Monday, 12 February 2007

Intellectual Drought

I went to the doctor today for a check-up. He says he will take off the cast next Monday and put on a new one. In the meantime I have to keep my foot elevated to help with the pain caused by having the cast on. The blood flow is restricted by the cast and causes swelling, discomfort, tightness etc.

The doctor’s office is always busy and even though everyone has an appointment, inevitably you end up waiting very long before you are seen. I took along George Lamming’s “In the Castle of My Skin” to read today but did not get further than a few pages. Too much noise and I couldn’t concentrate. Most of the noise was from this obnoxious woman who speaks at the top of her voice or complains endlessly as if the rest of the world really cares to hear what she thinks. Worse of all, she seems to be there every time I go!

I read In the Castle of My Skin many years ago so I decided to read it again. Lamming like so many of his generation is brilliant. Recently we lost a great mind- Oliver Jackman- and I honestly am of the opinion that Barbados is not producing the calibre of minds that we once produced. I think about Clennel Wickham, Charles Duncan O’neal, Wynter Crawford, Frank Collymore, George Lamming, Errol Barrow, Kamau Brathwaite, Oliver Jackman, Austin Clarke, Woodville Marshall, Hilary Beckles, Cammie Tudor, Gladstone Holder and so many others and then I look at our intellectual landscape today and there is a serious dearth. Yes bright minds are still around, but most of them are over fifty and the younger minds are few. There are however a lot of pseudo-intellectuals walking around. When I look at the quality of the social science graduate from Cave Hill, I am frankly appalled. I have read essays students in the social science faculty have written and gotten Grades A and B for and I wonder what the world is coming to. The grammar and sentence structure is poor, there is absolutely no evidence of any analytical or articulation skills and overall it is difficult to grasp the central argument of the paper. If this is the best we are producing, then I am pessimistic about the future of Barbados!

I blame much of this on the way we have whole heartedly embraced so-called modernity (television, dvd, playstations etc) while relegating books and reading to the back burner, along with a continuous lowering of standards and settling for mediocrity. When I was growing up there was no tv in our house, much less whatever gadget was around at that time (I think Atari came out when I was in my teens) and so we read. Instead of having images on a screen, our brains were forced to create our own images based on what we read, to imagine and analyse. We hardly did multiple choice in school and when we did it was mostly for Mathematics. We had to write compositions from the time we were in infant school and we had to do comprehension where proper sentences were expected, not one word answers. We spoke Bajan but we were expected to know how to speak and write the Queen’s English. We have sacrificed much of this to make life easier for our children. We spoon feed them and we lower the bar so that they pass rather than keeping the standard high and ensuring that they aim at the sky. At the end of the day we will have done them a great injustice.

1 comment:

Mr. C said...

Have to agree with what you said. I did have a Commodore 64 when I was about 10 but we were burgled and it was stolen about a week later! At the time it was a shock but looking back it was the best thing that happened. Nowadays the sophistication of the latest computer games are an addiction of the worst sort sucking you into an unreal world. I'm happy i didn't play too much pacman and read just for fun and not just for homework.