The JN Foundation is recruiting revolutionaries… education revolutionaries, that is.
Dr. Renee Rattray, Director of Education Programmes at JN Foundation is not only passionate about education. She also has a clear vision of what is needed. Essentially, this is: We need to do things differently. We cannot keep doing the same thing over and over and getting the same poor results. And we need to act urgently! We owe it to generations of young Jamaicans, don’t we?
I firmly believe the education system is failing our young people. We cannot keep pushing them through a production line, coming out the other end still struggling with literacy and numeracy issues, still lacking in self esteem and life skills. Every child has potential for something – not necessarily an academic genius, but that spark of creativity and imagination that makes each child unique. A truly “wholistic” education can bring this out. I personally was fortunate enough to have benefited from such an education through the Froebel philosophy. Educator Friedrich Froebel said (and perhaps this is what we are searching for):
“Protect the new generation: do not let them grow up into emptiness and nothingness, to the avoidance of good hard work, to introspection and analyzation without deeds, or to mechanical actions without thought and consideration. Guide the young away from the harmful chase after outer things and the damaging passion for distraction.”
One of the presenters at the School Leadership Summit next week is Dr. Christopher Emdin of Columbia University, a science advocate and founder of the #HipHopEd social media movement. He’s an innovator (clearly); you can look up his TED Talks on blending hip hop with education to reach our young people. It is hoped that a similar approach may be taken with dancehall. Yes! That’s revolutionary!
Then there is Salome Thomas-EL, an award-winning teacher and principal, currently the Head of School at Thomas Edison Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware. “Every child needs someone to be crazy about them,” he says. Throughout his teaching career he has helped children to overcome the barriers of poverty, violence and simply being ignored to achieve their dreams through learning and through their lives beyond school. He is passionate and caring. Revolutionaries are passionate!
Pete Hall sounds like a fantastic team-builder, trainer and coach, with a total of 19 years’ experience in teaching (12 as a principal). He is someone with energy, who can motivate teachers. Revolutionaries need motivation and encouragement at all times, don’t they?
The Summit is not going to be a lot of speeches and nothing else, though. Each session will be highly interactive, with participants coming away with practical strategies and plans that they have worked out over the two days with other education leaders that they have networked with. Why did the JN Foundation choose the concept of a “revolution”? I hope it is clear that they are seeking to energize people into action, into the implementation of new ideas. Passion leading to action! That’s what revolutionaries do!
Three amazing Jamaican women will be pivotal to the event: Kasan Troupe, Principal of Denbigh High School; Dr. Renee Rattray of JN Foundation; and Nsombi Jaja, quality management consultant. They are all vibrant speakers and motivators, and if you have not met them before…Well, educational leaders, principals, student leaders…you should! Just get on board and absorb that collective energy!
Oh, by the way – Happy Nelson Mandela Day! And let us remember these words from the former president of South Africa and 1993 Nobel Peace Prize laureate:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”