything in the car?’.”
“What is he asking you about? What is he asking you for? Not drugs, he wants to protect himself because he has lined up something. Is that going to be a teaching moment as well? It has to be … a teaching moment because he might be too young to deal with whatever he has lined up because the classroom is a real world,” he asserted.
“As teachers sometimes we go into the classroom as though it is hidden away from the world. A classroom is not hidden aware from the world, the children come from the world, you too. Should the world’s collide? No they should not collide because if there is a collision in there it pits you against them and they cannot pit you against the students, there must be complementary relationships in the classroom.
“The friction that we get is because the relationships are not complementary. The teacher is miserable, fretful, a simple look is a simple war and students exploit your weaknesses, every single minute of the day… I know of what I speak. I have taught so I know the real world. I was not always a minister, I should still be a teacher, you get pay better as a teacher than a minister. You can keep all yours, I can keep none of mine so that is the reality,” he added. (SC)