Common sense could end this ‘wrapper’ war

The Italian Marxist theoretician and politician Antonio Gramsci, who had been jailed by the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini, wrote in one of his many prison notebooks: “Common sense is a chaotic aggregate of disparate conceptions, and one can find there anything that one like[s].”

It would seem that Gramsci was looking into the future and seeing Springer Memorial School. Except, it would seem, common sense has taken a long holiday in the ongoing “wrapper controversy”.

It has been eight weeks since a 14-year-old student has been barred from attending classes at the Government Hill learning institution. Her sole transgression was her refusal to pick up a wrapper when ordered to by a teacher, making it clear that her mother had not sent her to school to pick up garbage.

We do not know what sort of attitude the teenager adopted in her response, but let us for a moment imagine the worst-case scenario and say that she was rude. But hasn’t she been punished enough?

How did such a simple issue escalate into such an ugly tragedy? Why can’t intelligent adults put aside their intransigence, settle the matter and have the child back in class?

After all, while the school and the mother stand their ground and the Ministry of Education seems impotent, a 14-year-old is being deprived of her right to an education.

Amid the chaos and disparate notions, common sense is lost after all, and all sides are finding anything they like from the situation, which has degenerated into a circus without a ringleader.

We are not attempting to point fingers, but reason must prevail. Having suspended the child for a week, it was unreasonable for the school to demand that she must pick up litter for which she was not responsible, before being allowed back. The child was punished. Get on with it!

Schools are about learning, not irrational punishment; and teaching must be Springer’s primary concern.

What lessons was the school teaching the children in its care? Was Springer telegraphing to the students that it did not matter whether or not a transgressor served time for wrongdoing, he/she ought not to be forgiven and must face continuous punishment?

If the school wanted to teach the students a lesson about cleanliness, upon seeing the wrapper, the teacher at the genesis of this cruel charade would have picked it up, deposited in the refuse bin, then proceed to share a lesson or two with the students present about keeping their surroundings clean and pride in their school.

Would this not have been a much better lesson? And let us not forget that the child being punished was not the one who allegedly left the wrapper on the ground.

Instead, what we see is a level of intransigence that has resulted in much scratching of heads.

Parental advisor Shelley Ross has described this attitude as an abuse of power.

The child’s mother is not without blemish either. She has repeatedly complained that her daughter is suffering, both academically and psychologically. She could have ended this a long time ago by explaining to her daughter that she was right to refuse to pick up the wrapper, but that it would make her no less of a person if she made the point but proceeded to pick it up anyway. Instead, she will not give an inch.

Sadly, the Ministry of Education allowed this situation to get out of hand.
Just last week, Minister of Education Ronald Jones called for cooler heads to prevail. Mr Jones and his team at the ministry had a responsibility to resolve this matter in an amicable manner.

The arbitrary attempts to transfer the child, first to Daryll Jordan Secondary School and later, to Ellerslie Secondary School, has left much to be desired.
The child’s mother has asked for meetings with the ministry. That she has yet to be heard is unfortunate and shameful.

She has asked for a say in where her daughter will be transferred to, but has apparently been told by the lack of a response to get lost. Clearly, neither the school nor the ministry heard the minister’s plea, and Mr Jones neglected to take his own advice.

In Gramsci’s Prison Notebook, he also wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

In this crisis, the morbid symptoms have appeared in the muscle flexing by the school, the demonstration of power by the ministry and the lack of tack displayed by the mother. They all may feel better. However, a 14-year-old is tonight in limbo, left without a school and deprived of an education.

It would be a terrible shame if by their action they hinder the birth of something new for this child.

It is high time that all involved put aside their grossly, overinflated egos and agree that enough is enough. It is high time the child is returned to school and has some normality restored to her life.

10 Responses to Common sense could end this ‘wrapper’ war

  1. Tony Webster February 9, 2016 at 2:58 am

    The fat lady ent sing yet: rather than leaders and wise heads prevailing, look out for unions and lawyers entering the picture. We cud even have a tribulation-thing or a C.O.I….If the devil continues to do his wuk so effectively.
    Does the P.M’s phone…still work?

  2. fired up February 9, 2016 at 7:46 am

    This article is rubbish. I so vex that you even publish this trash. ITS A WRAPPER. All this foolish empowers a society that trives on conflict . All the school fights aired on social media shows low tolerance by the children today. It’s a piece of paper she could have ended this easily or never let it start. Her mother is fueling this and wants to dictate to the ministry. COME ON BARBADOS TODAY!!!!!!!! This is a child….when you went to school you did things that was worse than picking up wappers. Some swept classrooms, what is a wrapper. Look guh wey barbados today.

  3. Derwood February 9, 2016 at 8:05 am

    All about the egos
    Teacher, year head, principal and mother.
    Knowing how rude teenagers can be, if that child responded to the teacher in a rude manner or taken by the teacher to be of a rude response, that teacher probably put her foot down as to the teaching of that child again.
    Ignoring the directive of the year head and principal is a virtual no no and they too adopted the “I gine show you who’s boss” syndrome.
    Wasn’t there but I would not like to think that the mither approached the principal in any aggressive manner for if she did that would be the proverbial straw.
    The child has been given choices of schools and rejected by the mother. How can the ministry justify giving her a place at the St . Michaels and Foundation schools where her original marks didn’t qualify her for and what the mother is now seeking.
    This parent needs to sit down and looks at the educational welfare of her child and put her ego aside.
    My only question is, will the ministry thoroughly investigate the matter for futher case study.

  4. Sue Donym February 9, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Compliments, Barbados Today on this piece.
    The only point on which I differ is where you state that the child was right but should have capitulated. It was for those in error to concede and demonstrate that that would have been the noble course.

  5. Lyn February 9, 2016 at 11:31 am

    I agree totally with the above……….i could not have said it better.

    Who’s suffering? “the child.”

    It’s really really sad……..

  6. miche February 9, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    In Paragraph #6 you stated “after all, while the school and the mother stand their ground and the Ministry of Education seems impotent, a 14-year-old is being deprived of her right to an education.” The mother is totally responsible for this,The student was transferred to another institution,,,she could have been in school,,,, My question yherefore, is,,, who made that decision, was it done in the presence of the mother after some sort of discussion,,and what ( If she was there”) was her response

  7. Nurse February 9, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I do not and will not blame the mother. If the child did say what she said in a rude way she was already sent on suspension she paid for her sin. Why cant the school end it and take back the girl? Why couldn’t the teacher pick up the trash she ordered the child to pick up? People will always try to bash students and they parents but teachers do a lot of foolishness and get away with it. Why on God’s green earth will a teacher who is supposed to be educated suspend a child because she would not take up trash, is there not persons who are paid to clean the school? Yes i get that the children should keep the school clean also, but why should it have came to this all because the girl would not take up trash.

  8. Sandra B February 9, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Enough is enough . in showing who is boss, each person in this very unfortunate tirade is behaving like 2 year olds . it is time that child get back to classes. What lesson is this child being thought, that the life can be stuffed out of you for having a mind of your own. Slavery done Long time ago. She can be a good citizen without having to pick up someone else garbage just because she was ordered to do so. Would anyone of those of persons who have charged, convicted and sentenced that child to death without a proper hearing have gone around the school picking up garbage or have their children do it? Have any of them participated in the annual clean up Barbados?

    There is an old saying what you dont like for yourself don’t pass on to others. I am not saying the child should be rude but I find the teacher, principal and ministry workers to be just as rude but more so extremely abusive to that child and her welfare.

    Where is the child care board and Unicef in all this? We have long passed the stage of children should be seen and not heard. Young or old we all have a voice.

  9. Bajanexcop February 10, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Derwood and Sue Donym has it right. It is clear that the teacher, principal and Ministry of Education are the problem in this situation. I cannot condone the punishment placed on this student and she has a right to refuse, such punishment. To make the matter worse she was not the person who dropped the wrapper. Her refusal was simply seen as adversarial and the so called adults decided that they were going to show her who is in charge. The principal and Minister of Education Mr. Ronald Jones heads should roll for this disgraceful situation, where a student has been deprived of the education these two are supposed to ensure.

  10. confucious February 12, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    allowing disobedience at that institution would have start a horrible precedence with the rest of the students. soon students would equate the girl’s behaviour as being the thing to do and the staff at that school would have become “powerless” when giving instruction. this is prolly what the school staff is thinking.


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