August 16, 2018

The Editor speaks: Teaching


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The 5th October is World Teacher’s Day where all the persons in this “most honourable” of all professions are recognised.

Our Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor Connolly so described the teaching profession as most honourable and she is right. It is.

She also said, “As a government, we want to acknowledge and give emphasis to the vital role teachers play and the dedicated commitment needed to develop globally-minded citizens, nurturing families, strengthening communities, and building a country’s next generation. The goal is not only to celebrate teachers on this special day but also revitalize the image of and respect for teaching as a vocation by increasing public awareness on the value of teachers to Caymanian society.”

Teachers make the most impact on any society and the vast majority do not get paid enough. As a profession it is one of the most lowly paid therefore the smartest and brightest would not readily rate that in their top three. Unless you are really dedicated, and there are, thankfully, a lot of teachers in that category.

Teaching is as critical as any profession including medical, law or accountancy to list a few. Dedication to purpose, knowledge expertise and advocacy are core strengths of those in the teaching profession. It is ironic that those professions named above teachers and carry the higher salaries, teachers are instrumental in preparing others for those professions.

Here in the Cayman Islands I strongly believe there is a need to raise the stature of the teaching profession by increasing teacher pay! That would immediately attract Caymanians and the best and brightest.

It is obvious by the examination results that the teaching profession needs some major reform and I am hoping with our new Minister of Education’s background she will be up to the giant task ahead. A catapult is urgently needed to transform our schools of education quickly otherwise this island will fall apart. The weeding out of bad teachers is a priority and this can be done by instituting rigorous (& honest) assessments of performance and paying for that performance (i.e., merit pay). The old practice of dishonest assessments of promoting bad teachers to get rid of them must stop. And I have spoken to many teachers about this and it is a major complaint. The schools do not want to lose good teachers so they downgrade them when they apply for a more senior job.

Our country needs the best and brightest professionals teaching our children.

Minister O’Connor Connolly said it perfectly in her Message today:

“When a teacher believes there is a school community that treats teachers as competent professionals, they are better able to use their God-given talents to impart the wisdom needed to educate children in a way that develops a love for learning. The goal is to ensure teachers and educators are empowered; properly recruited, well-trained professionally, qualified, motivated, and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.”

Teaching is a profession and in my book the most important one of all. It is where we all start from in our growing up. Without education we might just as well be a donkey.

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