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Taking Daddy to school

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Editor: I have some sympathy with Ms Soleil Gonsalves and her father Ralph Gonsalves when they make the point that some rules at secondary schools may be illegitimate (e.g. school fees). According to her father’s report, it was the 15 year old Ms Gonsalves who first queried the decision to award her 0/60 for math because her cell phone rang in the exam room.{{more}}

It couldn’t be right, Soleil Gonsalves said, since no such GHS rule had ever been made known to her or to others. Her dad, Ralph, was proud of his daughter’s attacking retort and he took up her case.

As one prophetic voice put it “… and a little child shall lead them” (the “them” refers to the animal kingdom, when a new politics is born. Isaiah 11.6)

Now, I had expected that a prelude to all this load of talk about the student’s zero for math would have been a simple apology and explanation from daughter and father respectively, for the presence of the cell phone on the school compound. After all, the father recounts that his “…immediate reaction (to the disciplining of his daughter) was to show no sympathy for her situation…and I told her that.” It was when the adoring father bought fully into the student’s aggressive retort that a “teachable moment” dissolved. Because it was then that the father had the opportunity to

share with the student/daughter, her responsibility first to apologise. Simply to ask pardon of the school authorities and her peers for her disregard of the cell phone ban at the GHS.

Ralph and Soleil Gonsalves do have the right to raise questions about educational governance and administration. (All parents and students do). At the same time, they have the responsibility, as members of the GHS community, to do so – in this case – from the position of an explicitly repentant student.

Observe with me that Gonsalves senior presents his and his daughter’s case as if they are 99% abused and victimized innocents 3 times over. In the exam room, in the interaction between jaundiced teachers and hapless daughters/students and, in media comments. So much courtroom artistry!

The nearer truth might come to light if the Gonsalves family were to do a more sobering self analysis and appreciation.

Gonsalves’ fatherly care is both admirable and handicapped. This school-student-parent incident constitutes for that school, household and politician another valuable teaching learning moment.

Oscar Allen

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