Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

 WEEKEND READING.  Scroll down to
♦ For discussion — People's Charter Pillar 2 
♦ Critical Engagement and Future Scenarios (Part 2) by Akuila Yabaki. 
I would rate Akuila's comments as "essential reading".
♦ Friday's posting on the huge global loan.

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.
Evaluating ourselves

Wonders never cease in my life. I was having a tanoa of yaqona with one of my older relatives and we got talking about schools and how they operate. He said when he was in boarding school back in 1962 every Saturday the whole school would gather in the hall and the teachers, including   the priests who were also teachers, would sit at the top and the students would air their grievances. The students would be asked if they had any problems with the teachers, the food, the buildings, the discipline, the work or anything that the school offered.

Students were also asked to point out teachers weaknesses - constructively, and also give praise to those they thought who deserved it. But they had to justify their utterances.   The head boy usually had a lot of things to say because the students would tell him. He was a “mathematician” by nature and always looked at things like that. One time a student asked why they had to take fourteen subjects when they needed to pass only eight. The answer from the priest was, “Son, we are here to educate all of you not to make you pass exams.”

Another student questioned why they had to work after school. Straight after school the students would go and change and go to the plantation to clean their plots for three-quarters of an hour and then run to the river to get a large stone that they could carry and take it to the beach. They were preparing to build the seawall. And after that they had to go and do their home work and then it was prep time. Prep was when they prepared for the next days lesson. Father said, “Thank you for that son, the answer to that is, when you leave school, you will go to work and you will work from 8 am to 5 pm and you will go home and do some more work around your home. We are preparing you now so you can endure that.”

The best part of the forum was when students would point out a teacher weakness and the teacher would stand up and accept it and say that he would improve on that part of his work. No student was taken to task for telling the teachers what they thought, because everything the student brought was always spot on. And the school reached such heights that one of the students became a Prime Minister. And there are many more in various parts of the world contributing to the betterment of the world. 

I was relating this to some of my work mates and one of them said, “Allen, repeat that part about the Saturday sessions.” And I repeated that the students were given the opportunity to ask questions about how the teachers conducted themselves and how the school was run. And I asked why.

He said, “Allen, if they were having that kind of evaluation back in the 1960s then nothing is really new as far as the 360-degree appraisal that some companies use to lift the standard of their services and human resources. That is transparency at its best.” And he added, “Please get in touch with Transparency International, that story will interest them.”

Another friend said that in recent times people got offended too easily and thus created their own barriers. In recent times people don’t like to be told of their weakness or faults and thus their full potential is seldom reached. Interesting or what that this kind of evaluation had been going on some 50 years ago? I was just wondering if it was going even earlier that that. Having access to many history books I see that many things we are doing today are not new, even fashion that we ooo and ah over was well and alive in the very distant past. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could adopt what those students and their teachers were practising so that we could make ourselves better people? 

Heck, we may just lift the very standards that we think is already up there.

[Allen doesn't made the point, though he could, that this is the sort of approach that would improve all institutions — including Government.]


Dream on said…
This pipe dream should be very easy with the PER in place and the intimidation that goes with it for anyone who disagrees, even mildly, with the regime that some ridiculously call a 'government'?
Critical Thinking in education said…
Allen's description of a REAL EDUCATION:

What a joy to read about real education being conducted in Fiji so many years ago! And by dedicated priests one might assume? Whose interest was never 'self'. It was purely the betterment and formation of those in their charge. To achieve the very best outcome for them all: individually. It is undoubtedly in the entire realm of Leadership in Education that failures have occurred. Then, there has been no synergy between parents and the educators. Parents in Fiji have a great responsibility for the failure of critical thinking that has been applied across the entire realm of education. In our daily lives, we need to offer critical suggestions, courteously of course, and then be prepared to receive criticism ourselves. That is how society progresses: by a system of critical thought which recognises error and adjusts accordingly.

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