Features — 06 June 2018 — by Yasser Musa
“B” is for Belize

1 June 2018, presentation at Belizean Studies – People’s Dialogue, Marion Jones Sporting Complex, Belize City, Belize

Good morning:  How many teachers are here in this room? I ask you to join us. Be part of a team that will help build up this proposal.  With your ideas, your passion, your desire, Belizean Studies can become a reflection on love, trust, compassion, hope, generosity and service.

How many administrators are here in this room? I ask you to join us. You can decide to be part of a team that could empower teachers to become what they were born to do, BE, soldiers fighting for the soul of a nation.

“Curriculum” is a big word. It is thrown around, but at its core it involves paying attention to our students so that we can find the opportunities for inquiry, that we foster small group conversations, sincere negotiations that will harness multiple perspectives around complex issues. Deep down we aspire, not to teach to a curriculum, but to teach with a COMMUNITY.

With Belizean Studies our classrooms can become laboratories for the imagination. Become a mindful space that puts compassion to practice. Education as a means to all things, as opposed to a means to an end.

How do we know what we know? Five years ago, a special meeting was convened at our school St. John’s College. Our headmaster Yolanda Gongora welcomed Evan X Hyde who to that moment stood steadfast, for decades, calling for our school to pay meaningful attention to the teaching of African and Maya history. We learn best when we reach out to others. That encounter is an example of acknowledgement, a pedagogy of hope.

Without hope, there can be no struggle. The relationship between educators and students is sacred. We must fight against the banking model of education; the dominant lies of minority achievement over lack of opportunity and access for the majority. This is not a political problem, it is a social problem. We face a cultural logic opportunity today, to embrace a new way.

Again, I make a call, let us collaborate in a spirit of creativity, using the tools of technology to advance our educational compact with the people. Our pursuit must be education as a practice of freedom, where teaching community must be our mantra.

We are people of salt, sea, sugar, corn and cassava. School should be about our soil, our land, our pursuits and our creativity. We propose to build with your help a digital platform, a WEB portal with an APP integrated. The APP is not anti-biotics: it is VITAMINS.

Over 70,000 years ago at Blombos, South Africa our ancestors started to create art, acts of creativity. Thousands of years ago our Maya ancestors developed writing, science, engineering, mathematics, agricultural systems, kingship and more. And less than four decades ago the Belizean people forged a most profound proposal freedom and independence.

Now, we the Belizean people, must design a program that is teacher-centered and student-driven. I call on my brothers and sisters, especially the teachers to B.

 “B” is for Belize.

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Deshawn Swasey

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