“Minister [Anthony] Garcia, are the ‘shattered bones [in the] right elbow’ of Shareefa Ali and Chris Khan’s 9-year-old son–injuries sustained, as reported in the 3 February, 2017 Trinidad Guardian, as a result of a fight initiated by a bully and which required surgery—a ‘part of growing up’?
“Is being ‘hit with a chair’ and then being hospitalised as a result, as happened in the case of one young woman whose story was carried in the Trinidad Guardian in 2011, ‘part of growing up’? Is a broken arm, of the sort suffered by 8-year-old Enshan Hosein in March 2017 when, as reported in the Trinidad Express, a fellow student pushed him to the ground, ‘part of growing up’?”
The following Letter to the Editor, which deals with the Education Minister’s recent statements on the subject of school violence, was submitted to Wired868 by Akilah Holder.
According to an article in the Trinidad Express on Wednesday 20 December headlined “School Fights Part of Growing Up,” Education Minister Anthony Garcia told the media that fighting in school is normal and nothing out of the ordinary.
School fights are, Garcia was quoted as saying, “a part of life, a part of growing up. But the media seems to be sensationalizing this whole thing as if it is a big scourge on our education system.”
“He encouraged the new school supervisors,” the Express story continued, “to assist in ‘changing that conversation’.”
Really? School fights are “part of growing up”? And new school supervisors are to assist in changing that conversation?
Change it to what? To a discussion about what? Certainly not a discussion on the same sex education that, within a month of being appointed to his position, Minister Garcia so emphatically declared “will not be taught in our schools.”
It seems to me that Garcia was merely throwing around a fancy academic phrase to try to impress us all, to try to make us think he knew what he was talking about. But you did not need any special glasses or any special insight to see right through him.
And there’s more: Garcia actually told the media as well that, when he was growing up, he got into fights in school. I didn’t realise that was something to be proud of, to boast about. Do you think he heard himself speaking?
Garcia even went on to say, if the December 20 Loop article on the issue is accurate, that boys fight to “establish themselves.” Where the hell did he get that from? My research—I had to check to ensure I hadn’t missed some recent development or discovery in psychology—revealed that that is not at all so.
In an article on pbs.org titled “Understanding and Raising Boys,” American psychologist Joseph Tobin, Ph.D, explains that, while rough play is normal for boys, when it turns into an actual fight, that aggressiveness is problematic.
Clearly, a distinction needs to be made between the two, a distinction, one hopes, that will not be too fine for our fighting-hardened Education Minister.
For here was the Minister of Education, the man entrusted with the academic future and security of our children while they attend school, announcing for all the world to hear that, along with all the other garbage recorded above, he had got into fights when he was growing up,
Minister Garcia, are the “shattered bones [in the] right elbow” of Shareefa Ali and Chris Khan’s 9-year-old son—injuries sustained, as reported in the 3 February, 2017 Trinidad Guardian, as a result of a fight initiated by a bully and which required surgery—a “part of growing up”?
Is being “hit with a chair” and then being hospitalised as a result, as happened in the case of one young woman whose story was carried in the Trinidad Guardian in 2011, “part of growing up”? Is a broken arm, of the sort suffered by 8-year-old Enshan Hosein in March 2017 when, as reported in the Trinidad Express, a fellow student pushed him to the ground, “part of growing up”?
I can go on, Minister Garcia, but I’d like to think that by now you have got the picture, feel foolish, and regret your statement. I would like to think you do.
Were you never taught growing up, Minister Garcia, that you should always think before you talk? Please load brain before shooting off mouth?
I do hope that you have learned that now, and that you have realised the inanity of your statements. I also hope that you now see how distasteful and unbecoming it was for a man of your standing, the Education Minister no less, to make such a statement.
If I were you, Minister Garcia, I would apologise and admit that such a statement was in poor taste. I would retract it. But humility comes easily to me so perhaps it’s unfair to expect you, Mr Minister, to eat humble pie.
You see, Mr Minister, back in the day, even without weapons, school fights were wrong; they still are today. Students who got into fights back then needed to be taught to manage and control their emotions, to receive anger management training. Ditto students who get into fights nowadays. Because school fights are not “part of life, part of growing up.”
Let me also say that your getting into a fight when you were younger is nothing to boast about; in fact, it is something to be ashamed of. I cannot believe you can be Education Minister and not know that.
And here is something else you need to know: thus far, you have done a lousy job of addressing the issue of school violence. Teachers, parents and students continue to complain. Why not just admit that you do not have this under control and perhaps do not know what you are doing?
Have you considered moving over to make way for someone who can address this issue along with the other issues plaguing our now lousy education system? Please don’t tell me that you inherited the mess; the reason you were put there is to clean it up.
Of course you also have the option of levelling with the public and conceding that finding the required solutions is taking rather longer than you had anticipated.
Facing up to your failings in that way would be better than making those foolish statements in attempting to save your face.