Teachers taught how to make local history relevant and engaging for students
Some of this country’s teachers have received a lesson in how to make local history relevant and engaging for students in the classroom setting.
The workshop, which was a collaborative effort of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation Inc and Ministry of Education, took place on Friday. Its focus was teaching the Garifuna heritage and culture with specific focus on research methodology and cultural heritage.
David “Darkie” Williams, the president of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation, said that the Foundation has been hosting exercises like this one since 2006.
He explained that the Foundation was responding to the issue of accessing related information to formulate teaching material.
“I hope that this seminar opens up new doors, equip you with at least one fresh idea that you will be able to use to introduce the subject of the Garifuna and other things related to aspects of Vincentian heritage to your students and in so doing, stimulate the interest of the students in what this heritage and this culture is all about,” Williams said.
The president of the Foundation also said they were also working with the idea of a Garifuna research or resource centre where people could come and access material.
But he said at present, they were collecting information and working on obtaining a physical space to make it possible.
Aldia Gumbs-Dyer, the senior education officer at the Curriculum Unit said the education ministry’s collaboration with the Garifuna Heritage Foundation is expected to bring to teachers new knowledge and skills of taking the information back to the classroom but also on conducting research themselves.
“We are also hoping that today’s session, by allowing you to conduct research to unearth new evidence, we will be able to dispel some of the propaganda that has become so engrained in our society that people now take it as fact,” Gumbs-Dyer said. “While the majority of our teachers teach the new information, the new facts that have been presented to us, we still have one or two here and there who still hold on to that old information.”
The senior education officer said that one of these incorrect notions was that “Arawaks were peaceful and Caribs were warlike”.
She said some teachers often argue that this was what they were taught in school. But Gumbs-Dyer said with exposure to other ideas, teachers cannot just hold on to what they were taught, but should also consult with information and do their own research in order to teach students.
She also said that teachers complain that students are losing interest and do not want to learn about their own environs.
And she hopes that the one of the benefits of the workshop would allow for teachers to return to classrooms and make a positive difference.
The facilitators of the workshop were Dr Niall Finnernan and Dr Christina Welch from the Cultural Heritage and Resource Management department at the University of Winchester in the United Kingdom.
Finnernan, who gave brief remarks, said that he and his colleague have been doing work in the Caribbean for some time.
He said the workshop was really about showing teachers how to make the history relevant for students, which can in turn have positive effects on the country in the future.
Finnernan told teachers that he hoped that the workshop will be valuable to them.
“The whole onus of this seminar we’ve put together is to make it practical, make it stuff that’s gonna work because we realize there are many, many limitations; not just here but all over the world with issues of teaching humanities and doing humanities,” Finnernan said.