Barbara Parris, Principal of the Erdiston Teacher’s Training College and Ronald Jones, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, addresses teachers at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, yesterday, at the start of the one-year training??programme. (A.Miller/BGIS)

Teachers must be life-long learners and avoid being fossilised!

This admonition came yesterday from the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, as he addressed the start of a one-year programme, for over 40 teachers, at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College.

Referring to the example of a doctor not refreshing his knowledge and seeing a reduction in patient numbers, Mr. Jones said: "You are not going to go to that doctor; he is going to shut his office because of the lack of patients. The teacher has always to gain and refine new knowledge because even as I speak knowledge has expanded 500,000 times and what we think we have as knowledge is only infinitesimal in relation to the knowledge that exists out there and the knowledge that is being added…"

Noting that all over the world people were adding new information and new text every single minute of the day, he underlined: "You as persons, just as the doctor or legal mind, must equip and re-equip yourself with knowledge so that you can impact on those young ones you have before you because they are bringing to the classroom some knowledge that you were never aware of. They are bringing some skills, attitudes and behaviours that when you went to school were not, in fact, present."

While pointing out that nothing was wrong with a student having more knowledge than a teacher, he noted that this was so in the case of technology and young children. "Of course, you have to take that student’s knowledge and also extend your knowledge…as the guide in the classroom," Minister Jones maintained, adding that teachers could do so through gathering more and more information and knowledge, refining it and making it more useful for both themselves and students.????

The Education Minister, himself a former teacher, stressed that there were some teachers who had become fossilised using the same notebooks from the 70s and information from that period. While pointing out that there might be nothing wrong with the information, Mr. Jones said: "But there is something wrong if you are not able to add new information and refine old information, because things are changing."

The programme dubbed the Pre-Erdiston Programme is a precursor to full-time training at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College and focuses on Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Education. While the College was complimented for "re-igniting the programme", the Education Minister emphasised that the assumption could not be made that "teachers had all of the requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to impact on the classroom of today", even if they had gone through the College’s introductory programme.

Stressing that his Ministry demanded that all teachers possessed the "core" (those subjects being taught in the programme), Mr. Jones contended: "Your content knowledge has to be high because you are going to be impacting on minds that that are like sponges; they are going to be seeking to soak up all of what you bring to them or before them."

He added that the aspect of ???Education’ was necessary to bring teachers to an understanding of how it caused a society to grow and develop, and of their importance "as facilitators of learning within the education sector of Barbados". Trainees too, were lauded and it was noted that at the completion of the course their knowledge would increase and have a greater impact on their school.

According to Deputy Principal of the Training College, Dr. Patricia Saul, the programme will, among other things, provide the content which will bolster teachers’ competence in the instruction of the core subjects. She said: "It is also envisaged that the programme will familiarise teachers with some of the major educational and psychological theories that undergird teaching and learning. When these teachers are finally able to access full-time training, it is anticipated that the emphasis will then be more on pedagogue."

Meanwhile, Principal of the College, Barbara Parris, in welcoming the students to "this segment of their professional educational sojourn", urged them to be diligent in executing their task, promising success would follow. And, she added, "I assure you that you will find this a worthwhile exercise and the ultimate benefits will redound to the children of our nation."


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