Wednesday, Aug 5, 2020
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The importance of education

Dear Editor,

I was all set to write about the recent debates about the constituency changes until I had a conversation with a friend having a problem with what was being taught in his child’s class.  He said that he had a struggle with what was going on in his son’s class, because some of the teachers were of the opinion that children are able to teach themselves if you just leave them alone.  He got the impression that teaching was like an extended vacation for some of the teachers, and what he really found alarming was that some of the ‘teachers’ were not really qualified to teach and were just muddling their way through.  Perhaps, teaching has evolved and the three Rs have been replaced by something else.  But for a person to be taught, discipline is required.  Maybe, we are too close to our friends in the North, but there are some fundamentals that do not change if that gray matter between our ears is going to be inclined towards a coherent response to the trials that beset all sanctioned beings.

I was never big on school, did not have time for it really.  Only after I got out of school did I see the value of ‘education’.  I was blessed with one of the best English teachers in my high school days, but my attitude was so misdirected that I thought I would show Juliette Barnwell who the boss was by not taking the English Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exam in 1967.  I went to night school in 1968, but I showed her.  A couple of decades later I met her at the post office, she looked at me and said three words, “Nice letters, Hutcheson.”  It had taken her a couple of decades, but she finally got her message across.

I reflect on this because the importance of education was revealed to me when I got out of the setting that gave it to me on a silver plate.  A philosopher has said that education is like a wealthy person handing out gold on a street corner, but there are few takers.  My friend should be concerned, because he is giving out a lot of ‘gold’ for his child to be educated.  But with all the modernistic relativity going through the heads of those who are supposed to teach, it is going to be very difficult for some teachers to comprehend what their jobs are.  Children are to be brought to a place where they are able to fend for themselves in a world that is going to be unforgiving; and if education and educators have a singular task, it is to prepare them for that eventuality.  Some children will stay home and be safe there, but C.S. Lewis reminds us that even ‘safe’ is a relative term.  The early years in the classroom add up to a time of structuring, rote, the 3Rs and all that stuff, and a teacher’s job is to make it fun and not to look for consensus from their charges about how they should be doing things in the classroom.  If we are adults, we have had enough experience to know that the good stuff will take hard work, but it will be worth it.

What is education?  It is a preparation for what we call the dialectic period or the teenage years, when the questions come forth.  Some parents use it as a time of severe discipline – the old do as I say line.  This is when all the ‘acting out’ takes place and we see the children as just being rude; but someone hasn’t done their job.  This is when the results of teaching are revealed; if our children do not make it out of this period, they probably will not make it.  Education and direction give them the tools to navigate and excel in this hormone filled time.  This time is often a bumpy ride for parents who have not guided the process and teachers who have to deal with teenagers who have not been properly engaged in the process.

My friend and I will talk this weekend.  I told him that I know a couple of persons in education who remind me of my high school English teacher.  I should be able to give him some recommendations that will not cost him as much.


– Edward Hutcheson

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