JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Programme Manager, Mutual Building Societies Foundation, Dr. Renee Rattray, is urging local educators to change their approach to teaching in order to reach the island’s most marginalised and vulnerable children.
  • Dr. Rattray noted that what is missing in many classrooms across the island is a zest for teaching, which makes students eager to learn and thrive and enjoy coming to school.
  • Dr. Rattray also informed that research has shown that the two most important contributors to high student achievement are strong school leadership and effective teaching.

Programme Manager, Mutual Building Societies Foundation, Dr. Renee Rattray, is urging local educators to change their approach to teaching in order to reach the island’s most marginalised and vulnerable children.

Dr. Rattray was addressing key stakeholders at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Activate Talks workshop at the University of West Indies, Mona, on September 29.

In her presentation, she pointed out that in spite of the fact that much has changed over the last few decades in terms of technology and learning tools, such as the tablet and computers; unfortunately many teachers are still trapped in the old way of teaching.

“I bet if you take students from a classroom in 1914 and put them in a classroom in 2014 and ask them to tell us whether they were enjoying learning in that space, I’m not so sure they would find the experience that much more engaging than what they are used to. There are now all these (gadgets) and fun things, but I’m not so sure they would be blown away by the teaching methods and that they would be learning and grasping much more than before, and that’s sad,” she added.

Dr. Rattray noted that what is missing in many classrooms across the island is a zest for teaching, which makes students eager to learn and thrive and enjoy coming to school.

“We as educators and policy makers have to start thinking outside of the box to come up with creative ways for our children to learn, based on their own unique situations,” she said.

Dr. Rattray also informed that research has shown that the two most important contributors to high student achievement are strong school leadership and effective teaching.

“And so, as I see it, school leaders are powerful people, they hold the world in their hands. If school leaders get it right and really make that joy for learning happen, then we’d be in a completely different space,” she said.

Dr. Rattray’s fervour for innovative teaching is shared by Founder of Halls of Learning, Marvin Hall, who has been using robotics and (LEGO) pieces to inspire students.

Through his ‘Lego Yuh Mind’ summer camps, Mr. Marvin has created a hands-on teaching approach, which allows students to playfully explore ideas in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

Working and communicating together, participants build 3-D models that develop valuable academic, creative and problem-solving skills.

Mr. Hall told stakeholders that the ‘Lego Yuh Mind’ initiative is quite unique in the Jamaican landscape, within the context of the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ methods that are used within the education system.

Similar work has also been done by Founder of the BREDS Treasure Beach Foundation, Jason Henzell, who has sought to instil team work and creativity in students through sports.

 

Through the BREDS programme, Mr. Henzell has implemented several sports for development initiatives for young children in rural communities in St. Elizabeth, including the UNICEF-supported ‘Colin Powell Challenge Course’, which is an outdoor development course designed for both at-risk children and potential youth leaders – the first of its kind in Jamaica.

Founder of Do Good Jamaica, Deika Morrison, has also used innovative ways to reach Jamaica’s marginalised children.

Through her Crayons Count initiative, Ms. Morrison has promoted investment in early childhood education.

The programme’s main goal has been an islandwide mobilization to provide basic learning kits in early childhood institutions.

The seminar, which was held under the theme: ‘Far from Chalk and Talk: Learning from Innovative Approaches in Education’, sought to kick start the conversation among key stakeholders on how innovation can take education to the next level to help bridge social gaps.