Bias and it impact on young minds”
Paul Andrew Bourne.
On July 1, 2004, an associate of mine, who is a student at the prestigious University of the West Indies,
Mona Campus, asked that I assist her in drafting a letter for a parent who wanted her son, who was not placed in one of traditional
high school by the GSAT results, to attend the noble St. George’s College. The mother of the 12-year old boy is fearful of the child’s
father temperament. The father, on the other hand, believes that his child must
attend the College (i.e. St. George’s College, only). The father continued to
be a psychological stress to the child. He inflicted vicious physical wounds
to his son in addition to discrediting the boy’s intellectual capabilities.
He believes that in order for his son to attain the required academic standard fitting for today’s
society, the boy must be placed in a traditional high school. I thought that
the introduction of the GSAT was an end to the psychological and emotional stress of students but I was wrong?
Although the child in question attended Jessie Ripoll
Primary school, he is one of the many students who was not placed in a traditional high school. For the purpose of this letter, I will refer to the child as George. George’s
academic performance was mostly in the 80’s however in one of the subjects, he scored less than 50 per cent. His father is insisting that the boy is a “dunce”. If
a parent has the desire for his/her child to attend a particular traditional high school because of a certain preference,
does a disappointment of not being placed in institution means that the child is a “dunce”. Although George worked effortlessly at his course in order to please his parents, his father believes that
he is a failure. Why, why have parents continued to put the innocent and impressionable
minds through this gruesome experience? Why? Could George performance had fallen below his capabilities because of the constant pressure? Why do parent continue to terrorize their young children because of GSAT or other examinations.
In retrospect, I was the only person in my family to have failed the Common Entrance Examination (CEE)
on all three (3) sittings. As such, I hated the word failure. Hence, I worked assiduously in order to change my old reality. In
that, when the CEE results were published in August 1981 without my name therein among the many successful candidates, I experienced
the true meaning of disappointment. My mother wept bitterly and uncontrollably for hours.
Given the smallness of the community and the popularity of my family, the experience was even more difficulty. I felt a knife pierced through my soul when I realized what had happened. That experience reminded me of Christ experience when he said, “Father if this be possible let this
cup past.” I was not the best language student but why, why me, why for the third time?
Furthermore, I dislike the word “dunce” as my mother ascribed this word to my person in 1981 and again
Was the CEE to be my last failure? In 1986, I failed
the CXC English Language examination. That was to be another traumatic experience
in my life. After graduating from Vauxhall Secondary School in 1986, I spent eight years trying desperately to pass English language.
In those years, I spent all my available time practicing different essays topics and answering numerous comprehension
passages but success hid in the wind. I was eager; I wanted so desperately to
pass CXC language but I was unlucky at each sitting. I came to the realization that this subject held the key to my success.
However, how was I to achieve this milestone within the context of not having a personal tutor or any teacher for than matter? I kept writing, editing, rewriting, researching and documenting various positions
on different issues. I recall the voice of the eleventh grade teacher in my head that I will fail the Language examination.
As such, I could not give up. I had to write my way in the hearts and souls of peoples worldwide, and so I kept writing. Today, I hold a Bachelors of Science degree in Demography and Economics, a diploma
in Teacher Training, and eight (8) CXC/GCE subjects. Is this the characteristic
of a “dunce”?
the Georges in Jamaica who believe that the GSAT examination success is be it all and end it all of
your academic success later in life, let my reality me your guide. To all the
parents who continue to call your children “dunce” and other demoralizing words because they were not placed into
a traditional high school, please leave the children alone. Please, to all the
parents of the Georges in Jamaica,
“leave us alone”.
PAUL ANDREW BOURNE, MSc. Demography (candidate); Bsc. Demography (Hons.)