Newsletter 26 "What needs to be done"

At the heart of our quest for high school performance is the psyche of the poor which represents more than 75% of our school population in South Africa. This is a summary of an article I wrote in 2008.

As a defense mechanism amongst the poor you have the separation of heart and mind. This is inevitable in a psyche that on a daily and continued basis have to deal with survival and “lower order matters” (basic needs) such as finding food, a roof, social and emotional security. Such a psyche does not have the luxury of time to develop “higher order matters” of love, emotion, care, the importance of the group, regard, respect and honesty. To a mind in survival mode these higher order luxury is crowded out for self-preservation and survival. This is a necessary defense mechanism. To repair this separation between heart and mind is a very long journey.

I have stated repeatedly that our schooling system and in particular the curriculum, present and past has been and is inappropriate. The many assumptions made or implied by our new curriculum is a reality not in congruence with the reality in Manenberg, Heideveld, Vanguard, Surrey and Hanover Park … this reality militates against these assumption making the curriculum inappropriate.

When I close my eyes and dream of an appropriate schooling system I see; A school which start at eight (8h00) in the morning, The learners first get fed, They (the learners and their teacher) celebrate life and happiness by singing, hugging and sharing mutual love and respect, The learners then pledge solidarity and patriotism to each other, their school and their society, The learning and teaching continues with formal curriculum delivery by nine (9h00) until two (14h00), Before they depart for home the teachers capture the imagination of our learners with stories (many-many stories).

I hope some of you share some of my dreams.

“I met an alien from planet X who travelled to earth from billions of kilometers away and ask the question to this wise person, “What can we do to heal ourselves and planet earth?” I was not prepared for the simplicity of this wise answer, “have you tried hugging each other more and sing more!”

The purpose of schooling is simply “to capture the imagination of learners”, teach them to read and write, science and mathematics, astonish their minds, make them love and thirst for knowledge, show them the limitation of their potential, the world, the moon, the stars, other worlds….play with it, nurture it and also demonstrate its potential for mutual love, respect and caring. 

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