Monday, July 22, 2024

Editorial: Is Our Education System Missing the Message?


Last week, on the one year anniversary of the passing of the Father of our Nation, Right Honorable George Cadle Price, the radio station Love FM replayed some of his speeches from years ago. It was inspiring to hear his eloquent words of encouragement, reflection and foresight. In an address first aired in 1965 Price spoke of education and asked, “Why are our students learning about the mighty Mississippi River in the United States when they know nothing of the river that flows in front of their very school”? His point being that the education system was far sighted, leaving the things closer to home unlearned. Ironically, 47 years later the message Mr. Price delivered still echoes true today.

On the very day I contemplated the question Price had posed, a couple of Standard II students visited our office. Since we are located less than a block from the Roman Catholic School it is not unusual to have students stop by to ask for help with their homework by means of finding information on the Internet and occasionally printing material for them. We are happy to accommodate these students whenever we can and they are all very polite and careful not to wear out their welcome. It was when I discovered what their assignment was that Mr. Price’s words rang all too true. Each student was to provide four graphics along with a description of devices that were used to torture slaves…REALLY???

Upon doing a search on the Internet, and horrified at the gruesome, barbaric drawings and photos that had me telling the students to LOOK AWAY from my monitor screen I had to think Mr. Price would find this a sad day indeed. How on Earth does this information benefit the mind of a young child? Of course slavery is an ugly part of our past and it is essential as a part of history that children learn of the atrocities, but why must they delve into the gory, brutal details? How can a young mind that at this point is so very tender and impressionable ever be better off knowing the painful details of such suffering? Yes, speak of the ugliness, speak of balls and chains and whips and grotesque facemasks and then move on, why must they memorize and study these items of torture?

I do not believe in keeping the truth of ugly things a secret from children but I will never understand why they should study it to such an extent? I can only hope that they also learn of how the culture of slaves is an essential part of the heritage that makes up Belize and beyond, and that the story of their survival is one of inspiration. Let us not study the means by which they suffered but how they lifted themselves above oppression and despair.

Let’s make Mr. Price proud and focus on learning about Belize, the good, the bad and the not so detailed ugly before turning to issues far from home. As important as global issues may be (past and current), the more our students learn about our country the prouder they will be to call her home.

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