Saturday, March 13, 2010

Educational Priorities

So I just started listening to the Planet Money podcast from NPR, which I am tempted already to recommend to everybody. One of the pieces I've started to listen to is about the educational systems in Jamaica and Barbados, and how that system is tied to the countries' per capita GDP. I haven't gotten to Barbados yet, but the situation in Jamaica is pretty dire. Nevertheless...
"You're doing so much with the resources that you have. Do you think, 'if I had more resources, there's all these things that I would do?' What would you do?"

"I'd purchase instruments for the students to use! How can you teach music and then there are no instruments for them to do the practice on?"

This is an exchange between the interviewer for Planet Money and the principal of a small elementary school in Jamaica whose financial situation is so desperate that one teacher not only purchased the whiteboard for his classroom out of pocket, but actually had to build it himself from plywood and formica rather than buying a pre-made one. The standardized test situation in Jamaica is even more crushing than in the US, with one test at age 10 determining much of your future economic status, and what does this amazingly intelligent, dedicated, wonderful principal offer as her first, immediate, "duh" response? Musical instruments. That's what her students need. Second on her list? A reading teacher for every classroom.

Food for thought.

1 comment:

Al said...

Sam! I am so in love with Planet Money. I started listening in 2008 when they started and I haven't missed an episode. I would highly recommend going back and listening to past shows. They have the awkwardly fortunate position of having only been at it since just before the recession began, so if you go back to, say, September or October 2008, you can hear their predictions and the news & indicators for those times. Except you're from the future, so you know more and it's cool. That's all.