Special Education in Barbados should be off to a better start come September thanks to the Barbados Union of Teachers in conjunction with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.
That should be the result of the Summer Institute on Special Education for Teachers, which they agencies are jointly putting on.
At the opening ceremony of the 10-day programme at the Deighton Griffith Secondary School this morning, team leader Brian Gallagher of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation stated that he was pleased with the partnership between the union and his organisation.
“I will assure you we will work hard to offer the best of professional development. We will work towards the goal of successful education for all students… We will [see] how we can better serve our students this September and beyond.”
President of the BUT, Pedro Shepherd, stated that striving for excellence was needed while at the same time recognising the value of everyone’s education towards making a society function.
“We know that all learners learn at different rates but yet sometimes we preach something else and that is why I believe there is some confusion surrounding the BSSEE and what I consider to be a nonsensical debate now taking place on the performance of private schools versus public schools.
“We allow for deferral at primary level and ‘stop down’ at secondary school… Those who are deferred or [who were held back] are usually the under achievers, 99.9 percent of the time… What is needed is specialised programmes for the not so bright, not so intelligent that they may develop at their pace and be the best they can be,” Shepherd said.
He added that this type of training should be used to make interventions in the lives of the weaker children when it is most critical. Shepherd noted too that teachers who improve their professional status for upward mobility needed to be recognised.
“If it is one sector in this country that is producing it is the education sector — both teachers and students continue to enhance the human resources of Barbados,” Shepherd added.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones, in his address, compared the self reflective practitioner with the self indulgent teacher.
“The self reflective practitioner takes nothing for granted,” Jones said. “They deliver to the students and asks himself or herself several questions everyday, especially when you look at your students…:
“Was there more that I could have done? Did I teach the subject correctly and appropriately? What are the benefits to what I have taught those children? Did I do the necessary research? Did I consult my colleagues?”
However, with the self indulgent practitioner, he explained, his or her ego takes possession and the students fail.
“The students are not successful because you do not see your colleague as worthy, you do not see your colleague as having the ability to share… You have to constantly seek new knowledge and new information with children,” he said.
Jones advised the teachers to learn beyond their first and second degrees and recognise that learning must be constant.
“This is what the self reflective practitioner does, constantly learns, changes and modifies his or her own behaviour to make learning real and authentic,” he added. (MR)