Barrouallie: Tales of different eras
March 1, 2013
Some challenges and more…

Schoolchildren long ago respected their headteachers and teachers. I remember the days when some travelled from Barrouallie aboard Mr Robertson’s (Bully R) van and sat silently while the adults chatted. They adhered to the adage “children must be seen and not heard”. At that time, the passengers on board that particular van were teachers who commuted to and from Barrouallie to Kingstown, then on to the Teachers’ College at Arnos Vale. The children who travelled with them did not behave unseemly and their language was certainly not foul!{{more}}

Of course, back in the early 1900s, a lack of transportation was one of the biggest challenges faced by people in this area. Hence, those born around that time had to be satisfied with a primary education…full-stop. Apart from “old school” in the early eras, there was no other primary school in Barrouallie for them to advance educationally and, many of these folks were too far away from Glen School.

For those of us who travelled to the “city” for schooling in my era, we thank God for the wooden buses which plied this route in those days. In my time therefore, our options were: “Justice”, with Sonny Browne at its helm, “Brian B”, steered by “Fatman”, Bully R’s van and later on “Bonto”, which was controlled by Mr Doyle and, for those coming in from Layou in the 70s to attend “new school” (the Barrouallie Secondary School) Mr Young’s bus was the transportation of choice….coming out of North Leeward too, was Mr Bowman’s bus with “Parpa Joe”, that capable, kind driver in control. As we commuted daily, the journey into Kingstown seemed long and the buses appeared to be moving slowly, but our drivers respected the lives of their passengers…Thus we did not have to contend with “breakneck speeds”, screeching tyres or overtaking around corners … Neither were our beings permeated by the type of music and very often songs which contain lewd lyrical content, as happens today…

In this modern day era, I see some children who appear to be going nowhere, although they are already late for school. Unlike long ago, their choices today are many, yet some are always late because they “pick and choose” vans. Many of them are often seen at odd hours of the morning and late evening comfortably seated at the bus terminal or just standing idly at the roadsides, while vans “come and go”. I thank God for those parents who still maintain deadlines when their children should be at school and home….This brings me to a modern day story….

One Friday afternoon, a group of children from one of the secondary schools in these parts boarded the mini van in which I was a passenger. As they chatted above everyone and everything else, one could hear their plans. At that hour, they had made a decision to go into the “city” to “lime” One of the male youngsters in the group quietly told them that he was not going. The others laughed at him. “Yo cyar go”, they taunted him….He maintained his position and exited the van at Chauncey. I concluded that he was one of those youths who, despite the worldly distractions, made the choice to remain focused, or secondly he “knew” the parent (s) he had. He knew what was expected of him; either way I silently gave a “thumbs up” to that parent or parents and to the young man.

Anyway, let’s get back to old times. Back in the early days, uniforms were non-existent. In that era, here in Barrouallie, there was no mistaking which school the children attended, as there was one primary school at the time. They wore what they had. What about selected texts? Well, that is another story; for many it was just their copy book, slates and pencils.

Many of the elderly folk here remember their “technological age” consisted of slates for writing and beads for counting; abacuses were used for mathematical operations and quite a lot of us learnt by rote for subject areas, such as tables. Did learning take place? Of course, it did; we had to “think on our feet” and we made use of the community libraries or the “old Public Library” in Kingstown. I wonder how many utilize the modern public library which we now have.

Today, we are in the “technological era” where netbooks, laptops, and Kindle Fires are readily available. In this era, we are in a “copy and paste” world where critical thinking is fast going out of the window and we are becoming a generation which is too dependent on these modern day gadgets…Well, this is modern times, I guess!!

Anyway, let us rest our case here and get out of the classrooms for a change of pace. We may return to this sub-theme at a later date, as my intent is to highlight individual members of this community who are still here and who have made contributions to the field of education and other areas. So …until; I’ll catch you next week by the will of God.