Jurassic Park: Trinidad Education-style

Sherma Wilson, you don’t know me; we’ve never met. I think we traded messages briefly on Facebook a couple years ago, but I giving yuh wuk to do.

Most of your listeners are from the lower-income, depressed communities in the country; try and get some of them into Parliament nah, and other boards and State institutions. I know, plenty of them eh have no big setta education and degree and some probably cyar even form a proper sentence. But that might all be a good thing. I serious eh, dead serious; since I wrote about changing the political system in Parliament, I serious.

Because this level of arseness getting out of hand now. Sooo we have indiscipline in schools, fighting, delinquency, disregard for authority. The solution is to shorten recess and lunchtime?! Herd primary school students into already crowded, restrictive rooms? People went to university to come up with that bullshit reasoning? And I beating up myself because I never attended university jred, wayyyyy. This song had to have been composed in Trinidad or for Trinidadians.

Hear nah, this eh no banana republic; I love bananas WAY too much. This place is a Jurassic Park, filled with dinosaurs (apologies to the original dinosaurs). Does the bloody clown who made that suggestion know any history? Does he know our schools have a colonial legacy of herding children into boxes so as to breed conformity? The same system that herded their parents into barrack yards and invisibilised rural communities, only useful for labour pools and vote banks every 5 years?

Is Jurassic Man aware that school violence suggests a troubled, violent domestic environment? Does he know that that stems from a home/community environment anchored in a wider society built around violent aggression and double-standards towards those in authority? I mean, it was pointed out in the same press conference that pupils often come from environments where they witness their fathers beating up their mothers so, y’know, there’s a bit of a link somewhere. Does he understanding the importance of play in instilling bonding and learning….and sports for redirecting aggressive energies? More importantly, in an environment that already alienates adults, far less children, is he aware that the removal of privileges often increases resentment? He ever heard of a place called Finland?

Anyway who’s going to tell him, a boss who shuts down any discussion of sex education in schools claiming that that is for adults like the parents? The same parents who themselves were not taught sex-ed when they were in school? The same parents, many of whom became parents because of that instilled ignorance? The same parents who, because of the constant, unceasing, relentless demands for increased production from a capitalist ethic are hardly ever home in the first place? What fucking mind-dizzying dotishness is this I hearing jred?!

Sherma, please, get them organised. Doh worry that they mightn’t own a suit; the mere fact that we have people still wearing that costume in this tropical climate is proof alone there won’t be much independent ideas coming from them anyway. Listen to Chalkdust’s kaiso “We Kinda Leader”, listen to every word about how the best people to lead this country have to come from lived experiences where they know the everyday problems because of incompetence, stupidity, mismanagement and old colonial systems of administration and dispensing of justice. Then listen to Kurt Alleyne’s kaiso “Too Bright” and understand that the problem we have in this country that leads to crime is because we have too many people with irrelevant theories in high office.

Because nobody, nobody with common sense would go on national TV and call for a shortening of lunch and recess, penning in very active students inside classrooms. Only someone exceptionally brilliant could suggest that.

Then again, maybe he really does have a point, violence will be reduced because with a 30-minute lunch break, bullies will reason they have to move faster because they only have half-hour to beat up someone….yeaaahhhh. It really does make sense that way…it makes as much sense as a principal in a school in Gasparillo who, when faced with students smoking ganja under a tree, wanted to solve the problem by cutting down the tree.

Listen, because apparently I need to spell it out, Trinidad and Tobago as a country, came out of colonial rule. The traditions and institutions that were developed during that period had nothing to do with creating any cohesive, independently-minded society; no one educates you to take away power they themselves hold illegitimately. As such our legal and education systems were created to instill order and control over the labouring masses; it had nothing to do with justice or fostering innovativeness. The current indiscipline is not current but represents a self-regenerating cycle of exploitation, marginalisation, resistant responses and manipulation of those responses by the political elites – the old ones and those who joined with them in 1962. The disciplinary measures that inform the desire to shorten lunch and recess times come from authoritarian methods that were reflections of the plantation disciplinary model. All one has to do is read David Trotman’s book on Crime in 19th century Trinidad and make the connections. The ways we go about dealing with issues of rebellion, delinquency, and “crime” in ways that place greater emphasis on punishment comes from our own internalising of racist European ideas of the natural criminality and laziness of labouring classes in general and African people in particular.

Therefore, we have to make extra efforts, always with an understanding that we are operating with colonial institutions and reflexive ideas, to change the direction of the cycle. It calls for new ideas that scholars in North America cannot completely provide. So here’s a naïve idea, why not create more outlets for children to not only channel their aggression, but also to work out strategies, solutions, imaginative thinking? There is an interesting article in the TAPIA journal back in 1973 that he may want to read; it looked at the way sports, particularly cricket and football became outlets for youth aggression. The same goes for music and arts programs (you might want to let the Mayor of Port of Spain and the POS City Corporation sit this one out though). I’m sure a trip to the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies in Tunapuna or Kasala Kamara’s Sando Educational Workshop on Princess Margaret St., San Fernando isn’t too hard; I’ve been to both places.

And to the Jurassics who think insist on the punitive-centric approach, do something for me; since you not going to change your views, at least haul back up the Union Jack. If your answer to child/teenage delinquency is to pen them up even further, or the solution for “crime” is to put more police, more army, more patrol boats, more weapons, at least do it properly.

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6 thoughts on “Jurassic Park: Trinidad Education-style

  1. Jurassic Park is right. No more Banana Republic. All I could think when I heard of this 30-min lunch thing is “WHO thought this was a good idea?” Do these people even THINK? I ask rhetorically, knowing the answer’s been shared loud & clear.

    It’s like as the world moves forward the T’dad ‘government’ seems to move backward. I don’t even know if ‘God help them’ applies. They might be beyond help.

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  2. Sigh…sometimes I wonder if we really think about our kids or what makes our life more comfortable. Some schools in the USA have incorporated meditation and they are seeing an improvement in behaviour. I am sure they could come up with a better solution than this.

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