Tele­vi­sion and ed­u­ca­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Mark Rick­etts – Pres­i­dent Barack Obama Carolyn Cooper is a con­sul­tant on cul­ture and de­vel­op­ment. Email feedback to col­umns@glean­erjm.com and karokupa@gmail.com. Mark Rick­etts, econ­o­mist, au­thor, lec­turer liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia was chief econ­o­mist of the

“We keep look­ing back­wards as if we are afraid of the fu­ture.”

TELE­VI­SION HAS been the most pow­er­ful and im­pact­ful medium over the last 60 years and it is firmly es­tab­lished as part of our cul­ture. In the US, and most likely in Ja­maica, chil­dren un­der six watch an av­er­age of two hours per day, and kids eight to 18 spend roughly four hours a day glued to the screen.

TV en­ter­tains and en­gages. Chil­dren pro­vided with qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes are more likely to have higher grades, read more books, show more cre­ativ­ity in schools than peers who are not ex­posed to such pro­gram­ming. “Even tod­dlers and in­fants watch­ing the screen are likely to en­ter kinder­garten with an in­creased vo­cab­u­lary and with over­all readi­ness skills that in­clude the abil­ity to count,” says Deb­bie McCar­son, teacher and busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tor

Where TV can be de­struc­tive is what Kaiser Foun­da­tion calls the dis­place­ment fac­tor, where TV acts as a babysit­ter for chil­dren very late at night and where kids are in­duced “to just watch TV” in­stead of study­ing or do­ing their home­work.

But McCar­son adds, “Ed­u­ca­tional and in­for­ma­tive shows can ben­e­fit stu­dents. Used as a sup­ple­ment to tra­di­tional ed­u­ca­tion, ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram­ming can ac­tu­ally boost grades.”

TVS IN THE CLASS­ROOM

If we can use TV pro­gram­ming in a struc­tured way in the class­room to let chil­dren look for­ward to com­ing to school, love learn­ing, there will likely be less of the dis­place­ment fac­tor at home at nights, as stu­dents are likely to be more in­clined to do their home­work and un­der­take stud­ies for the joy and ex­pe­ri­ence of learn­ing.

If that premise is cor­rect, let us put a good-size TV in ev­ery class­room in Ja­maica to try and turn around the abysmally low par­tic­i­pa­tion rate and per­for­mance trend.

Fast-for­ward to Septem­ber 2017, the start of the next school year. The nerve cen­tre, the New Tech­nol­ogy School Hub I re­ferred to two weeks ago, is up and run­ning. Chil­dren in class­rooms all over Ja­maica will watch their teacher turn on the TV and see colour, form, lines, graph­ics, and watch in­for­ma­tive pro­grammes.

Chil­dren will then see the job re­quire­ments and de­mands in each sec­tor and what skill sets or tal­ents he or she needs. They will also get a clear un­der­stand­ing, through hun­dreds of ac­tual ex­am­ples, what ser­vice is, means, and en­tails.

This TV pre­sen­ta­tion is not any stand up and talk pre­sen­ta­tion so chil­dren yawn

Iand twist re­flect­ing bore­dom. This is go­ing to be ac­tion, an­i­ma­tion, graph­ics, drama. It is not go­ing to be a speech on cloud en­gi­neer­ing, or how to be a neu­ro­sci­en­tist, or a care­giver, or an ap­pli­ca­tion an­a­lyst, or a soft­ware de­signer, nurse, cast­ing di­rec­tor, or an agron­o­mist.

There are hun­dreds of pro­fes­sions, trades, oc­cu­pa­tions that most chil­dren don’t have a clue about. There are thou­sands of things to build and en­gi­neer and con­ceive and de­sign. We have to bring it to them in such an ap­peal­ing and at­trac­tive man­ner that they can be fas­ci­nated and can’t wait to learn and ex­pend the ef­fort.

For that mes­sage to carry the power that is re­quired, we need a ma­jor film stu­dio in Trelawny to cap­ture count­less scenes, defin­ing and ex­tolling ser­vice and job skills, tal­ent, work, money, and en­trepreneur­ship.

Growth and de­vel­op­ment are not just about down­town Kingston de­vel­op­ment or ed­u­ca­tion or law­less­ness or crime. It is about a bold in­te­grated vi­sion to tap Ja­maica’s hu­man cap­i­tal and phys­i­cal as­sets.

TVs in the class­room will show not just films about pro­fes­sions and oc­cu­pa­tions and trades but movies as well about bril­liant and ex­cel­lent Ja­maicans.

Other things the TV will be used for in­clude fa­cil­i­tat­ing com­puter and smart­phone use, in­ter­ac­tive learn­ing, con­flict res­o­lu­tion, English as our first lan­guage and Span­ish as our sec­ond, and pro­vid­ing as well an in­sight into the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion with its dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tions.

IN­TER­AC­TIVE LEARN­ING

Giv­ing cre­dence to my po­si­tion, Henry Thomp­son, in a let­ter in re­sponse to my ar­ti­cle on tech­nol­ogy and ed­u­ca­tion re­cently, stated quite point­edly, “No phys­i­cal li­brary has the in­for­ma­tion ca­pac­ity of the small­est cell phone – now is the fu­ture, not to­mor­row. In­ter­ac­tive learn­ing and in­stant ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion are the or­der of the day. Let the stu­dents play while they learn. That way we teach them to un­der­stand in­stead of mem­o­rise.”

It’s the same prin­ci­ple in learn­ing a lan­guage.

“We need to join the ed­u­ca­tion su­per­high­way or get left be­hind in the to­tal dark­ness of knowl­edge. As the Chi­nese adage says, what I read I for­get. What I see I re­mem­ber. What I do I un­der­stand.”

In­ci­den­tally, Thomp­son is hop­ing to use his own money to es­tab­lish Wi-Fi at his alma mater.

The tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion, the gen­er­a­tion of stu­dents find­ing learn­ing in­ter­est­ing, can hap­pen, and must hap­pen. We can­not per­sist with the ex­ist­ing per­for­mance trends in ed­u­ca­tion.

I

GUEST COLUM­NIST

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