Nurturing talent of all kids
JOHN Godsiff (Weekend Argus, December 12) writes an interesting letter about the problems in education.
He says its root cause precedes schooling.
Variation in the genetic endowment of children is critical to success, as is the quality of parenting, he says.
Once in school, good teachers returning to old school basics like reading, writing and arithmetic should be the norm. There must be a special focus on girls, to ensure that an unwanted pregnancy does not ruin their lives.
Finally, schools must have the ability to curtail outside influences that undermine the integrity of good education.
The Democratic Alliance is in agreement with Godsiff ’s points.
But we would like to amplify one point that could easily be misunderstood, which is the relationship between genetic endowment, educational opportunities and justice.
It is demonstrably true that there are differences in brainpower between one individual and another.
This is an asset and should be recognised as such. Sometimes differences in brain power result in some of us being smarter than others and the alert teacher is usually able to recognise this reality in the classroom.
Please remember that inequality in “smartness” is a cultural construct based on genetic endowment.
The point to be drawn from this is that a school system must be able to provide opportunities for the various talents of all children.
It is a matter of justice. Every child ought to have the opportunity to benefit from the public benefit of schooling because it is its right, as much as it is our moral obligation to provide it.
In policy terms it means our public resources must be spent in a manner that benefits the child.
It is the Democratic Alliance’s view that the ANC-led government has not supplied resources in a manner that benefits the child.
The child should have well-trained, disciplined and supported teachers in class, teaching in ably administered and well-led schools using modern technologies and teaching assets that focus on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.
The ANC has misspent money on ministries, administration and all manner of misguided projects – sometimes in cahoots with the trade unions – all of which have nothing to do with the school-going child.
Still, there is a renewed commitment to improve education and God- siff ought to recognise that politicians and administrators only have control over the school system and not over parents.
We can but appeal to parents to do their bit.
Some parents have great difficulty in doing so because they have constraints.
In my constituency, Mitchells Plain, many committed parents both have to work and return home very late every day, too tired to spend time with their children.
In working class and impoverished areas, therefore, we ought to provide facilities for children to be cared for after schooling.
Finally, I cannot agree more with Godsiff that we must look after our girls and stop the epidemic of teenage pregnancies that ruin so many lives.
EDUCATION CALL: The system must be able to provide opportunities for the various talents of all children, says the DA’s Wilmot James.