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Education: Grace, Mercy & Opportunity

By Sharina Gerald

I see grace; I see mercy; and I see opportunity.

This was the message I sent to my friends in the midst of everything. When it was first announced in mid-March that the nation’s schools would be closed for one week, I had the intuition that it would be closed for much longer and that many of the inequities in education would be revealed. I said to myself, “One week?! For a disease that had an average incubation period of 14 days?! No way!” And surely enough as the week passed, the time was extended. Schools would be re-opened instead in the new term, April 20, 2020. But when that time came, we soon found out that we would be inside much longer.

As I contemplated the new normal, one thing was clear to me: for everything under the sun, there is a time and a season. There is a time to build and a time to knock down that which has been built ( cf Eccle 3:1,3). I was sure that education in Trinidad and Tobago was never going to be the same again. You see, change is the only constant. And if we must live, we must be willing to endure change. We must be flexible and not rigid.

As an educator, I spent the earlier part of this pandemic musing upon the mindset that must be adopted by all stakeholders in education if we were to advance. I thought of the roles of the Ministry of Education, the school administrators, teachers, parents and students. I thought of how we need to move from having a fixed mindset to what is known as a growth mindset.  I thought of how we all have to challenge the status quo, how we need to be disruptive in our teaching and learning and the planning for such. What is required is that we raise the consciousness of our minds to accept that the possibilities are endless.

Can we consider a blended-learning option in secondary education? How about a more enriching project-based experience? What about the more frequent use of learning management systems and learning platforms? These were just questions that I am sure will be answered in time to come. But for now, how can we make the best of this opportunity? How can we allow grace and mercy to flow? How can we embolden our minds to appreciate this transformation for what it is?