Making history attractive again

It may not be a case of history repeating itself, but, faced with declining interest in the subject among secondary school students, the Barbados-based Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) is seeking to remedy the situation.

History is not a compulsory subject in secondary schools here, a situation historians say is the reason that young people appear to know little about their past.

The fear is generations are being bred to become, like the Jamaican Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey said, trees without roots, because they are being raised without “the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture”.

However, this could be reversed, if the CXC is successful in reintroducing history as a “must do” subject.

“We’ve just put together a committee headed by a professor from the University of the West Indies to do some digging into history to see what are the causes for persons not doing history, and to try to put together some strategy for getting more persons to participate in history as a subject,” CXC Registrar and Chief Executive Officer Glenroy Cumberbatch said on Tuesday to an audience gathered in the Steel Shed at Queen’s Park for a lecture on The Development, Challenges and Contribution of the Caribbean Examinations Council.

CXC Registrar Glenroy Cumberbatch

The lecture, chaired by University of the West Indies Cave Hill Instructional Development and Education Specialist Dr Sylvia Henry, was part of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society’s lecture series themed, Without An Education In Your Head, You Are Better Off Dead – borrowing a line from the calypso, Education, by Trinidadian calypsonian Mighty Sparrow.

Cumberbatch’s revelation was prompted by a comment by historian Trevor Marshall, who charged that “history is now seemingly going the way of all flesh”.

“We understand that at every level, [from] primary, that there is no history [taught] in Barbados basically, except at tertiary level,” Marshall complained.

Historian Trevor Marshall

Asserting that Barbados, and many Caribbean territories were “suffering from the headlong gathering rush” to do STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – Marshall asked, “should CXC not have a plan to save and protect certain critical subjects like history?”

The question from the history professor, who has retired after lecturing at the Barbados Community College and the University of the West Indies, stirred up debate on whether teachers were equipped, adequately supported, and possessed the creativity to teach Caribbean history in schools.

It also echoed a call during Black History Month by activist David Comissiong for an organized system of teaching history in schools.

The Pan-Africanist and President of the Clement Payne Movement had voiced his concerns in February about the way African history was taught in schools, and the fact that it was not part of regular studies at many of the learning institutions in Barbados.

“The teaching of our history, of our black studies, is something that has to be done very expertly and sensitively and with a proper perspective,” Comissiong had advised.

“In the hands of unskillful teachers, or using works that are not well-designed, you could end up doing more harm than good.”

But primary school teacher Claudine Moseley told those gathered at the Steel Shed that teaching history, “all depends on the teacher”.

Teacher Claudine Moseley

Moseley, who is assigned to St Mark’s Primary School, recalled that while at Hilda Skeene Primary she had introduced her Class Three pupils to Barbadian journalist and politician, Wynter Crawford, who was elected to the St Philip seat in 1940.

Moseley said the students were made to play dramatic roles depicting Crawford and others of that 1940s, after the roundabout at Six Roads was named after this outstanding Barbadian.

“You may not see Wynter Crawford in the syllabus, but that does not mean teachers cannot do something about history,” she argued.

Education specialist Dr Sylvia Henry

“In my class, [for] two weeks, we worked our project. Six roads came into my class and on each road was a project that Wynter Crawford did in St Philip . . . You just can’t follow the book . . . . Teachers have to be creative and we don’t have all that many creative teachers.

“That was the jumping off point for doing something exciting on Wynter Crawford,” she said, adding that with such experiences students were more likely to opt for history classes in secondary school and college.

7 Responses to Making history attractive again

  1. Jennifer April 14, 2017 at 2:22 am

    Listen nincons there need not be much digging to find out what are the causes for persons not doing history. What you historians need to do is to stop nullifying and lying to the students about their history as a black people and stop allowing the engineered system to tell you what and what not to teach this people on their history, for a fear of an uprising, thereby keeping this people in the mouth of the blood drinking serpent. It is the same for the church, they too hiding and lying to the people. Find the identity of this people and link it to history and you will see how many students want to take it up. This is a manufactured people who has been CUT OFF FROM BEING A NATION. We are the best kept SECRET on earth.

  2. Sheron Inniss April 14, 2017 at 6:07 am

    Jennifer I loves you. History was compulsory in my time. I only enjoyed West Indian History though. No bragging I received a Grade 1 in General CXC. I had a terrific teacher in Mrs Collins at AX and tutoring from Mr Marshall and Cameron Tudor(he taught at AX for a bit in my time) as well. I hated European history and failed A level History which I did at Cawmere; no I am not ashamed to write it here. I only wanted to know how it related to me in terms of the slave trade and such like. I have since made it my business to emancipate myself from mental slavery and learn my real story. History is no longer taught from 1st form at secondary school anyhow so what can the children learn in a rush. There are some real igrunt people holding high positions in Bim. The system needs revamping the right way and I don’t see that happening in my lifetime with these brainwashed big wigs.

    • Jennifer April 14, 2017 at 7:16 am

      @Sheron – all praises, this people is infected with wickedness from all sides. Just like our names are all branded on, from the surnames to the given misnomers such as bajan, jamaican etc. They just read from those white washed books and do no research at all to help themselves or the young ones.

  3. Bobo April 14, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Jennifer great response–I grew up in Barbados learning British history, I had to go to Italy to learn about my Ancestry history in which start from Genesis ch. 2 v 8 from there on I became the proudest female on this earth, because i know from whence I came ‘one of the greatest civilization ever created’.

    Couple months ago I was in Barbados i spoke to one of the top educators–why the local curriculum don’t contain black history in which began in Genesis–his reply we educators don’t have time for that” -he gave all type of excuses not worthy to write, I’m still in shock.

    • Jennifer April 14, 2017 at 7:13 am

      @Bobo – we are surrounded on all sides with lies which keeping this people from rising. Those “big heads” should ensure that these young people should get the help that is needed to get this people out of their current state to get on the economic ladder. Then they want to know what the problems are etc……………

  4. seagul April 14, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Well educated fools they have ruined di world
    And start make it hard for both di boys and di girls
    Dem steal all di Africans diamonds and pearls
    And start bank it up inna federal reserves
    This story is real History

  5. WhoCares? April 14, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Lol. I still cannot fathom what Hannibal Cossing the Alps had to do with my future after finishing school at QC.


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