Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 3rd 2013 Contents A23
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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• Junior Technician must have EEET and A+ certification.
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She was 13 years old and
came in for abdominal pains
and headaches. She looked
fine and her physical was normal.
More impressive was her men-
tal status. Her affect was flat,
voice low-pitched, face expres-
sionless. I asked her what was
"Nothing," she replied.
"Any problems at home?"
There was a minimal hesita-
tion. Then, a soft "No."
"She not doing well," offered
"Yuh not enjoying school?"
She had done well in the 11-
plus. First choice. Friends from
primary got that school too. Par-
ents supportive and concerned.
Suddenly it all came out.
"Doc, I don t know what has
come over her...She doesn t want
to go to school...comes home
crying...is always tired, every-
thing hurts, her appetite poor...
she doesn t want to go out any-
where, friends not calling her...I
do not know what to do."
My first thought was that she
was being sexually abused. For
once she showed some life and
vigorously denied it. An exami-
nation confirmed that she had
not been molested, at least not
Her attitude became confident
at that point: no, no one was
"You really don t like the
Now, the answer was warm.
"No!" As if the talk of sexual
abuse had loosened something in
"She strong, Doc. Something
bothering her in that school. You
think I should put her into one
of the international schools?
They treat children differently."
So the decision was made and
off she went with instructions to
return promptly if she was not
better in the New Year, just
around the corner.
Nothing was heard for some
One day the door opened and
in she came. Not came, strode!
Different child. Smiling, back
straight, face animated, voice
strong and eager. She had put on
weight. Near the top of her class,
active in the drama group and
the volleyball team. She loved the
"So many things to do, Doc!
But the teachers are the best."
So I asked her the question
that has been burning my mind
ever since I experienced what my
children went through in our
"What s the difference? What s
the difference between our teach-
ers and the teachers from the
The answer was quick.
"Trinidadian teachers put you
down, Doc. The foreign teachers
build you up."
Let me repeat that. It s some-
thing I keep hearing time and
time again, first from my chil-
dren, now from many, many
other children. Our teachers, our
schools, put their students down.
Foreign teachers don t do that.
They support, encourage and
build up the students.
I became interested in this
again when I read a letter pub-
lished in last Wednesday s News-
day. It was written by Sarah
Parks, whom I have never met.
For me it is such an important
letter I am going to copy most of
it because it deserves to be read
by all parents in T&T.
It is entitled: "Society managed
by bullies," and it goes:
"THE EDITOR: If Trinidad was
not a society of cowards largely
managed by bullies in the private
and public sector, there would
not be this large problem of
rogue corrupt cops in the police
service. Fear is a strong stimulant
for control. Fear not love controls
"Trinidad s education system is
the place where learning to be a
coward or a bully is honed.
Train up a child in the way he
should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it, says
"The majority of yesterday s
children (today s adults) were
trained up to be cowards. Yester-
day s children were largely trained
up to be cowards. They were
honed into this characteristic set
from seven years of primary
school bullying by their teachers,
followed by five to eight years of
advanced bully during their sec-
ondary school years. Bullying by
their peers was mild compared to
that done by teachers who had
(have) power of control over all
aspects of the lives of their
charges, most notably, what they
could do, think and feel, leading
them to live a kind of out of
body life navigation in the world.
"That level of control leaves
many a person scarred for life,
hence otherwise intelligent people
accept to be policed by people of
inferior intelligence and moral
ethics to themselves. This learned
behaviour is an end product of
inability to exercise counter-con-
trol, where yesterday s children
were bullied by teachers and
school peers, they lack means to
tip the imbalance of power."
Of course, all this bullying
from the teachers---because that
is what that child meant when
she said that teachers put chil-
dren down---is not present every-
Of course, there are many,
many excellent teachers in our
schools. But every year I hear of
more and more of them leaving,
and you know what, that bright
13-year-old, who is sparkling in
her foreign school right now,
when she graduates in a couple
years time, she is going to leave
too. She gone. Their gain, our
The cycle the letter writer
referred to continues. The first
thing to correct is to recognise
and acknowledge the problem.
DAVID E BRATT, MD
BULLIES AND COWARDS
Let me repeat that. It's
something I keep hearing
time and time again, first
from my children, now
from many, many other
children. Our teachers,
our schools, put their
students down. Foreign
teachers don't do that.
They support, encourage
and build up the students.
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