Rant: PD classes are triggering, all lives matter and more

As you may or may not know, I (your favorite blogger) am currently a highschool student in Jamaica.  At my highschool, we have a certain subject known as personal development, which is basically a guidance class, it is designed to help us prepare for college, achieve our future goals and is supposed to provide a safe and welcoming atmosphere to voice our thoughts and opinions.  It is usually taken by the form supervisor and occasionally, visitors or the guidance counsellor will come to speak about college plans and such.  Unfortunately, I have taken a strong dislike to the teaching method of said teacher, and as a result I leave the class often more irritated and annoyed than when I went in.  Yesterday was one of the more traumatic incidents, and it moved me to write this mini rant because I was actually severely angered and distressed by what went down.  So here’s the scoop…

Recently, a young man from a prominent Jamaican school was stabbed and killed on the bus on his way home from school.  The incident provoked an outcry among members of the community nearest to said school.  My school also staged a “silent protest” in the form of standing on the road to show solidarity with the other kids from the victim’s school.  Now, the sentiment behind this idea is in the right place, but it was not necessarily effective in stopping the random killing of children.  But I digress, solutions for that problem are another post altogether.  Anyway, the topic came up for discussion in PD class, preceded by a short video giving an amusing analogy for the use of “All Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter”.  Our teacher then proceeded to write “All Lives Matter” on the board with the prompt to discuss.  She then went on to tell us to write an essay based on the prompt on the board.  Now, for us students, PD class is like a “break” from regular classes because we do not normally write extended pieces in this class, since it is mostly discussion based.  You can see then, why we were resentful of her telling us to write an essay that would be collected at the end of class.  To make matters worse, she proceeded to hold a discussion about several topics while simultaneously urging us to “hurry up and write your essays”.  KMT.  Honestly how can you reasonably expect students to concentrate on an essay and participate in a discussion at the same time?  Eventually the topic strayed to the case of a pastor who was with a criminal who turned himself in to the police.  The issue was raised that said pastor had purchased land and had it certified to build a house when in reality he intended to build a church.  So the man breaks the law, builds his church on land certified for a house and basically gets away with it.  Now here’s where it gets triggering and just plain absurd.  Our teacher, who has said to us (and demonstrated) on many occasions that she is a “stickler for rules” was surprised that my classmate referred to this pastor as a crook.  She did not see anything wrong in his actions and said “It’s not a big deal”.  There are so many things wrong with this it would take all the paper in the world to express them all.  The first being that one of  the core values of my school is integrity, the lack of which should not  promoted.  Secondly, she is in a position of authority and it is her role as an educator to, you know, be good people and whatnot.  Think about it, something is very obviously wrong with a teacher telling impressionable teenagers that lying and breaking the law is OK.  So obviously, we the students were protesting and emphasizing the fact that she was defending a crook.  She however was adamant and refused to  accept what we were saying.  The class also got extremely rowdy  since we were all trying to argue with her at once.  Basically, it was complete chaos.

And don’t even get me started on her whole stance on all lives matter.  When she wrote the essay prompt on the board, a student politely and respectfully informed her of the connotations attached to the statement.  She also added that if one uses the statement indiscriminately, people may consider you to  be ignorant, racist or both.  Despite the fact that she nodded and said ok after the student had explained, SHE CONTINUED TO SPOUT HER ALL LIVES MATTER SPIEL!!! Not even an hour after the girl respectfully informed her about the implications of the statement.  Sigh, whaddamess. I also feel like part of the problem is that she doesn’t engage the class effectively so we’re less inclined to pay attention to what she says.  I say this because whenever she asks for our thoughts on something her facial expression is one of stony disinterest.  Clearly that just makes everyone absolutely delighted to share their thoughts with her. *sarcasms intensely*  In general she just comes off like the arctic ocean, cold and constantly salty.  The saddest part is that she teaches a subject that requires a lot of logical thinking  and she has demonstrated   upon multiple occasions that she is incapable of doing that.

I’m sorry if  rant came off as overly salty but it was just weighing on my mind so I figured writing it would make it piss me off less.  Thanks for bearing with me!!!

xD

 

 

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CISOCA missed the point

On Sunday night, I saw a documentary on TVJ about child abuse.  Before this post goes any further I must state two things; 1) child abuse is the unwarranted injuring of a child or otherwise endangering of a child’s life.  And 2) I in no way condone or support child abuse.  Anyway, the documentary featured a single father from an inner city community talking about how he disciplines his son.  He related the story of how he was not in full custody of the child since birth and as a result was not active in instilling a sense of discipline in the child from an early age.  He said that the child’s mother and her family would leave his son at home alone and simply instruct him to stay in the house until they returned from work.  As a result the child spent most of his formative years without any form of discipline or structure from the adults in his life.  The father related his surprise and irritation at the fact that his child’s whereabouts were often unknown, and the offhand manner in which the child spoke to his mother and other female relatives.  He chalked this indiscipline up to the fact that there was no parental guidance being given to the child, and that he had no positive male role model to emulate.  When the child finally went to live with his father at the age of 11 he was disruptive and uncontrollable at school and was the bane of his teachers’ existence.  Now, this is where the plot thickens.  The father had a serious conversation with his son regarding his behavior, saying that, as a child about to enter high school, his actions would not be tolerated and he needs to get his act together.  It must be noted that the father had such conversations on several occasions with the boy, believing that he was  old enough to understand reason.  It is also important to note that the father’s first instinct was not to beat the child but to try to talk to him and reason with him.  Even though he tried to help the boy to the extent of getting him counseling, his behavior got worse.  It got to the point where the father had to be called into the boy’s school because of his transgressions.  The public, humiliating slap that the boy received was a culmination of his father’s anger and frustration at his behavior.  It also seemed to help, as the boy’s behavior and performance seemed to improve in that specific class.  However he continued to misbehave otherwise and fell in with bad company much to his father’s dismay.  Eventually after innumerable instances of misbehavior and lectures, the father could no longer tolerate the boy’s attitude and tied him to a post and beat him savagely.  This is where CISOCA comes in.
CISOCA, or the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse was featured on the documentary condemning the father’s disciplinary methods and calling it child abuse.  While I do agree that his beating the boy was a drastic measure, I sympathize with the father.  From his interview, the audience could tell that he was trying his best to provide structure and a chance for a better life to his son.  He was sending him to school, providing him with his basic needs, unlike many parents.  He also had tried to reason with the boy and help him, doing the best with the tools he had at hand, again, note that beating the son was not his first course of action.  Also, he did not beat the boy maliciously,without cause, or because it made him feel powerful.  He was frustrated and feeling that he had tried his best to go alternative routes resorted to beating to get his point across to the boy.  Now, CISOCA’s stance was that he should be locked up for child abuse, which is where they miss the point entirely.  First of all he isn’t beating the child on a regular basis and he is not doing it out of malice or ill intention for his son.  Secondly, with the resources and education level he has, he had actually tried his best to not resort to physical violence.  And finally, the child is not completely innocent in the situation, his actions were antisocial and disrespectful.  CISOCA  should therefore focus not on the imprisonment of the father but maybe focus their energy on giving him and his son counseling or a therapist so they can find an effective way to resolve the conflict.  Secondly,  emphasis should be placed on educating young people on alternative forms of conflict resolution so that they are better equipped to deal with similar situations when they become parents.  Finally, the child, though not innocent, should be viewed with a sympathetic attitude as his behavior could stem from a past childhood trauma.  That is why counseling or therapy are important steps to recovery for both the father and son.  For the father it will allow him to understand the cause of his son’s behavior and therefore attack the problem at the roots.  For the son, it will help him see the consequences of his actions and perhaps, if his behavior is a result of childhood traumas, he will eventually be able to come to terms with it.  Once again I must say that I don’t condone the father’s savage beating of his child but I don’t think he is unjustified in his actions.  Instead of being so eager to lock this man up, a man who was clearly trying his best to be a good parent and was using what he had available to him to cope with his son’s behavior, CISOCA should be more focused on the actual criminals who hurt children just for the power trip.  They are the ones who need to be locked up, the man in the documentary simply needs counseling.

Comparative Essay- Shabine and Emma

The essay below is a response to the following question:

The short stories “Emma” and “Shabine” both contain children whose lives are affected by the actions of adults. For each story:
a) Explain the situation of each protagonist.

b) Explain how each protagonist deals with their situation.

c) Identify and comment on the significance of one literary device used in each story.

The stories “Shabine” by Hazel Simmons-McDonald and “Emma” by Carolyn Cole both have children who had been affected by the actions of adults.  In “Shabine” the main character Justine is an illegitimate child  of mixed race who is forced to live as a social outcast because her father refuses to recognize her as his child and send her to school.  However, in “Emma” the story is told from the perspective of Dorian (Dory) a little girl who tries to emulate her mother Emma, while trying to understand the game of life.  Both stories use literary techniques to illustrate this.

In “Shabine”, Justine’s mother was Misie Cazaubon’s mistress and she is his illegitimate child.  Madame Cazaubon is aware of this and is exceedingly bitter as a result.  She takes this hurt and frustration out on Justine and her mother but mainly Justine.  She treats Justine as if she were a servant, and encourages her husband to go back on his promise  to send her to convent school.  As a result Justine is uneducated and whatever chance she had at a future is destroyed.  This causes her mother to allow strange men to take advantage of Justine, thus earning her the reputation of being loose.

However, in “Emma”, Dory, is shown love and affection by her mother and is a legitimate child.  Although her father is never present, he ensures she is provided for with material things at least.  Dory’s father, Jack, is having and affair with “the lady at the train station”, much like Misie Cazaubon had an affair with Justine’s mother.  Unlike Madame Cazaubon however, Emma is either oblivious to or in denial of this situation.  When Emma finally accepts this reality, the shock causes her to run into the road into the path of a vehicle, which subsequently kills her.  This causes Dory to be without a mother, and be left in the care of her emotionally neglectful father.  The situation is further compounded by the fact that Mr York gets into a relationship with Maria’s mother, Mrs Robinson.  Unfortunately, she keeps her earlier promise to send Maria off to boarding school to “get her off her hands”, but now Dory is included, since Emma is not there to shield her from Mrs Robinson’s desires.

The reactions of each protagonist are quite different, despite the similarities in their situations.  In “Shabine” Justine is resigned to her fate and does not resist when her mother sells her body to strange men.  This is not entirely perceivable as a weakness in Justine’s character, as it seems her  spirit and will to fight had been broken due to her treatment by Madame Cazaubon.  This seems to have lowered her self esteem and as a result she does not reject the men or try to leave the situation, rather , she ends up getting pregnant for one of them when she is seventeen.  However, when the children are older, she seems to start fighting the people who call her “Jamette” for the sake of her children.  This is seen when she chases away the boys who were taunting her when she sees her children about to fight them off.

In contrast to “Shabine”, Dory and Maria of “Emma” show resolve and determination when they are sent away.  They vow to play the game of life smarter this time so that they will not end up losing like Emma.  This is a difference between them and Justine, as they do not take Mrs Robinson’s punishment readily, but seek to make the best of their situation.  They also vow to make their lives better than Emma’s, unlike Justine whose life is not very much different form that of her mother.  However, this is through no fault of Justine, who is a victim of her circumstances and the actions/ choices of the adults around her.

Both stories make use of literary techniques, such as symbolism and flashbacks.  In “Shabine” the flashback is used to inform the readers of the readers of Justine’s past and how she came to be in her current situation.  The author uses the unnamed persona’s memories to illustrate the relationship between Justine and himself.  In so doing, we are able to better understand why they could not be together, and why Justine’s life was as it is presented in the exposition of the plot.  This technique is effective because it enhances the credibility of the accounts and allows the reader to empathize with the persona and protagonist.

“Emma” on the other hand, makes full use of symbolism in the development of the plot.  The “Little Joker” is well presented here.  In the story, Dory likens Emma’s knowledge of the lady in the train station to her knowing about having the little joker in a card game.  In a card game, the player with the little joker is at a disadvantage.  Hence, by not knowing about her husband’s infidelity, Emma was at a disadvantage,therefore, when she did in fact find out, the shock of the truth causes her to run into the road where she is hit by a car and subsequently killed.  In addition, the resolution of the plot sees Dory receive a pack of cards from emma.  When Emma finds out about the affair and is hit by the car, the deck scatters.  Dory rushes to collect these and manages to retrieve all the cards save for one, the little joker which was near Emma’s lifeless hand.  It is symbolic that Emma had the little joker in her hand when she died, meaning that she had lost the game of life because she had refused to accept her husband’s infidelity.  In other words, she was unaware that she was at a disadvantage (had the little joker) and so she died (lost the game of life).

In conclusion, both short stories deal with children who were affected by the actions of adults.  the authors use the literary techniques of symbolism and the flashback to enhance their stories.  These make each story more interesting and allow the readers to understand the struggles of the protagonists.

©2016 Rajini Coore

Lit Help for CSEC

Hello friends!  CSEC is fast approaching and I kinda forgot that we had like 3 other books to read in addition to the ones we did this year.  As a result, the next few posts will be about these books, which will help everyone involved; I’ll get a chance to review them, and hopefully the content will help your revision.  if this attempt is successful, i may do books from lower grades to reach a wider audience. So anyway, let’s get into the post.

The first piece to be discussed will be “Shabine” from the anthology of short stories “A World Of Prose”

Shabine by Hazel Simmons-McDonald

Characters

  • The unnamed persona of the story, referred to only as He.  Was infatuated by the titular Shabine.
  • Justine, who is a young woman of mixed race, and seems to have a reputation of being a loose woman.  Is also a social outcast because of this.
  • Gold, one of Justine’s sons, is also of mixed race and is presumed half white.  His father is the white sailor the persona sees Justine’s mother ushering into their house.  He has thick, curly reddish hair like Justine’s.
  • Silver, Justine’s second son. Is also of mixed race, but has spiky, short blond hair.
  • Misié Cazaubon, employer of Justine’s mother, also Justine’s father from an illicit affair with her mother, a sore point with his wife, Madame Cazaubon.  Is relatively wealthy and white.
  • Madame Cazaubon, wife of Misié Cazaubon, is bitter about his affair with Justine’s mother and the fact that she and Justine are in her presence constantly to remind her of this.   Takes her anger out on Justine by treating her as a second class citizen and encouraging M. Cazubon not to send her to school.

 

Setting

The story is set in St Lucia, shortly after it gained its independence, so the old mentality of colonialism remains.

Point of View

The story is told from the third person perspective of an unnamed “he” who used to know Justine (the titular Shabine) when they were younger. He used to be infatuated with her, and it was possible that she had feelings for him. However, class and social stigmas prevented them from being together. This perspective is effective, because it allows us to see the events of the past from his perspective, enhancing their credibility. The point of view used also conveys a sense of nostalgia, in “his” memories of the relationship between himself and Shabine, enabling the reader to empathize with the persona.

Themes

One of the themes in the story is racism/ prejudice. Prejudice is a difference in the treatment of a person due to something which makes them different. Racism is prejudice based on skin colour or race. This can be seen in how Justine is ostracized because of her mixed heritage. Her looks set her apart from the other villagers, and make her a target for name calling, boys which pass her taunting her with the name “Shabine.” however, her exotic look makes her attractive to the persona. This situation illustrates the theme of racism, because Justine is treated differently and taunted because she looks different from everyone else.

Another theme in the story is love. Love is genuine, deep feeling of care for another person and can be between family members or lovers. Familial love was shown to Justine by her mother, who stood up for her, and did not allow madame Cazaubon to treat Justine as a servant. Unfortunately, as Justine gets older and matures, her mother essentially invites people, namely men to take advantage of her daughter. The first instance shows love because Justine’s mother was willing to speak up for her daughter, and sacrifice her comforts for her. As abusive as the second situation may have seemed, it may be construed as a twisted kind of motherly love in that Justine’s mother sees that Misie Cazaubon has no intention of sending Justine to convent school. Therefore, she feels that the only alternative for Justine’s future is for her to become a loose woman. By inviting strange men to take advantage of Justine, her mother is preparing her for what seems to be the final solution for her future.

Techniques

One of the techniques used is symbolism. Many names/ items have a double meaning, and are used to enhance the overall story. Some of the symbolic elements include the wall which separates Justin’s house from the persona’s house, and the paradise plums. The wall represents the social barriers imposed upon Justine by a society which refuses to embrace her differences. The paradise plums signify how Justine’s life could have been ‘sweeter’ if she had been allowed to associate with the persona, i.e. she would have had less hardships.

Another technique is irony. Irony is an unexpected outcome. In Shabine, it is ironic that the persona is angry/ upset that Justine and her children are being teased, yet he does nothing to stop it. It is also ironic that the very society which chastised Justine’s behavior and called her “jamette” comprised the very individuals who patronized such loose behavior.

©2016 Rajini Coore

First Post

Hello friends! Welcome to my blog!  If you’re here this early in the game I assume you know me in person so hey! but if you somehow stumbled upon this blog welcome!  This will mainly be a diy/ style blog, but I will also do reviews on various items I have purchased or books I have read.  To start off I think I’ll post about a variety of different topics and then as my following grows (hopefully) I’ll narrow it down and focus mainly on one theme.  So anyway, thanks for visiting and I hope you stick around, this should be fun!