The Grenville Phillips Column | Letter – Perpetuating Mental Slavery
Our children are currently preparing for the Common Entrance Examination, so we can expect the same debates about the exam that we have been having for the past 40 years. Imagine that. We essentially waste our time on this issue every year while our politicians make no meaningful improvements. Well, not under a Solutions Barbados administration.
The two sides of this debate are that some want to abolish the exam while some want to keep it. The reasons for each side are many and diverse, and all of them have merit.
The main reasons advanced for abolishing the exam are the belief that it perpetuates an elitist society, and that one examination should not have such serious consequences on a child’s future. On the other side, persons believe that it is the fairest method available for allocating students to schools that have a history of higher academic performance and discipline.
Barring any permanent mental challenges, with time, all of our students can master all of the information that they are taught. However, some of them, whom we call early learners, will learn it before their peers.
For example, some of our children may be able to write the alphabet earlier, when they are 4 years old, while others may learn it later when they are 6. If our children are examined on their knowledge of the alphabet when they are 5 years old, then those who learnt the information earlier will do better. However, if all students are examined when they are 6 years old, when all students understand the material, then the test will be fair to all.
We currently teach and examine all students on the information that only the early learners have the capacity to fully understand. Therefore, the early learners tend to do well and are assigned to secondary schools with other early learners. The late learners tend to do poorly in this exam that is designed for early learners, and are assigned to secondary schools with other late learners.
Some late learners will develop into early learners after they have been assigned and will outperform their peers. The remaining late learners will then become: frustrated at not being able to understand the material, discouraged at the consistent low scores they receive, and disinterested in the subject. They finally stop trying to learn when they believe the lie that the information can only be understood by a person who is intellectually superior.
Our school system reinforces the idea in our children and parents that the early learners are intellectually superior high-achievers, and should be directed to more academic study. The late learners are deemed intellectually inferior low-achievers, and are encouraged to work with their hands. When parents and teachers have given-up on our late learners, we perpetuate a slavery mentality that some of us must advance so far and no further. This is the root cause of many of our social problems.
There appears to be a failure to appreciate that when a late learner is allowed to understand what the early learner learnt previously, then both the early and late learners can perform at an equal level of competence. They are all high achievers then, with the same level of aptitude. In a Solutions Barbados administration, the Common Entrance Examination will be fair, and the school curriculum will be rearranged so that it benefits all of our students, instead of only our early learners.
The Government mandates that all parents must send their children to school. After daily rewarding our early learners and frustrating our late learners, the school system sends them back to their parents with false notions of intellectual superiority and inferiority.
Our school system has done all of our students and parents, employees and employers a grave disservice. It has perpetuated the slavery idea that some are entitled to privilege, while others are to go so far and no further. For overseeing this most diabolical system for the past 40 years, and refusing to listen to any voice of justice, the BLP and DLP do not deserve a single seat in our Parliament.