Jamaica Follow the Leader

Jamaican teachers take turn being the leader during a “blind caterpillar” exercise.

Teaching: An honorable profession

In the last few months I’ve met with a number of administrators and professors from schools of education at Marian, Butler and IUPUI. A common theme is a noticeable drop in applications from students who want to be teachers.

Contrast this with a recent service trip I took with a team from Peace Learning Center to Sav La Mar Jamaica for a 3-day teacher vocational training focused on conflict resolution and peace building in the classroom.

In Jamaica, the teaching profession is still ranked as a prestigious position for females and males.  Many teachers told stories of their parents urging them to be educators even though Jamaican schools are oftentimes crowded and underfunded with a lack of basic teaching supplies and technology.

“This is the best training I’ve ever attended,” said a veteran Jamaican teacher while participating in this vocational training on peace and conflict resolution. The three day spring conference hosted over 90 participants who learned ways to peacefully resolve their conflicts while improving their classroom management.

The teachers assembled were challenged to reflect on why they are teachers, while exploring the root causes of many of the problems their students and communities face. “We must be the change we wish to see in the world,” they shared.

Participants received a Teach the Facilitator Manual and Jamaican Student Peace Education Workbook both printed and electronic, posters, learning guides and other materials to share with their students and colleagues.  Day three included small group work designing and implementing their own peace education workshop.

“I think this training should be mandatory for every existing and new teacher in Jamaica,” a high school teacher commented on the evaluation.  “Make this training part of our university teacher curriculum,” said another.

We have much to learn from Jamaicans on how our communities should honor and support teachers.  It saddens me to hear stories of parents in USA telling their children not to go into teaching because they won’t make enough to pay their student loans.

Teaching is an extremely important profession that requires our best and brightest.

We should do all we can to support and improve teaching and learning for everyone.

This section is written by Tim Nation, Executive Director and Co-founder of Peace Learning Center.