Literacy an Anchor for Sustainable Development (Part 2)

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Enough emphasis cannot be placed on the importance of literacy and why it is essential for sustainable development. Literacy through sustainable development is such a powerful force it holds the keys to life and death in its hands. One can therefore boldly state that a literate society can actually eradicate premature deaths. This statement is agreed with by Director of UNESCO Irina Bokova who actually states that “literacy not only changes lives, it saves them,” How is this evidenced? It is believed that if women receive primary education, then child mortality rate would be reduced by a sixth and maternal deaths would also decrease by two-thirds, hence, sustaining life. Literacy is not only important for death prevention it is essential for the promotion of good health. Why is this so? Literate females are also known to have fewer and healthier children, healthier children equates to a healthier society and by extension a healthier world.  

Sustainable development through the vehicle of literacy as documented by the United Nations (2005) report recognizes, that literacy education is an essential vehicle for poverty reduction, increasing employment opportunities, moving forward gender equality, improving family health and protecting the environment. Literacy education can undoubtedly pave the way for advancement in any nation. With this advancement how can the aspect of sustainable development be reviewed from local perspectives? How can we as a country embody the tools of education for sustainable development through literacy? This must be done through purposeful determination through assessing local needs as a nation. We as a nation could begin the conversation by focusing on community development and environmental protection.

Why is education for sustainable development from an environmentalist perspective important? Jamaica is known to be a major supporter of the bauxite and tourism industries and as such these contributions also pressure the fragile ecosystems and also contribute to pollution and deforestation. Population growth and resulting problems of unemployment which is accompanied by social problems such as crime and lack of sanitation are issues that the island has to deal with. The island is also prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes which can be sources of great destruction. Jamaicans can wrestle these epidemics by implementing education that goes beyond knowledge about the environment to education aimed at fostering individuals, skills and attitudes that will lead to committed action to care for the environment, and contribute to a sustainable future.

With all of this being said it is obvious that improving literacy through education for sustainable development is the foundation for improving a nation’s capabilities, economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

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Cultures and Schools

Each school is governed by visible and invisible principles that are practiced by the individuals who are associated with it. Practices of a particular school may be administered by what is commonly known as a curriculum. The principle of the curriculum may be looked at in two aspects the written curriculum and the hidden curriculum, these maybe viewed as the driving forces that govern the actions of that institution. The concept that will be discussed during the duration of this paper is similar to the concept of the hidden and written curriculum. This phenomenon maybe referred to as school culture. What is it and how might this be effective in helping to shape schools? “School culture is the set of norms, values and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, symbols and stories that make up the ‘persona’ of the school,” (Deal & Peterson, 1998 ).

Culture is the conscious awareness of everyday life in schools where the underground flow of feelings, ideas and unstated purposes of persons gives way for beliefs and assumptions that give meaning to what people say and do. It consists of the stable underlying social meanings that shape beliefs and behavior over time (Deal & Peterson, 2001). Each school is governed by a set of principles and laws these values and norms maybe projected by the ways in which members of an organization speak; act or proceed with the day to day actions. They may be likened to an iceberg that has only its tip that is being projected from beneath waters. Though the tip of the iceberg is visible 91% is beneath the water. This hypothetical iceberg maybe referred to as the school culture. (Deal & Peterson, 2016, p.25) highlights the concept of culture that maybe relatable to the concept of the iceberg “Beneath the conscious awareness of everyday life in schools, there is a burbling rivulet of thought and activity.  The underground flow of feelings and folkways wends its way, beckoning people, programmes, and ideas toward often unstated purpose”, hence, the culture that governs a school maybe significantly deep rooted, they may not be visibly present to the onlooker, however, they are deeply embedded within the roots of the culture and this undoubtedly shapes the way in which the staff, students and parents react to the institution.

Stakeholder Engagement and School Success

 

When we think of the journey towards success it is often said that it begins with a single step. It must be noted that single step towards success must be a very purposeful action where the individual is determined to embark upon a successful outcome. As it relates to school management how can one take the first step to ensure that success is achieved and maintained? One such way in which we can ensure that this success is achieved and maintained is through the engagement of stakeholders in school. One way in which we can maintain success is through parental involvement. This may take form in one of three ways parent training, parent support and parent involvement.

 

Research has shown that parental involvement is lacking in schools in the inner city and as such this has affected the operations of many schools in this capacity. How can school managers aid in school development through the engagement of these very important stakeholders? This maybe be done by training these parents to become good parents. These training sessions may take the avenue of how to become In this Parent training1.  How to be a good parent; how to promote the importance of education to your child; how to talk to your child about important issues. Parent support2.  In terms of the school’s homework practices and the child’s homework efforts (including student independent reading outside of school). Parent volunteering3.  Ranging from volunteering in the classroom to helping out with social activities at school (e.g., class parties, school carnivals, field trips,) or with fundraising activities.

 

While all of these activities can enhance the academic or social dimensions of a child’s school experience and extend what the school can provide, most parent involvement activities remain at a distance from the heart of the elementary school’s mission—to impart basic skills and foundational knowledge in preparation for the more advanced learning required in middle school, high school and beyond. The gatekeepers this type of parent involvement, of course, and those who determine its form and extent are the school staff. It is incumbent upon educators to engage parents and community members in ways that are aligned with critical outcomes and go deeper to impact school outcomes at scale. Let’s examine how some educators are reaching out to stakeholders to support the school’s mission and to empower school improvement.

 

The process of engaging stakeholders may take place with five important steps. The first step is to identifying and having key objectives for them to achieve as a part of the process. The second step is to analyze. In this step you analyze who they are the resources that are available to assist them with the helping process. The third step is to implement a plan. This plan will show how and what the engagement will be like as well as the mode of communication. The fourth step will be simply putting the plan in action. When putting the plan in action there is a process of reaction that must take place. We must respond to what we hear and learn from these stakeholders. The final stage is to review the steps that have been implemented. It employs revision analysis and employment of the processes in an attempt to maximize success.

Stakeholder interaction is necessary and achievable.

 

Physical Education a Key to Nation Building

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Taken from the Cricket Monthly

“Our health is our wealth” is a popular sentiment echoed throughout the medical fraternity. If this statement is true then Jamaicans are wallowing in poverty, our culture of physical inactivity has certainly caught up with us. According to Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton 60% of Jamaican deaths are as a result of Non-Communicable Diseases ((Tuffton, 2017). It is therefore imperative that physical education be compulsory throughout Jamaica’s secondary school system because physical education lays the foundations for our nation’s youth to be physically and cognitively fit for life.

Jamaica’s culture of immobility is so pungent that it requires a collaborative and combative approach to curtail. This thrust should be led by the Ministry of Education (MOE) because after all the children are our future and how we train them today will determine their tomorrow.  Currently as directed by the MOE Physical education is only offered up to third from and even then it is optional (Education, 2000). This is preposterous! In his contribution to the 2017 Budget debate prime Minster Andrew Holness stated that over “50% of Jamaicans are overweight” (Holness, 2017)  in 2014 then acting chief medical officer Kevin Harvey stated that “80% of women in Jamaica are overweight” (Campbell, 2014) these are alarming figures and points to and epidemic within our borders. Armed with these fact prime minster Holness challenged the nation to engage in rigorous physical activites for at least twenty (20) minutes two to three times weekly (Holness, 2017). Why is such an onus not enacted upon our school? It has been proven time and time again, physical education will aid in the development and strengthening of the; cardiovascular system, repertory system, It helps keep arteries and veins clear. It reduces blood sugar levels. It controls weight. It helps prevent cancer. It improves energy levels. It enhances emotional well-being (Staff, 2016). The world health organization recommends that children between the ages of 5-17 engage in physical activity for 60 minutes per day. Currently P.E. is offered between 60-80 minutes per week  (Global Strategy on Diet, 2017). Is it too difficult to suggest making P.E. Mandatory across all age levels within high school? In light of this current epidemic I would suggest to you that aborting Physical education at the grade 9 level is negatively impacting our country.

                                                            Misguided Perceptions

 There are many students, teachers, parents and even some at the policy level who view physical education  as a categorical waste of student’s time and the country’s scarce resources and therefore should be optional in secondary schools; this is because many students view P.E. sessions as time to play or a session to abscond. many are of the impression that not much learning takes place in P.E. session, as a matter of fact the teachers does not follow the curriculum and important lessons about hygiene, nutrition, weight control and physical fitness are never taught and in effect results in taxpayer’s precious dollars being wasted for supervised play. some are of  the view that Physical Education can also be a humiliating and dangerous activity for students, this is because during puberty the body changes rapidly resulting in many children being uncomfortable in their own skin, even to the point of becoming suicidal (Arack, 2005). Imagine having a student with image and self-esteem issues constantly being the subject of practical jokes each time they have to change for P.E classes. What does that do for that child’s self-esteem? What if that child is suicidal?   Then there are those students who are just not athletic and have no interest in sport conversely there are those who are very athletic. Now, is it right to have somebody who takes sport seriously playing against somebody who just doesn’t have a natural sporting talent? How would those non athletic students feel and when they constantly lose and are forced to engage in something they simply don’t have a talent for.

The Reality

Irrespective of these views Physical education should be mandatory across all age groups throughout secondary education; it is irresponsible to suggest that an integral component necessary for nation building should abandoned because of truancy and it is criminal to suggest that no learning is taking place in P.E. sessions; this is because P.E teaches the requisite interactions necessary for the development of good body coordination, team building and weight management  (Education, 2000) these are lessons which are integral for teen development and while the athletic capabilities of teens vary, it must be noted that the P.E. curriculum is not hinged on physical activities or its educational component solely; there is the cognitive and social aspect that must not be overlooked, and with our society becoming more antisocial the value of P.E. becomes even more important. 

 

 

Literacy an Anchor for Education for Sustainable Development (Part 1)

 

Education for sustainable development is very important because it is paramount for a complete change in the global paradigm of education and societal development. Education for sustainability is separate and apart from education itself, this is because education encourages individualism, the unsustainable lifestyles, and consumption patterns whether directly or by default. Education for Sustainable Development on the other hand is concerned with the development of future social needs. ESD is scheduled to be a paradigm shift in curricula development that will ultimately make life for humans better due to the enhancement of future social necessity or enhancement (Fernández-Sánchez, Bernaldo,  Castillejo & Manzanero, 2014).

Education for sustainable development is the main ingredient needed for the revolution of countries and the world by extension. The Sustainable Development Education Network defines ESD as “the process of acquiring the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to build local and global societies that are just, equitable, and living within environmental limits of our planet, both now and in the future (Fernández-Sánchez, Bernaldo,  Castillejo & Manzanero, 2014).

The development of a literate society is a pre-requisite for the emergence of a knowledge economy. The absence of massive investment in and promotion of literacy education and sustainable development goals (SDGs) will bereft citizens of liberation, engagement, experiential values, evidential consequences and empowerment in social change. This is evidenced by the fact that there is a causal correlation that subsists between literacy education, emergence of knowledge economy and sustainable development (Oghenekohwo & Frank-Oputu, 2017).

Research has shown that literacy is a basic context for facilitating citizens’ values through attitudinal change for the acquisition of vocational or functional skills and operational knowledge that is beneficial to individuals while enhancing the collective drive for a literate society. Literacy education is instrumental in the reduction of vulnerability and increase in sustainability development. The resultant outcomes through this venture if successful within schools will be a knowledge driven economy which is essential for the attainment of the sustainable development goals (Oghenekohwo & Frank-Oputu, 2017). Without prejudice the right to literacy is the universal declaration of human rights.

Locus of Control and Self-Efficacy – Psychological Factors for Classroom Management

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Photo by thinkstockphotos.com

A class room teacher provides many functions in the daily lives of students, they oversee their physiological, psychological, emotional and educational development,  however , one impediment to a class room teachers effective functioning is Locus of control. This is because locus of control refers to one’s belief in their own ability to affect change in their present circumstance.

As humans we each possess drives that govern our actions, these drives may determine ones successes and failures. Locus of control may be viewed as ones internal compasses that dictates their paths both individually and collectively, hence, it is a psychological factor which heavily affects one’s motivation. Locus of control determines how we view success and failure. One who possesses an internal locus of control will readily depend on their own efforts for their success while on the other hand people with an external locus of control will readily believe that luck or fate play major role in their success (Ghonsooly & Razvani, 2008).

Locus of Control plays a significant role in classroom management and teacher development, it is noted that teachers’ professional development is as a direct result of their willingness to assume responsibility for the delivery of materials, facilitation and monitoring of their classrooms (Ghonsooly & Razvani, 2008). Teachers with an internal locus of control believe that they are in control of their environs and whilst they may experience negative outcomes they experience less negative reactions because of their ability to think that they can change their environment (Rydell & Henricsson, 2004).

As it relates to classroom control, internal locus of control and self-efficacy are key factors that are fundamental for success. (Woolfolk, 2010, p, 350) defines self-efficacy as “people’s belief about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affects their lives”. (Griffin, 2003, p,3) noted that “As compared to instructional self-efficacy, locus of control specifically addresses teachers’ mindset regarding the scope of what they believe they are able to influence as a teacher” Teachers with an external locus of control believe that negative things that are happening inside of their classrooms are out of their control, while teachers with an internal locus of control believe that they can be the agents of change within their learning environment (Lunenburg & Cadavid, 1992).

The theory of self-efficacy forecast that teachers with a high sense of efficacy work harder and persevere  longer even when students are difficult to teach, this is because these teachers believe in themselves and in their students. Hence, teachers who possess strong self-efficacy are less likely to be affected by negative reactions in their classrooms and are less affected by negative psychological reactions (Woolfolk, 2010). An intentional teacher with a strong belief in his or her efficacy will exhibit more resilience and persist through obstacles. Through the art of reflection,  the teacher with efficacy is also better able to assess the results of his or her instructions in order to get greater results during lesson delivery.  Self-efficacy is associated with teacher academic performance, beliefs,  job commitment and willingness to try new methods for teaching. Teachers who possess low efficacy exhibit a more custodial approach to teaching, they feel angered and threatened by misbehavior and provide frequent reports of difficulty in keeping students on task (Mojavezi & Tamiz, 2012).

Teacher efficacy is an important phenomenon within the classroom and maybe directly related to student motivation. According to Garner’s theory of motivation students will be more motivated to learn and achieve better grades when they know that their teachers care about them. Teachers who are described as being more caring employ democratic interaction styles, they display positive attitude towards their own work and provide constructive feedback (Mojavezi & Tamiz, 2012).

Locus of control and self-efficacy are powerful tools for class room and student transformation.