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Saturday, May 30, 2020
Home Features Stepping it up for children while they’re out of school

Stepping it up for children while they’re out of school

There are children who study books because they really love learning, and there are children who study hard because they are natively competitive, and of course there are children who fit into both categories. Bully for these kinds of children; they will use the extra time out of school to stay on top of their game. Ah, they are the kinds who will be calling up (pestering) their teachers to ask for extra work.

I don’t have the numbers, the percentage of children and youth who will be pressing the accelerator – wa, some of those little bohgaz will be burning the books and praying at the same time, praying that their rivals will heng slek, so when they go back to school they’ll be the boss, uncontested.

I will guess that those two groups don’t make up more than 10% of the students in our country. I could be wrong¯the studious ones might make up a far higher percentage than that, but it really doesn’t matter if it’s only one child or youth who will take the time out of school for a frolic. We have to operate on the principle that no child should be left behind.

Quién sabe, it is no sure thing that the horse that breaks out of the gate early will prove to be the best horse over the long run. Who knows what potential resides in the child who was left behind? Every child comes with all the potential from the blueprint of the One who made them. Many a child who was a slow-coach grew up to be synonymous with the magnificent swan.

We have to ensure that the uninterested children and youth are engaged during this time, and the way to do that is to follow Mary Poppins’ advice: find the fun, and snap, the job’s a game. Teachers and parents should be scouring the libraries and the internet to find fun ways to keep young disinterested minds excited. Our teachers should be knocking heads via the internet, sharing ideas with each other about how to light a fire under the wayward ones.

I’ve told you already that I wasn’t engaged in school. I wasn’t disrespectful to my teachers, and I did ask a lot of questions when things got too boring and to show that I cared. I guess that last one there amounts to a lie, but I never sweat about my pretense in school. I regret if I caused dedicated students to lose valuable learning time, but I thought it was for a good cause. Bah, I wasn’t smart enough to realize that some people really loved the four walls and the authority figure at the blackboard, and the book laaning to set them up for the future soft spots in the kingdom.

I follow the edification from the pen of Brian Plummer in his many letters to the Amandala, and the posts of two of my fb friends — my cousin, Tricia Fairweather, all the way out there in China, and Delmarie Fuller Fairweather, one of the stars of the 1970s Compre. All three are/were math teachers (two retired) with very interesting minds, but I doubt they could have reached me in school. Let’s just say many tried, and I don’t give them any fault.

I scraped, really scraped, my math O’ level, mostly because I didn’t do one of the four papers in the exam. It was an eye-opener for me when I came upon the math book my sister, Christine, used during the one year she was at school at St. Catherine Academy. Christine finished her high schooling at Compre, picked up in second form, and the math books she used were the same ones I used. Those books were flat out boring, books only a budding accountant could love.

I happened upon my sister’s math book from her first year at St. Catherine Academy a couple years after I left school, while looking through some old books on a shelf. I will say that if I had had a math book like that, I would have done the fourth paper. The first paper in the O’ Level exam was Arithmetic, the second, Algebra, the third, Geometry, and the fourth, Trigonometry. By the time Trig was introduced to my class at Compre I had already blanked out, just counting the days until I was out of there, so I didn’t learn a thing.

The math books at old Compre were filled, cover to cover, with numbers. My sister’s math book was blessed with stories; before every chapter there was a story explaining where the branch of math came from, and who the famous people were who developed it. Can you believe that my first meeting with the Prince of Drink, Omar Khayyam, was in my sister’s math book, not in a book of poetry?

Hold, I might not have told the complete truth about the math books at the old Compre: there were some lifeless drawings in spots. They didn’t move me. When I read the story behind Trigonometry in my sister’s St. Catherine math book it was so easy to connect the dots and see, eye-opener, how essential and exciting the branch of study was.

Ah, after going through my sister’s math book I actually picked up the subject as a hobby, but it went the same way my drawing lessons and my Spanish lessons went. With the math and the drawing I would have had to give up too many things to keep at them. Spanish? My Spanish foundered on the rocks of pronombres, direct object pronouns, the blinkin grammar aka parsing. I can read Spanish fairly well. I don’t speak Spanish, I speak Spanish English. When I’m drinking I will taak my Spanish English without shame. If I try to speak Spanish when I’m sober I try to speak Spanish Spanish, but fortunately it is not a habit of mine to charlar when I’m sober, because yo soy un orador terible…I told you.

There’s a lot of exciting stuff that can be done with geography and history and all those other subjects, but I hib my two cents in the math direction because it is an area where we really have to overcome our fear or disinterest. It can be done, and it must be done. There’ll be fewer jobs in tourism, and that means our students will have to brush up on their numbers so that they can do better in the sciences, so that we can build a better Belize. It can be done, and it must be done.

Playing cards actually helps children with math and builds the memory. “Pairs” is a simple game of matching cards that the young ones can learn very easily. For the young ones we can start by just using the face cards in the deck. Turn the cards face down in a set order; pull a card, say a queen, and then pull another card. If it’s a match, put that away, and if you miss, your opponent gets a turn. The person who matches the most pairs wins the game.

Another fun game is Eat di Pak…I think you deal out seven cards to each player and turn one on the table face up. The first person to play must match the suit, or if they have a card of similar value to the one on the table…say a seven of hearts is on the table, you can change the suit by matching it with another seven. If you don’t have the suit or a card of matching value you have to “eat di pak” of cards on the table until you can make a play.

You can also make your opponent eat di pak by playing an ace, then your opponent has to eat one card off the deck, or if you play a deuce your opponent has to eat two. However, if your opponent matches your ace, you have to eat two cards, and if they match your deuce you have to eat four. More than two can play, and the person who empties their hand of cards first wins the game.

Hold halt, absolutely no Pitti-Pat…Mohobub told us about all the wreckage that game causes, di starvation for hardworking fellows, di bon up food. My, humuch woman noh gamble out all the dinner money! That Pitti-Pat, it is too hot to handle.

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