By creating preschool and old people’s homes, we have separated those two sets of people that need to be closest. We go into the old people’s homes, and we see them sitting down and talking, and they are talking to nobody that we can see, because the ones they should have been talking to have been separated.
–– Dr Editha “Nancy” Fergusson-Jacobs, tutor of the Barbados Community College.
Let’s face it, author and culturist Dr Editha Fergusson-Jacobs has made a most salient and crucial point about the structured hurdle to the passing of knowledge and understanding by our older folk to our nation’s children. But the essence of it may have gone over the heads of many a listener at last Friday’s Democratic Labour Party lunchtime lecture, or been taken away with their empty plates.
Our politicians and their adherents –– for the sake of the youth vote –– are not particularly enamoured of the notion that our young people need seek any wisdom from the nation’s senior citizens and ageing; not when they can be so easily degreed, and are hotly savvy with today’s technology –– which they blindly gobble up.
Our political powers that be generally are self-satisfied promoting the myth that our young need no counsel from older and experienced heads, as they are sufficiently educated, as though learning ends with the acquisition of a college or university diploma.
True education is lifelong learning, spurred by those who have been around before us –– who have gone there, done that. The blunt truth is the younger of us will come to nothing of great substance without the unique intervention of the older analytical human mind.
To throw Dr Editha Fergusson-Jacobs’ intergenerational caution to the wind will be to plunge ourselves –– young and old –– further into the abyss of disconnection, disorientation, unholistic purpose, and despair.
Our younger generation, already preoccupied with computer games and social media, at the earliest of ages, are in too many cases grossly inefficient or ineffectual in natural social skills, and severely challenged in traditional educational and cultural pursuits –– even unable to carry on any in-depth conversation.
Even more, if we could pursue Dr Editha Fergusson-Jacobs’ dream, it would indeed be challenging to have many of our junior nationals simply spend time listening. It is not unnoticeable that the art of listening is dying, as demonstrated daily on our radio call-in programmes. This bodes nothing but danger and disaster for our society.
A fallout of the social media obsession, with its ugly, odious and truncated texting is the destruction of the English language, its comprehension and spelling as we once knew it. Then we rant and rave –– on radio –– when even people with degrees can hardly write a proper job application letter, or when a winning senior school athlete is unable to express himself coherently on his techniques for victory.
Clearly, our youth need guidance; and they must be encouraged to take it. All youth have always needed instruction and counselling, to be frank. And where they were not forthcoming, our young were left to their devices –– and demises.
Thus, aided and abetted by flattery and political posturing, an arrogance –– sadly and mistakenly presented as self-confidence –– abounds among our young, bolstered by a manufactured belief that the older generation would simply have our youth seen and not heard
One youth advocate once surmised that the older among us seemed to think that a person had to see a good number of sunrises and sunsets to have an opinion and to be able to contribute to the growth of a country, which alleged position he termed outdated and symbolic of ignorance.
Actually, anyone can have an opinion. Ask David Ellis, or Dennis Johnson, or Maureen Holder, or John Lovell. But opinions are often of little worth if they are not informed or rooted in wide knowledge and experience. And this all comes by the sunrise and sunset – and the full moon.
We will be doing Barbadian youth a great disservice by leading them to believe that their challenges along life’s course will be overcome and resolved merely by their own imput. It will be another political outlandish promise remaining unfulfilled. We must arm our youth with recommendations of self-upliftment of proper note –– and outside the political posturing.
Dr Fergusson-Jacobs laments the lack of knowledge among our children of the old Bajan proverbs, the old Bajan terms, the old Bajan dishes –– on account of the divide between our seniors and our infants, our minors, our adolescents. Along with all this will come in tow a paucity of the moral grounding on which this island has stood all these years.
We are not unmindful of fantasy author J.K. Rowling’s reminder that “youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men [and women] are guilty if they forget what it was to be young”.
There is urgent need for correction and redirection –– such as occupies the middle ground!