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Parents ‘to blame’ for pressuring children

Some parents whose children sat today’s Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination (BSSEE) have admitted that sometimes parents must be blamed for students going into the examination rooms feeling pressured.

Speaking at a lecture on Sunday night, Queen’s College principal David Browne accused some parents, teachers, the education system and even the media of putting too much pressure on children to perform in the Common Entrance Exam.

Browne called for an end to parents’ “lessonmania” and harassment of education officials to get their children in specific schools, teachers pushing gifted children and schools seeking to get into the spotlight, which now accompanies the annual 11-Plus Exam.

Peter Douglas, a father who admitted that parents contributed to putting pressure on their children, explained that two weeks prior to the examination, he took his foot off the pedals and allowed his son to relax after he showed signs of nervousness.

“We pushed him with the lessons and everything early up; then we just let the process run. When he went in this morning he was calm and good,” said Douglas.

Rochelle Wiltshire said all she did to prepare her son was to ensure he attended extra lessons from the time he entered Class 3 and encouraged him to approach the national examination in a relaxed mode.

However, Wiltshire said this morning, as the students entered the gates, she noticed that parents appeared to be more stressed than their charges who were going to sit the examination.

“From how some of the parents were behaving, I got the impression that they were the ones doing the exam. That is the impression that I got,” Wiltshire commented.

She added: “Coming on close to the examination I asked my son if he was ready and he said yes he was. I am confident. Wherever he goes I will accept because that is where God wants him to go. Where ever you go everybody doing the same school work.”

Meanwhile, Wayne Carrington indicated that making promises to children to take them to places and give them material things was not the way to go “because they would not put their best foot forward for themselves but to get what they were promised”.

“Don’t pressure the kids, because if you got the kids under pressure, they can’t do it properly. They would be more studying the parents and the game them get promised. Just let them do them thing and if you decide you going to treat them, you treat them,” Carrington said.

One parent, who requested anonymity, said that leading up to this day, she did not do anything extra that would have caused her child to notice that something big was happening.

She said that it was important parents noted that preparations for the examination started from around Class 1, and not months before the exam.

“I really thought I would have been nervous now, but the truth is I ain’t nervous because I know that I did all I could do up to a point, and I didn’t wait until the last minute and then be rushing. It is just about letting the children relax and do what they normally do because any change in their environment or routine going to cause them to be stressed out,” the mother said.

According to Grace Lawrence, pressuring children would only make them nervous; so the best thing to do was to advise them to trust in God who would give them knowledge, wisdom and understanding and everything would fall into place.

“It is not the school where you go, it is what you do to learn when you go to your school. A lot of the ministers did not go to high school, but look at how them turn out. This thing about pressuring children makes no sense,” Lawrence noted.


2 Responses to Parents ‘to blame’ for pressuring children

  1. Olutoye Walrond May 7, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Not only parents; the news media play a major role in promoting the hysteria. When we read or hear news reports talking about “the big day”; when we see interviews with parents and children talking about how well they did and how nervous they were, the hysteria is being perpetuated.

    I still can’t get anyone to explain to me why a whole country should be obsessed with 11 year-olds taking a test to determine which school they will attend. I can’t get anyone to explain to me why people have to pray for these children before the test.

    There is something to all of this that is not being articulated.

  2. Glyne Griffith May 7, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Blaming parents for being nervous and for pressuring their children regarding the so-called 11-Plus Exam is akin to blaming any reasonable person for being afraid, and for passing on that fear to their family, if you threatened that individual and his or her family with grievous harm. Any reasonable person under those circumstances would very likely respond similarly.

    Parents, guardians and all the children understand quite clearly that what the maintenance of such an exam does is determine a person’s ‘life chances’ at the age of 10 or 11 years old. That is essentially what this exam does, as it has done for decades now. Another path must be found not only for the sake of the current cohort of parents and children, but also for the sake of education in Barbados.

    It is folly to basically determine the future educational path of someone when he or she is 11 years old. When will we admit this truth? When will we scrap the 11-Plus Exam and acknowledge that it is a socially retrograde relic that needs to be reunited with the past from when it came? Get rid of it.


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