Thursday, January 31, 2008

Voices of Children

I have spent the last three years trying to understand the reasons for school violence and why students bring weapons to school. I spoke with many students back home, in Dominica who get into trouble and the stories they give about being mistreated by students and teachers are overwhelming. Students described how they were ridiculed in class; in the presence of their peers. They spoke about the many complaints they lodged to teachers, principals for which nothing was done and how their side of the stories are never heard when they get into trouble especially where they are repeat offenders. Thy feel an overwhelming need to protect themselves. Many of them are afraid to let their teachers know how they feel about those things. They believe they will use that against them. And whenever, I attempt to discuss my finding with my teacher colleagues, they become defensive and respond with denial or blame the kids and their parents. I wonder, if teachers know and understand how important they are in the lives of their students.

I got to speaking with my advisor about it a few days ago and we struct a conversation that surrounded the "place, status and voice" of the child in school and communities, the perception we hold about children and the many things we do to let children know their "places". Someone said, "We spend two years teaching our children to speak and the rest of their lives asking them to shut up."

Recently, we conducted an OECS study on school disciplinary issues and we asked teachers how many of them would use a loving and caring relationship to deal with student disciplinary problems and only 8% said they would. It confirmed what I always knew. It can be a cold world for many children.

I need to hear your stories or comments about your life at school, especially if you had a tough time there. Understanding this issue would help us deal with an a potential emergency in education: school violence

Please share your stories and blog on

See you online

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Journeys at Pitt - GINIE

Besides, reading and writing and reading and writing and a few subs here and there, Tarun and I are developing a Global Information Network In Education - Part 2 to be housed in the School of Ed. Got it! GINIE (This one is out, Kristina). We are pulling together information, links etc, on the thematic areas of education including Emergencies in Education, for all those who need info on education. We are also setting up a help desk for those who want up-to-date info or how to access such info. We are hoping to tie this into wireless/mobile technology so you can reach us wherever we are in the world - Skype like. We are hoping to be able to give important info on Emergencies in Education particularly as these emergencies unfold to keep students, teachers and administrator safe. After all school are places of mass occupancy. Kool for a 40+ old guy. Wait till my 14 year old son hears this. I'll be the Koolest dad. Oh and we are also using GIS/GPS technology to get you right on the spot- a google-earth like thing. After all this is Pittsburgh - "Knowledge City" Ask President Bush. Did somebody say Boston or Los Angeles? Nah. Pitt is where it's at.

Journeys at Pitt

Well, here I am at 40+ starting a PhD and blogging. You did not really expect me to give you the real figure, huh. I am many miles away from home too and left behind a wife and three children and that is the part that is really tough and it's not like it is the first time. Actually this is the fourth time so they are the reason, I always go back home. I love them and I miss them so badly, it hurts- two daughters and a son. I cannot say this is the last. It's my field. I am in education - I am a teacher by morphology but work these days as a education policy analyst, planner, speechwriter and advisor and everything in between - life on a small island state -sunshine, beaches - well not too many where I am from and mostly black sand - volcanic, got it - atypical for a Caribbean destination, vegetation to die for, waterfalls and an underwater world that is ranked among the best in the world, therefore I have to be multifaceted and multi tasked. Its actually 20 degrees where I am right now- a shocker, given my Caribbean origin but I chose this and there is a price to be paid.

There are no universities back there offering my area and you know the price of higher ed. and so I have to follow the $$$ - scholarships, fellowships or whatever they call it these days.

Which leads me to why I am here - Emergencies in Education - natural disasters (Katrina, remember), Man-made disasters (chronic poverty), Schools as safe places, Violence in schools. School was what pulled me out from where I was and what statistics said I should have become. I want to work to make sure that we can preserve it for generations to come.

Education changes a life and its direction like few things can. So this is why I leave my family but I call them every day and I speak to each one most everyday and our 8 year old said, "We talk with you every day. It's like you are still here." Well, I know you are thinking it's not the same. At least, give a guy some points for trying. I miss them and its tough but we have to do what we have to do. I love them and I love education too. After all "A mind is a terrible thing to make."

Now you know where I am coming from.