Our classroom environment is painted with diversity. This fusion of characteristics adds intrigue to the teaching-learning experience, as it instills in both teacher and learner an appreciation of and respect for the existing diverse language backgrounds, home environment, gender, culture, cognitive abilities, and learning styles—all of which influence a child’s academic development.
Our role as teachers in optimizing this development is therefore crucial, in light of our academically diverse classrooms . . . Hellooooo! Am I for real? In which world will this ever be applied? With our educated leaders more interested in taking credit for and basking in the glory of our students’ success, certainly not in our education system where only the elite are recognized!
Do they regard this poignant information as mere theoretical crappola? Media exposure for the top scorers at the Common Entrance and CSEC Examinations, special ceremonies to honor the achievers of first-class honors at the tertiary level institutions. But for the rest of us? Uhyien! Consequently, our meritocratic and punitive mentality may never be eradicated!
What does this say to those of us who toil equally, but just don’t cut it, since after all the system is designed to maintain stratification? It sends the message that doing one’s best simply isn’t good enough. At any rate, not worthy of celebration.
Now, let’s not get defensive. Not just yet! Don’t misconstrue the point here. Students who have excelled when excellence is measured do deserve to be appreciated and highlighted. Definitely! But so do students who persevered and crossed the finish line, also demonstrating excellence, irrespective of their positions. Showering praise, support, acknowledgement of every child, demonstrates we care and believe in their capabilities. Do you believe there are children who do not want to excel? Do you know of a normally developing student who cannot excel?
Educators, we know otherwise. We studied otherwise. Let’s use the instruction we received, the letters of honour attached to our names, to construct a society of winners with positive mental attitudes, as opposed to individuals who are de-motivated and disgruntled because they are continuously ignored despite their efforts.
As educational practitioners, we must recognize we have no control over the diversity in our education system, given the differences in individuals. There is, as a result, the need for equality, freedom, and justice, to be embedded in our practice, in order to promote our students’ appreciation for, and value of their unique abilities, and their uninhibited self-expression. All is not lost, though. In our classrooms we do have the power to build our students, while preparing them for the unfortunate reality of the system.