Our Readers' Opinions
April 8, 2022
Students need their real teachers

EDITOR: Last year I heard comments to the effect that the examination results were satisfactory. Having not gotten access to the statistics, I take the comments at face value. Despite the eruption of La Soufriere Volcano, the Pandemic, Dengue and the weather, our students performed well. The performance is not one to be glossed over and a closer look reveals that many teachers over- extended themselves, working with their students to help them achieve, despite the prevailing circumstances.

The research says that, “an individual teacher can have a powerful effect on student achievement even if the school environment is not ideal.” (Stewart, 2012) Dedicated teachers left no stones unturned to give their students the advantage. They even lobbied for and obtained an extension of the examination date. Extra classes conducted under adverse, and challenging circumstances with the constraints of the COVID-19 protocols proved useful. All that the teachers did for their students have not been seen and due credit was not given. Teachers knew that they could be effective with students of all achievement levels regardless of how they are grouped.

Students sometimes surprise me, but I have come to the realisation that those who work closely with their teachers often obtain the best results regardless of their natural ability. Education is no longer trial and error, hit or miss, but results can usually be guaranteed because of the extensive research in certain classroom instructions deployed by teachers. People outside the field sometimes take for granted the teaching profession and the knowledge and experience teachers would have gained through many years of practice. I reflect on my years of trying to learn to play the piano and making the same mistakes over and over again until I was corrected by Music Teacher, Mrs. Vincent Stewart.

In the fashion industry, no one size fits all. In teaching, teachers have to think on their feet to adapt changes to their lesson plans to meet the varying needs of their students. Similarly, in medicine, medication is prescribed for individual patients and the wholesale prescription to everyone cannot work. The attempt by persons in and out of the practice of medicine to present the COVID-19 vaccine as the necessary exclusive solution did not work. The vaccine being still in various stages of development, was only able to promise limited prevention of hospitalisation and fewer deaths to the individual. It neither prevented the contraction nor prevention of the spread of the disease. Social distancing, wearing of masks, adequate ventilation, frequent hand washing, and sanitation proved useful. Every disease usually has medication that doctors find useful for treatment, but much effort was extended in trying to breach the doctor/ patient relationship as far as prescribing of drugs the doctor consider to be useful. There was also some effort to discredit the time-honoured natural immunity that occurs when persons contract a disease. We do not know whether we have reached herd immunity. The last variant should have infected everyone and allowed most to acquire natural immunity.

It is in this context that all the teachers should be allowed back on the job. It is not too late. Teachers are miracle workers and can make corrections that will make a difference before the 2022 examinations. Mistakes in policy can be corrected now before the future of many children are marred. We may have lost many teachers permanently, but those who are still available can make a difference. The experiment of the substitute teachers is still ongoing and will, like the vaccine take years to develop fully. In the meantime, our students need a saving dose from their real teachers.

Anthony Stewart, PhD