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Educators must recognise learning diversity

President’s Honours List 2018: Marissa Josann Celestin (from left), Chrelle Moses-Belmar, Calota Escovalez and Joreen Joseph. Photo: Elmo Griffith

By Kaelanne Jordan,

Dr Lennox Bernard has urged Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI) graduates to understand, interrogate and navigate the concept of diversity which exists in every classroom setting.

Dr Bernard, a Board member of CREDI, observed that when educators fail to recognise that diversity exists among children—hearing problems, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia—they fail in delivering justice and fairness to these diversities.

“Then it is inequitable what we are doing,” Dr Bernard said in his keynote address ‘Developing a Catholic pedagogy inclusive of diverse learning contexts’ at CREDI’s graduation ceremony last Tuesday at the Our Lady of Fatima RC Church, Curepe.

Dr Bernard highlighted that diversity, multiculturalism, varied social and economic status affect both children and educators. He gave the example of teachers who remain in the classroom because they are afraid of students and, on the other hand, teachers who will stay with the child despite the problems and idiosyncrasies.

He opined that society is losing Catholic teachers to crime—white-collar crime especially, violence, minor infractions and a growing lack of social “graces”.

Dr Bernard also identified that 62 per cent of Catholic educators live in hot spot areas, according to a study.

Additionally, male students, he commented have imbibed negative values: low self-esteem, learned helplessness, ambivalent self-regard, victimhood—blaming everyone—hopelessness, anger, rage, impulsivity and a lack of empathy.

Dr Bernard then reminded that their roles are more than applying knowledge and skills.

“Our teachers are not teaching the affective domain. We have reached the point of simply wanting them to pass exams….We forget that with every lesson, even in Mathematics, there is an affective domain which we fail to utilise.”

Also delivering remarks was CREDI President Fr Jason Boatswain who told graduands that this year’s ceremony signifies a special hope as CREDI resolutely marches forward in its mission to shape and form the next generation of Catholic educators.

He acknowledged that while the past year can be characterised by a significant degree of ambiguity, the ceremony signifies a great sense of accomplishment not only for the class but also for the board, faculty and staff who kept the CREDI ship afloat amidst the flood of uncertainties.

Fr Boatswain highlighted that it is with this focus of stability CREDI embarked on a deliberate strategy of containment in academic and administrative functioning and disciplined financial management.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Jason Gordon, the main celebrant at the Mass commented on the themes of consistency and discipline in the gospel reading (Revelations 14:14–19). He reminded educators: “In your classroom, you do not know which of these children is the one that God has chosen specially for something that is so important for Him. And your preparing of that child is going to be integral for God’s Kingdom.”

“In your hands you have a life, that if they experience what they need to experience, [they] will make incredible contributions to our world tomorrow….

“But you also have a life that if it is shut down and frustrated and doesn’t receive the education that they need, they will be destructive to our country.”

The graduation ceremony involved the blessing of the rings by Archbishop Gordon, the conferring of degrees in Pastoral Ministry: Bible Study (Associate Degree), Degree of Bachelor of Education with Honours in Early Childhood Care and Education, Educational Leadership and Special Education with closing remarks by Dr Terrence Farrell, Deputy Chairman, Board of CREDI.