By  EWALT AINSWORTH                             08 24 2012

Results at the last CXC regional examinations were exceptionally disappointing, and from this day forward CARIBBEAN educators and educationists have got to get into the habit of teaching children how to ask questions rather than answering questions.  There is a felt and immediate need to change the old thinking of getting students to cram and cog and expect tremendous results at the end of the semester and or exams.  In essence of cramming and cogging is short term and has the effect of teaching them how to steal and deal and look for performance enhancement drugs.  Taking ownership of the questions has the opposite effect.

And when the child is programmed to ask questions there is dual learning; the child learns and the teacher or parent learns simultaneously.  Having the child google the answer or go to the library and spend hours chatting on Facebook is not lifting and creating the incentive for creative learning.  Asking questions is taking ownership of the outcomes and the examination process must be revised to magnify and emphasise interactions.   

When a child is three or four years he or she cannot sit still; it is question after auestion after question and sometimes the parent themselves do not know the answer.  In cases like these when parents get together, they boast to their  friends and family how cute and sharp the kid is and make a decision to send them to private school…sometimes as far away as the Falklands.  By the time the child comes back, dumb as ass, on drugs, confused, pregnant.  And sometimes all of the above.

Children should be encouraged to ask questions…both divergent and convergent.  But unfortunately in the region and elsewhere, they are shut up with a thump, a box or a kick or sometimes all of the above.

The CXC exams results is the cumulative effect of that bump and thump to shut up and be quiet.  That maxim…CHILDREN MUST BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD should be modified to CHILDREN MUST ASK QUESTIONS.

Children must be encouraged to shape and take ownership of questions and in so doing they will also take ownership of the answers.  But when you simply teach just to illicit an answer you are not creating an environment for tolerance, plurality, originality and creativity.

Some questions are open ended while some promote discussions.  The questions that promote discussions are almost always avoided because of the rigid time factor and the mediocre status of teachers mimicking commonsense.

When children can be programmed to ask the questions, they will also be unconsciously weaving a narrative as to what is right and what is wrong.  They will also know how far to push the envelope and be able to transfer that question asking ability into all social and professional ambits.

But yes/no and multiple choice questions limit the interaction so desperately needed for problem solving and integration at so many levels.

The essence of a true democracy is having the politicians interacting and answering the questions and facing the issues real and perceived.  In the Caribbean we have leaders when elections over, they never come over.  Right now Linden is in crisis it was not until Ramotar heard that there might be a coup that he made a decision to go visit for half a day under heavy security.  But that is a matter for a different arena.  (His days are numbered).

Guyana’s Education Minister…is furious with results at CXC in recent history.  She and her administration are part of the problem, and parents and the business community should get into the business of asking questions.  In a few years it is these kids of questionable intelligence who would be running things and if we want the best value for the buck, do not run or duck…teach them to ask and take ownership of the questions.

One response to this post.

  1. Encouraging our children and students to ask questions requires self-confidence on the part of parents and teachers and the openness to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers.


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