The spike in negative reporting and commentary in recent weeks on our very young in our schools may just have run into a wall of sturdy positive positioning. There is no dearth right now of school representatives pointing to the good things students do, nor lack of hope in better deeds yet these youth will commit too for the future.
For example, primary school principal Angela Smith is not dispirited by the “much negativity [that] continues to be publicized about our children”, for it is her “firm belief that there are still . . . youth in our island involved in positive activities, and display positive traits which are worthy of emulation by their peers”.
The Gordon Greenidge Primary School head, addressing staff and students last Monday at a prefects installation, spoke with a measure of pride and confidence, even as national debate raged on about poor and undesirable behaviour by pupils in the classroom. Ms Smith would not be deterred from her mission of fashioning
a path of shared leadership upon which her new and young would-be exemplars might tread.
Featured speaker at the school ceremony, fellow educator Joy Henry, buttressed Ms Smith’s dream with much timely advice. The young prefects were told they must aim for excellence –– a much discarded thing these days –– while being outstanding in their conduct, deportment and attitude. And she encouraged them to be fair and just.
They were not to favour their friends over other students, allowing them to get away with wrong in the glare of the school public. Equality would be the word! And most importantly –– in our view –– the young prefects, by their show of courtesy, best practices, trustworthiness and a passion for not letting their school down, would be so demonstrative as to set a positive example for other pupils to proudly copy.
Of course, this modus operandi would be fervently encouraged by parents, as by teachers, seeing how such support could be a measure of how fathers and mothers truly valued their children and of how serious a focus they had on the learning, progress and attainment of their young in the schools.
For a school is excellent to the extent that its students are proud of their learning, their development and environment, achievements and accomplishments. It is excellent too to the extent that its old scholars remember it fondly and contribute to its sustained good character and continued successes.
And so another positive picture was painted at St Bartholomew’s Primary School this week as well, where a group presented to their alma mater a digital camera and projector for classwork. For group leader Meta Edghill, a retired senior education officer, the presentation was touching, being able to give back to “a school that we cherish; the school that brings back fond memories to us of the days that we played and had fun”.
Added Ms Edghill: “We recognized with the pressures of life our children need some other encouragement; so we thought we would give something tangible to the school; we would make some contribution . . . .”
We insist that a school is good to the extent that its dreams, hopes and achievements both within and without are valued and celebrated, that staff and students –– present and past –– are committed to its successes, and caring enough to encourage and inspire positive relationships amongst everyone and develop sound students’ self-esteem.
Elsewhere, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council executive director was expressing his faith in our youth in so far as the improvement and expansion of agriculture in Barbados were concerned. He sees our young changing the mindsets and approaches to farming in this country, given the knowledge that has been passed on to them –– through the Youth In Agriculture Farm Programme, hosted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agricuture.
Mr Eastmond sees our young growing more of what we eat, thus making greater use of more natural fruits, vegetables and other materials around us. Those youth who are patient and have a positive attitude –– which they should acquire from school –– and are willing to stick by their efforts will be the ones to come out on top, the educator believes.
We couldn’t agree more. There is scope for our young in agriculture. It can be much more than a labour of love; from it a decent living may be made. On top of that, one gets to be closer to nature –– a practice which these days of hustle and bustle escapes so many of us.
All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all.
. . . Including the soil of the earth and all therein. Our youth have so much to look forward to after all!