4 2?. 730t
VOLUME 15 No. 1
Copyright reserved, and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.
5. EDUCATION FOR JAMAICA'S NEEDS John Figueroa
34. NEW TRAINING FOR SECONDARY TEACHING C. R. Gray
NOTES AND COMMENTARY:
45. Bi-Lingualism D. G. Wilson
51. Poems for Matson Rolle Charlesworth Ross
55. Reports and Repercussions in West Indian Education 1835 1933
Shirley Gordon R. N. Murray
The Sun's Eye West Indian Writing for Young Readers
Anne Walmsley Mervyn Morris
60. A House for Mr. Biswas
V S. Naipaul Kenneth Ramchand
COVER: U.S. Peace Corps Worker Janet Sledge in a Basic School,
Photo by Michael Whiting
(Kind permission of the Peace Corps)
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PUBLICATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EXTRA-MURAL STUDIES
M. G. Smith: Dark Puritan The life of Norman Paul a healer,
diviner and seer in Grenada, as recorded by M. G. Smith 5/-
louanaloa A St. Lucian Journal 1963 5/-
L. S. Grant: Training for Medicine in the West Indies 1/6
G. P. Chapman: A New Development in the Agronomy of Pimento 1/6
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CARIBBEAN AFFAIRS NEW SERIES
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Agricultural Research in Jamaica (Five papers
from Seminar in 1965 2/-
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University of the West Indies, 1968 5/-
D. Paling and J. L. Fox: The New Mathematics for Primary Teachers:
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Notes On Contributors
Professor JOHN FIGUEROA, head of the Education Department.
U.W.I., allows us to publish here a lengthy paper on the special needs in
Education in under developed areas. It was first presented to the
Jamaica Teachers Associations' Annual General Meeting in 1966.
Mr. CECIL GRAY, lecturer in Education, discusses the changing
emphasis on secondary schooling in developing areas of the Caribbean.
Mr. DONALD WILSON, lecturer in Education, permits the publica-
tion of an excerpt from a talk on one of the major problems of language
teaching in the Caribbean.
Mr. CHARLESWORTH ROSS, writing from Dominica, presents the
English and French versions of his poem on an impressive West Indian
figure and some historical notes on the country Matson Rolle knew
Mr. R. N. MURRAY, Director Institute of Education, U.W.I., reviews
Dr. Shirley Gordon's recent book on West Indian education.
Mr. MERVYN MORRIS, Essayist and Poet, comments on a new
anthology of West Indian writings for schools.
Dr. KENNETH RAMCHAND, who recently joined the Department of
English, U.W.I., offers a searching revaluation of Trinidadian Naipaul's
novel A House for Mr. Biswas.
Education For Jamaica's Needs:
A Special Instance of the Idea of Needs in Education in
A PHILOSOPHER may be either analytic or inspirational. So in-
spirational have some philosophers been that in a Barcelona production
of Oedipus Rex one of the chief characters in the chorus was called
"The Philosopher" or El Borracho, "The Drunk." On this occasion I do
rot intend to be inspirational either with or without the aid of spirits.
I shall be extremely analytical. I wish in fact to examine the theme
"Education for Jamaica's Needs" to see what it might or might not
mean. I am going to do this word by word, and relate my analysis to
the situation in the West Indies as a whole, and to some general
problems in underdeveloped areas.
I. Let us start with EDUCATION. I do not intend to attempt to
define this large concept, and to designate the activities that might be
properly subsumed under it. But I do intend to ask a few questions
about what kind of thing education might be, and might do.
The first question and one which dedicated teachers must
especially and constantly ask themselves is whether education can
do all, or most, of the things expected of it. Can Education really
provide jobs, mineral resources, suitable conditions in the world market
for sugar and bananas? Along the same lines I would ask my second
question: Are human beings and it is these that we are educating
- so constituted that we can expect education to work automatically?
We do speak a great deal about producing different kinds of people:
producing well-rounded personalities, producing skilled labourers, pro-
ducing more and better teachers. And we assume that, at worst, by
exposing people to certain activities and, at best, by involving people
in such activities, we will, more or less automatically, make them into
certain "products." There is a real problem here. "Producing" people
of a certain kind supposing that this can be accurately done is
one thing. Helping them and getting them to remain as they have
been "produced" is another what pressures will society bring to bear;
what motivations will it offer, to help them remain that way?
Obviously we would not be working as educators if we did not
firmly believe that education can have some foreseeable results. But
we must be very careful about thinking that these results are automatic.
As a matter of fact, paradoxically, the better the quality of the educa-
tion the more likely will it be that the so-called products will not be
quite what we expected. Hence one of the fears of true quality in
education. As Buber puts it, the more we win the confidence of our
students, the better they get to know us, and to develop their minds,
the less can we expect them necessarily and regularly to agree with us.
And yet it is almost a definition of the state of being human to say
that it entails learning and the ability to learn. This learning, how-
ever, comes from the person himself not from his teacher; more over
it is occasioned not only by formal education but also by the whole
culture in which a person lives. So that in a way culture is for the
human being what instinct is for some animals. With, of course, the
very important caveat that instincts are apparently unchangeable but
culture changes, even if only slowly.
At the level of skills we probably can expect a fairly exact result
from our teaching and from education in general. But I doubt, despite
what Central Planning Units and Manpower Commissions think, that
skills, in this basic sense, are what places like Jamaica mainly need.
Once we realise the role of general culture in education, and once
we realise that society is educating as well as being educated, we come
to the central problem which we too often ignore. Namely, that if
society Is to be changed by education, then society must change society;
society must change itself. Or more accurately the human beings with-
in any community must set about changing that community; there is
no magic education which somehow arrives solely from outside the
confines of the society we are trying to change. Human kind con-
stitute at the same time the agency for making, and the material out
of which is made, educational change. This simply means that if the
education process is to be quickened, if it is not going to continue at
the slow informal level, then certain human beings, teachers chief
among them must be willing to act on behalf of education, and
certain other human beings must be persuaded, and must be willing,
to take an active part in their own education. In other words while
acknowledging all the great dangers inherent in the idea, we have
nonetheless to acknowledge that, especially in places in which educa-
tion has been scarce for some time, leaders will have to play a major
role. We do need, in this field as in others, true leaders men of
The danger here is that of imposition by one group. It is too great
a danger, especially in places like the Caribbean, not to be taken
seriously. But it will be impossible for society to change itself without
making use of leaders, that is without calling upon those who have
seen more to help others also to see more. Vision is not an automatic
gift in our field, but has to be cultivated. In underdeveloped areas this
need for leadership and the fact that vision is a result of experience
and humility, creates real tensions, and dangerous tensions, because it
is likely that those who have seen more are those who have somehow
got beyond the confines of their present society. They might have
done this by travel, or by reading, or by many of the other mysterious
ways in which the human spirit realises that time and place are
important but not as important as that human kinship which we share
with all human beings.
The parable of Plato's Cave puts this problem well. Let me remind
you of it:
"And now let me show in a figure bow far our nature is enlightened
or unenlightened:- Think of human beings living in an underground
den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along
the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs
and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before
them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads.
Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the
fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you
look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette
players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
Further you will see men passing along the wall, carrying all sorts of
vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and
various materials, which appear over the wall. Some of them are
talking others silent."
And they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another,
which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
That is true, he replied to me. How could they see anything but
the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they
would only see the shadows? And if they were able to converse with
one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was
actually before them? And suppose further that the prison had an
echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy
when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came
from the passing shadow?
No question, he replied.
To them the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of
That is certain, he replied.
And now look again, add see what will naturally follow if the
prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any
of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his
neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp
pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the
realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and
then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an
illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his
eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision -
what will be his reply? And further imagine that his instructor is
pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them,
- will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which
he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to
And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have
a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in
the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be
in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him? ...
And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and
rugged ascent, and held fast until he is forced into the presence of the
sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he
approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to
see anything at all of what are now called realities.
Not all in a moment, he said.
He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world.
And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and
other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he
will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled
heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the
sun or the light of the sun by day?
That is certain, he said.
Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections
of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and
not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is. He will then
proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years.
and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain
way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been
accustomed to behold?
Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about
And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of
the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would
felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
Certainly, he would.
And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among them-
selves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and
to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and
which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw con-
clusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such
honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not
say with Homer,
'Better to be the poor servant of a poor master,'
and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after
Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than
entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.
Imagine once more such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to
be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his
eyes full of darkness?
To be sure, he said.
And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring
the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den,
while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady
(and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight
might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would
say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and
that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried
to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the
offender, and they would put him to death.
No question, he said."
Part of the danger will be met if the leaders constantly learn from
the others; and if leadership is really a matter of having something
to offer, rather than belonging to a certain class or profession. More-
over, those who have had no previous opportunity for education must
be able, as soon as they show their powers, to take over roles of leader-
ship; I think that our community is both promising and worrying in
this respect. We can all think of highly effective and honest leaders
who have come to their positions without aid of class or caste, or much
formal education. On the other hand, in a hitherto uneducated society
the political mechanism based on universal adult suffrage is not likely
to favour as leaders those who have seen the farthest ahead. This is
because in the political field the people who have to support the leaders,
and who have to vote them into office, might have had no opportunity
even to look up to the horizon, let alone to look beyond it.
Education continues to be a scarce commodity in our part of the
It is no wonder that many in our community will find it difficult
to follow, and to co-operate and work with, a leader who is "ahead of
his time." This means that without in any way belittling the profession
of politics we have to make sure that leadership comes not only from
the political level, but also from the professional, the rural, and the
skilled labour and business and management sectors of the society.
Education then is very important but it is not magic; moreover it
certainly is not automatic. Those who have seen outside the cave must
help others to look even if the light is blinding. They have to resist
the temptation to use for their own personal aggrandisement whether
in wealth or political power, the fact that they have seen further and
have actually seen the sunlight. Those who lead in the educational
enterprise have a fine balance to maintain: they must have seen
beyond their society, they must be conscious of the humanity they
share with all human beings; at the same time they must see deeply
into their own society; and they must realise that the universal ex-
presses itself through and in the local.
Especially in matters educational it is very difficult to strike a
balance between the fact that all real education is self education, and
the fact that the single self (whether personal or 'national') is a poor
thing by Itself. It is difficult to realise that at one and the same time,
in this day and age, the whole world is our garden, AND that our
particular corner of the garden needs to be worked.
Finally in Jamaica, and throughout the West Indies, we have the
further complication that our human society is both old and new; in
some things highly developed, in others most underdeveloped.
II. The second word is FOR. Education for Jamaica's needs.
Do we just take it for granted that people ought to be educated for
a country's needs? Is this what we mean? Do we mean "for" or "in"
or "through" or "about" Jamaica's needs? Suppose Jamaica "needs"
to gobble up Haiti, should people be educated to help Jamaica fulfill this
need? We need not tarry long over the word "For" because many of
the questions that could be raised here will in fact be raised later.
At present I would simply like to ask whether it would not be better
to think of education through Jamaica's needs, and education about
Jamaica's needs, rather than education for Jamaica's needs.
III. The third word to analyse in the theme "Education for Jamaica's
needs," is JAMAICA. And here we must ask: Jamaica what is it?
Let me give an example from a lesson which I saw recently. It
was a history lesson with the theme: Was Yassi a Jamaican national
hero? (What a question does any one really need national heroes?)
Yassi, let us recall, was a Spanish General who fought off one of the
early English attacks.
One of the children in the class said that Yassi could not have been
a Jamaican hero because he was a Spaniard. (He added incidentally
that he would have to be English to be Jamaican; which is not quite as
contradictory as it sounds.) Unfortunately for this child, and for the
class, and for the teacher, somebody quickly pointed out that Yassi had
been born in Jamaica. A great deal of confusion ensued. Not, un-
fortunately, moreso than when later on I asked the student teacher.
who had given the lesson, whether at the time about which they had
been speaking Jamaica existed!
There is a certain school of thought which would ask whether Ja-
maica now exists. That is not the question which I wish to address
myself to in this section. What I have in mind is a much more difficult,
and for some people, a much more upsetting question, namely, whether
within the context of national heroes, and all the rest of it, Jamaica
There are many people who would argue that Jamaica did not exist
at the time of Yassi in any other than a geographical sense. There are
many who would argue that similarly Jamaica does not now exist. By
this, I think, they would mean that there is no real community in
Jamaica. That it is a plural society in M. G. Smith's sense in Jamaica,
they would argue, groups of people with what are basically different
value patterns and different cultures live side by side rather than
together in a community. Obviously there is some commonality of
values among these various groups of people but, it is argued, there is
not enough of a commonality to make up one country, or in fact one
community. To this sort of argument many would reply that there
should be a community; and that when they take up what looks like a
narrowly nationalistic stance they do so only in order to promote the
existence of a community.
The trouble is that the question ought to be not whether a com-
munity should exist, but rather what kind of community should exist.
Need community be based on the nationalistic model which is one of
Inward looking and outward hating? Further in order to develop a
feeling of community need we at the same time develop delusions of
grandeur? Need our community be of such a kind that its members
have no other reason for being than that of belonging to that com-
munity? One has even heard nationalists argue that it is a pity that
we did not have to fight with bullets for our independence because had
this been necessary we would have, by its very necessity, been bound
together as a community. We are told, often, that there is nothing like
an outward enemy to an inward community. But is community worth
purchasing at the price of hatred? Or rather, what kind of community
is so purchased? Need we really feel that in the modern world the
basis of a man's existence must be that of his belonging to a certain
nation state? Boulding sums up the situation well especially in the
last sentence of the following quotation:
.One of the main purposes of national education is to distort
the image of time and space in the interests of the nation. The
school atlases have one's own nation large and others small. The
school history books have the history of one's own nation large
and of others small. It is the history teachers above all who
create the image of the Englishman, the German, the American.
or the Japanese. This also is an important source of war.
(Boulding, The Image)
I repeat: "This also is an important source of war."
It is very important in this matter, and in all matters of education,
to remember that the process whereby any end is achieved is every
bit as important as the end to be achieved. As a matter of fact the
very nature and quality of the end is determined by the means used
to gain that end. So that the kind of community which we eventually
achieve must be determined by the means which we use to achieve the
One of the more direct and materialistic modern Americans gained
a great deal of fame, whether inadvertently or not, by the statement
that what is good for General Motors is good for the U.S.A. He was,
of course, not unconnected with General Motors. Do we in the develop-
ing countries wish to say the equivalent of "what is good for Jamaica
is good enough for its citizens?" Or do we want to say "What is good
for human beings is the only thing that is good enough for Jamaicans?"
Certainly this is a very central question to which we must address our
minds once we start planning education on a nationalist rather than
regional or human basis.
Is the arbiter of all values for human beings who live within the
geographical unity known as Jamaica to be the fact that they are
Jamalcans? Further, does our special experience in the Caribbean of
the human condition allow us to believe that a more or less artificial
political creation can be the basis of human values. Put it another way.
When Yassi, along with his African slaves, was fighting the English
general whose army no doubt included many of the English lower
orders, how were human values to be determined? Were they to be
determined for Yassi by his Spanish heritage, or by the fact that he
was born in Jamaica? Were they to be determined for the English by
the fact that they were born in that island in the North Sea? How
was it to be determined for the slaves who fought vigorously for their
masters? Was there no general human basis? And had not the fact
of Spain as a nation, and England as a nation just as clearly distorted
human values, as did the institution of slavery, or of powerful class
lines? Need we continue this sort of madness in the modern world by
insisting on "The nation this" and "The nation that"?
I take it that you realise that this is not a new point of view that I
am putting even if in some circles it might not be a very popular
point of view. Robert Ulich of Harvard University has the following
say, for instance -
though for a treatise on education, especially in its modern
phases, the concept of nations recommends itself as the organis-
ing category (for it is within them that school systems and their
ideals develop) this concept is nevertheless deceptive. For
history has not merely divided humanity into separate units;
it has also created the world of civilized man."
(Robert Ulich, Education of Nations,
Harvard U.P., 1961 pf. viii)
And he notes elsewhere in connection with the more universalist
attitudes which have existed in the world from time to time,
"The second reason for the rapid ascension of thought in the
thirteenth century was the opportunity for exchanging ideas.
How uniform must have been the life in one of the old isolated
monastries, despite a sometimes precious library, in comparison
with the intellectual striving at the University of Paris. There
we find the famous Englishmen, Bonaventura, Roger Bacon,
William of Occam, the Italian Thomas Aquinas, the Belgian
Siger of Brabant, the Scotch Duns Scotus, but not a single
Frenchman, among the doctors who made the university so
great that for the French it was as much an object of pride as
the papacy for the Italians or the empire for the Germans."
Clearly "Jamaica" cannot mean now what it meant in Yassi's time
But much more important is that in this day and age the quality of the
meaning of "nation" must be relevant to the twentieth century, not to
the nineteenth, or the eighteenth. The tribal concept of nation -
what Barbara Ward calls the "inward looking/outward hating" is not
only outmoded, it is a source of authoritarian government within, and
of world tensions (eventually leading to war) without.
Too many adventures of the human spirit have taken us out of
primitive times for us, emerging into political independence now, to
attempt to bolster up our humanity with a world view which really
has its roots in those ages of darkness when man had to look inward
to the dark forest, and had to suspect the stranger, the foreigner, or
when man despaired as Plato tended to do of man's ability to rule
himself, and so sought solace in authoritarianism at home, and isola-
tion from other people in the wide world. Our world view, and there-
fore our view of the meaning of a term like Jamaica, has to be different
now that no part of the world is unknown, and that the universe itself
is being explored by us men.
To quote Boulding once again:
.The invention of latitude and longitude reduced the
multi-directional space of earlier days to two simple directions,
north-south, east-west. The gradual exploration of the globe
leads to a closure of geography. This has profound effects upon
all parts of the image. Primitive man lives in a world which
has a spatial unknown, a dread frontier populated by the heated
imagination. For modern man the world is a closed and com-
pletely explored surface. This is a radical change in spatial
viewpoint. It produces effects in all other spheres of life.
(Kenneth Boulding, The Image)
Of course we all live in communities, and sheer individualism is
as bankrupt as it is impossible. Good common sense, as well as Christ-
ian teaching, must persuade us to love our neighbour. Community is
important, perhaps in the present dispensation 'nation' is necessary to
guarantee community, or to cultivate it, but it should do nothing but
encourage world community the community of man.
The Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around. What
is good for human beings is good for Jamaicans. NOT "what is good
for Jamaica is good for the human beings who live in Jamaica." It is
not so much that Jamaica has needs, as that human beings will have
to use, with respect, and to develop with care, what Jamaica has to
offer towards the fulfilment of human needs.
The difficulty here is one of level. At what level are we discussing
needs? Certainly we need many more jobs, but we also need to get
rid of the "Anancy" mentality. Do we put these needs on the same
level? We need further education in order to know what are the needs
for education. We need to increase our wealth; we need to save our
souls; we need honest men in public life. We need people who can
write and speak straightforward and understandable English. We need
better artists and a better living for them. We need more teachers,
and better teachers. We need more mechanisation. And so on!
If we think solely in the educational sector, we need, I would say,
not first of all teachers, but trainers who will help prepare and produce
the teachers. I think we are as far back as that unless we face
that this is our true situation we do not really have to consider our
needs because they will catch up with us and engulf us soon enough.
Alvan Eurich, when one of the leaders of the Ford Foundation,
said of American schools that "they needed more money but they also
needed more than money." If this is true of schools in a wealthy
nation, it is axiomatic of schools in the Caribbean Area. But it is
important that we realise that both parts of his statement are true: we
need more money, but certainly we need more than money. It is
necessary to give some figures which stress the point that education
in Jamaica needs more money.
First of all let me say that much of the criticism which comes from
teachers today about present plans for education seems to me slightly
unrealistic, and slightly unfair. The shortage of money for education
is nothing new: for instance, between the years 1959 and 1961, inclusive,
the expenditure for education by the government, when taken as a
percentage of the national income, remained at 2.8%. It was increased
in 1962 to 2.9% an increase of less than 4%. It seems to me hardly
reasonable to expect that this enormous backlog of ineffectual spend-
ing on education can be made up all of a sudden, or even in a very short
time. We all see the urgency, but must realise that 150 years cannot
be corrected in 5.
(Never the less, the following figures for 1967, the year in which this
paper was delivered, are interesting:)
Gross National Total Govt. Expend. Percentage
Product on Education of G.N.P.
JAMAICA 336.5 m. 8.99 m. 2.96
TRINIDAD $1,326.5 m. $8.459 m. 6.37
But let me remind you further that we come from a tradition in
which public expenditure on public education has not until recently
been the general practice. As long ago as the time of the Negro Educa-
tion Act, the Parliament of the United Kingdom granted by that Act
considerably more money than it would grant for education within the
United Kingdom. Shortly after that Act, in 1844, to be exact, Horace
Mann, reporting to the Board of Education, New York, had this to say:
"England is the only one among the nations of Europe, conspicuous for
its civilization and resources, which has not, and never had, any system
for the education of its people." He goes on to point out that few
countries have had so many bequests and donations for education but
that the public system of education was so much what he terms "a
no-system" that the education was Ineffective.
Likewise Carlyle said with reference to the 20,000 granted by the
United Kingdom government in 1833 towards the public education of
its citizens, "in the largest Empire of the world, it is a debate whether
a small fraction of the revenue of one day shall, after 13 centuries, be
laid out" on education. He goes on to point out that if education con-
tinued to be ignored and undersupported "these 24,000,000 labouring
men. will burn ricks and mills, reduce us, themselves, and the world
into ashes and ruin. What intellect were able to regulate them, the
intellect of a Bacon, the energy of a Luther, if left to their own strength,
might pause in dismay before such a task, a Bacon and Luther added
together, to be perpetual Prime Minister over us, could not do it." (i.e.
regulate the chaos ensuing from a lack of education).
This is the tradition in which we have been working. And mere
political independence cannot give us by itself freedom from this
Here it is that we see that education for Jamaica's needs is a
slightly delusive idea. Because the needs which have arisen arise
partly because of the kind of education we have been having. Although
they also arise out of the general tradition in which we have been
operating. So that it is not only education for our needs that is
important, but education about our needs.
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
TABLE 1 SOME JAMAICA GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES FOR
Category Amount Per Cent Amount Per Cent Amount Per Cent
Administration 183,868 3.2 183,868 2.8
Primary 3,365,402 57.8 281,849 38.8 3,647,251 55.8
Secondary 1,305,440 22.4 200,220 27.6 1,505,660 23.0
Teacher-Training 343,013 5.9 42,604 5.9 385,617 5.9
and Trade 373,151 6.5 80,705 11.1 453,856 6.9
Higher Education 165,059 2.8 63,270 8.7 228,329 3.5
Public Libraries etc. 81,460 1.4 57,000 7.9 138,460 2.1
TOTALS 5,817,393 100.0 725,648 100.0 6,543,041 100.0
Note that 89% = current expenditure; only 11% spent on school buildings.
TABLE 2 EXPENDITURE FOR EDUCATION IN JAMAICA AS A PER CENT
OF NATIONAL INCOME, 1959-1962.
Per Cent of
Millions of Pounds National Income
Year National Income Expenditures Spent by Govt.
for Education for Education
1959 188.6 5.3 2.8
1960 204.6 5.7 2.8
1961 217.1 6.1 2.8
1962 225.1 6.6 2.9
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
TABLE 3 EXPENDITURE ON EDUCATION IN RELATION TO GROSS
NATIONAL PRODUCT FOR SELECTED COUNTRIES, 1960.
Public Expenditure on Education
Country as a percentage of G.N.P.
United States 4.53
Costa Rica 3.95
United Kingdom 3.67
Dominican Republic 1.41
Policy makers in many countries are aiming for an allocation of 5 per cent of the
gross national product to education by 1980. Some countries in Africa have already
exceeded 5 per cent; at recent conferences in Africa and Asia this figure has been
considered a suitable target.
TABLE 4 ESTIMATES OF TOTAL AND PER CAPITAL GROSS DOMESTIC (1)
PRODUCT FOR SELECTED COUNTRIES: EXPRESSED IN U.S. DOLLARS,
1953, 1958 AND 1962.
Domestic Product at Factor Cost
Country (Millions of Dollars) Per Capita (Dollars)
1953 1958 1962 1953 1958 1962
Panama 257 356 489 287 348 429
Jamaica 349 614 683 235 398 418
Costa Rica 201 270 331 227 251 260
Dominican Republic 380 526 689 161 188 214
Honduras 239 306 379 160 177 194
(1) Yearbook of National account Statistics 1963, United Nations, New York, 1964.
Table 3B, p. 328.
Table 1 above sets out the government expenditure for education.
in 1963/64. Two comments are necessary. First, in Jamaica as in
many other underdeveloped areas, the government is not the sole
supporter of education. In British Honduras, for instance, the total
government expenditure on education is 1.4 million B.H. dollars. But
the grand total spent on education, including sums by churches, by the
private sector, and allowing for volunteers from overseas, is of the order
of 2.4 million. So that the government expenditure represents about
1 m. dollars less than the total expenditure of 2.4 million. Of course,
British Honduras is in a sense a special case, because the Government
gives little assistance to secondary education, leaving it for the most
part to the churches.
The second remark to be made about Table 1 above is that a com-
paratively small percentage was spent in 1963/64 on capital matters,
including school buildings. This to some extent explains why at present
such a large sum has to be put in this category.
Table 2 merely underlines what is said above about the lack of
increase in percentage of national income spent by government over a
period of years which should have been witnessing large expansion in
Table 3 speaks for itself. It underlines the fact that the highly
developed countries are spending on education a higher percentage of
their national income than are underdeveloped countries, yet, under-
developed countries, one would have thought, need education, and need
at least the same level of spending unless they wish to remain under-
developed. We have noted that although there can be no hard and
fast rule in this matter, the feeling in such bodies as UNESCO, and at
recent conferences held in Africa and Asia is that underdeveloped
countries will, by 1980, have to allocate 6% of their gross national pro-
duct to education. Trinidad, be it noted, is now spending 4% of its
G.N.P. on education.
Table 4 offers an interesting contrast with Table 3. Whereas
Panama has the highest per capital income it spends a smaller percent-
age of the G.N.P. than Costa Rica on education. Notice also that
although Jamaica is second in the per capital list it spends less than
Costa Rica on its education.
It is very important to say in all this that the growth rates of both
Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have been remarkably high during
the periods 1954/60. Even when allowances are made for the fact that,
in estimating the gross domestic product, extraction of mineral wealth
plays an important part in both of these countries, I think it fair to
say that the rate of growth, when computed in connection with the
real gross domestic product, is most remarkable. And all those
responsible for this deserve our acknowledgment. We have to ask, how-
ever, whether expenditure on education is in the case of Jamaica in
any sense keeping up with the growth rate of the economy. This is a
particularly important question in connection with Jamaica, where, as
we all know, the distribution of wealth is, to put it mildly, rather uneven.
The figures mentioned above show how little change there was
over a period of years in connection with the increase of the percent
of national income spent by government for education. I would like to
mention a few other figures with respect to the money spent on educa-
tion. I am mentioning these because the politicians understandably
say that the cake which is to be cut is of a limited size, and therefore
education cannot expect to get more than a certain amount, because it
cannot get more than a certain percentage of the whole cake. There
are two points to be made: first, even admitting a small cake, education
is not getting quite the slice that it should; second, it does appear that
the cake can be somewhat enlarged.
According to the UNESCO Report on education in Jamaica a
report which is still being held as confidential, which has not yet been
released for public consumption recent conferences in Asia and Africa
have been suggesting the figure of 5% of the gross national product for
expenditure on education. Certainly the Final Report of the Addis
Ababa Conference (May 15-25, 1961) has this to say on page 23, Chap. IV:
14. The Commission realized that if the educational goals
set forth are to be realized, Member States and Associate Mem-
bers in Africa, should make every effort to raise the percentage
of their national income earmarked for financing education
from 3% to 4% between 1961 and 1965, from 4% to 6% between
1970 and 1980.
Further on page 29 Chap. IV, it presents the following table we
have reproduced only columns 1 & 5, as being especially relevant to us:
PROJECTIONS OF NATIONAL INCOME AND EDUCATION RESOURCES
AND COSTS 1960 1980.
Estimated Estimated Total estd. Excess of Total estd.
national resources educ. costs costs over educ. costs
income for educ. resources as percentage
Millons of Dollars national
1961 15,031.0 3.9
1962 15,632.2 4.2
1963 16,257.5 5.0
1964 16,907.8 5.5
1965 17,584.1 6.5
1970 21,797.6 8.6
1980 36,795.6 7.0
Extract Final Report of the Addis Ababa Conference (May 15-25, 1961)
It is also worth noting that the U.K. and the U.S.A. at present spend
very heavily on arms. Jamaica, and other West Indian territories, do
not, and need not, do this.
Further, as is mentioned elsewhere, any estimate of Jamaica's
wealth at present takes into account the Bauxite Industry which
extracts irreplaceable wealth. In a sense in respect of Bauxite we are
in "boon" days for the deposits cannot last forever. Should we not
at present, while the going is not too rough, put extra money into
education? If in the boon days of sugar and rum we had invested
heavily in education we hardly invested at all! then we would be
much better off now. Education did not profit markedly from the
success in sugar and rum just after the 1914-18 war; likewise at present
instead of spending more of our income while we have some on
education, we are, for the most part, taking on loans, at fairly high
interest rates, without a matching contribution from our own revenues.
CURRENT EXPENDITURE AS % OF GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT.
6. Public Works
9. Water Supplies
10. Land Settlement
17. Agricultural Subsidies
18. Social Insurance
20. Public Debt.
S z w U z A
3.87 3.17 3.09 1.42 2.77 2.56 2.89 3.24 3.26 3.76 3.23 3.32 2.36 2.92 3.07 2.40
1.70 2.39 .77 .78 2.94 3.06 1.99 2.19 1.68 2.99 2.24 1.97 3.47 2.68 4.27 2.40
1.28 1.06 .44 .53 2.07 1.23 2.06 1.93 .84 2.08 2.46 1.62 3.28 3.42 2.57 .92
.71 .74 .22 .23 .51 .92 .82 .87 .39 .55 1.13 .78 .70 1.18 1.05 .63
.59 .37 .12 .31 .83 .41 .68 1.09 1.00 .75 .89 .86 .10 .72 .45 .27
.74 .96 .53 .53 .55 .55 .50 .35 .79 1.01 .80 .82 .94 .03
1.09 .86 .41 .23 .43 .80 .58 .46 .23 .61 .55 .23 .24 .54 .72 .23
.02 .24 .24 .05 .55 .13 .08 .10 -
.14 .44 .07 .16 .27 .09 .32 .02 .05 .32 .14 .23 .08
.33 .35 .10 .57 .18 .30 .28 .38 .34 .25 .45 .24 -
.03 .07 .06 .01 .14 .03 .02 .03 .04 -
.05 .27 .05 .20 .11 .04 .12 .16 .12 .29 .16 .21 .17 -
.02 .05 .06 .02 .12 .07 .36 .09 .37 .02
.09 .08 .02 .02 .04 .01 .06 .03 .02 .01 .06 .01
.07 .08 .13 .05 .04 .05 .08 .14 .08 .12 .12 .28 .30 .08
.02 .05 .01 .10 .24 .02 .10 .11 .69 .18 .13 .17
.13 .04 .46 .14 .50 .16 .79 1.98 1.87 .09 .64
.50 .60 .18 1.24 .43 1.07 1.26 .56 4.33 1.17 3.51 5.84 7.98 5.59 3.49
.27 .45 1.91 .50 .49 .48 .14 .06 1.43 5.33 .03 9.49 9.89 3.74 3.74 13.90
.33 .43 .60 .14 1.06 .40 1.35 1.03 1.39 1.97 1.13 1.97 4.77 2.76 .81 2.16
11.91 12.26 8.84 4.98 14.42 12.20 13.08 14.29 11.80 24.58 15.54 25.76 34.00 30.12 23.49 27.43
CAPITAL EXPENDITURE AS % OF GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT.
6. Public Works
9. Water Supplies
10. Land Settlement
17. Social Insurance
.32 .34 .01 .09 .36 .58 .06 .64 .05 .47 .06 .13 .14 .36 .27
1.02 .97 .02 .30 .43 1.29 .60 .46 1.02 .37 1.24 .54 .09 .76 1.64 .90
.12 .19 .29 .47 1.09 2.49 .43 .76 .46 .82 .24 .96 .59 1.29 2.89 .08
.10 1.01 .28 .42 .39 .25 .45 .36 1.18 .43 .55 .40 .35 .16 .01
.38 .80 .02 .06 1.15 1.00 .54 .74 .34 .87 .06 .57 .04 .59 .32 .24
- .03 .32 1.55 .22 1.01 .47 .21 .10 .09 -
.80 .46 .68 .17 .12 .75 .30 .10 .18 1.81 .15 .35 .10 1.57 .31
.03 .09 .01 .15 .03 .09 .08 .44 .13 .45 -
- .01 .01 .11 -
- .03 .38 .25 1.04 .49 .09 .21 .58 1.48 .11 1.70 .35 -
- .02 .01 .09 .38 .01
.02 .05 .06 .01 .01 .23 .03 .06 .14 -
- .01 .01 -
.24 .76 .29 .71 .72 .72 .21 1.82 2.38 1.38 1.52 .16
- .05 .02 .12 -
.02 .10 .10 .10 .26 .13 1.18 .46 2.90 1.38
3.98 6.81 2.30 2.40 7.45 8.24 4.04 5.96 3.21 5.55 5.51 8.11 5.37 8.27 13.99 4.26
REVENUE SOURCES AS % OF GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT.
1. Income Tax
2. Social Insurance
3. Land Tax
4. Death Duties
5. Export Duties
6. Import Duties
7. Excise Duties
8. Motor Licences
9. Govt. Dept. Earnings
10. Miscellaneous Fees
5.21 3.34 1.61 1.75 4.72 2.73 3.24 6.97 2.78 4.54 6.08 7.82 13.52 10.41 16.75 15.86
.07 .26 .04 .07 .37 .48 3.39 6.40 .53 2.78
.78 .35 .90 .19 .42 .70 .87 .48 1.15 1.22 .56 .97 2.92 2.19 2.18 2.84
.05 .02 .09 .13 .11 .29 .96 .23 .20 1.16 1.12 -7 .34
.12 7.02 .39 2.07 5.78 8.95 .66 .04 1.07 .04 .08 .56 -
2.69 3.34 1.14 2.44 5.02 5.77 4.39 5.53 1.95 .20 3.56 1.91 6.92 2.44 1.12 .18
1.37 1.26 2.14 .76 1.10 1.52 3.07 2.02 4.23 9.07 3.28 12.09 4.82 4.43 5.25 5.05
.23 .09 .12 .12 .20 .16 .16 .13 .11 .26 .29 .08 .49 .88 .52 .44
.50 .81 .86 .40 .27 .42 .32 .52 .48 3.02 .36 .98 2.13 2.62 2.02 .45
.97 .57 1.02 .29 1.23 .93 .96 1.06 1.84 2.53 1.14 3.21 .60 1.70 3.64 1.14
.24 .34 .10 .39 .26 .98 .07 .19 .29 .19 1.08 1.14 .99 .57 .23
12.23 17.14 8.28 8.41 19.35 22.20 13.28 17.67 12.87 23.53 15.73 28.90 37.09 33.18 33.31 29.31
The preceding statistics are here relevant. They are divided into
two sections, the first consists of Extracts from an article entitled
"Patterns of Public Revenue and Expenditure" by Alison M. Martin and
W. A. Lewis, which appeared in issue No. 3, September 1956, of
Manchester School Economic and Social Studies, Vol. XXIV published
by the Department of Economics of University of Manchester, 1956.
The second contains some more recent statistics concerning expendi-
tures on Jamaican education.
All statistical studies have to be done with the greatest care, and
are open to various interpretations. The information from the article
by Martin and Lewis is given because it is interesting in itself, but more
because it suggests a model for future studies of education in places
like the Caribbean.
These tables are taken from the article by Martin and Lewis
and are worth careful study, even though they are ten years old,
for they suggest the kind of study which is badly needed. They also
show the situation from which we are trying to move. Moreover, table
B suggests some answer to those people who keep pointing to the small-
ness of the cake, and to the fact that education must be satisfied with
the slice which it receives from the cake. You will notice that there
are 16 countries listed and the first six, from the point of view of collect-
ing, as revenue, a high percentage of gross national product, are such
old and well-established countries as the United Kingdom, Sweden, New
Zealand, the U.S.A., France, Italy in that order. Notice that this is not
a question of socialism as against capitalism because the United States
ranks fourth on this list and is in fact not far behind Sweden and New
Zealand which rank second and third respectively.
From the point of view of Jamaica, the interesting thing is that we
rank twelfth on this list below Trinidad, and above India and Nigeria.
Certainly we can ask the question whether, especially for a developing
country, we are collecting enough revenue. But even more interesting
than this is the top line which refers to the income tax collected as a
percentage of gross national product. You will notice that here the
highest percentage is collected by Sweden, the next highest by the
United States of America, the third .highest by the United Kingdom.
We rank very low in this particular category, but rank very high in the
category represented by items 6 and 7. In other words indirect taxa-
tion represents nearly half of our total revenue, whereas it represents
in the United States at the Federal level at any rate, about one-sixth
of their revenue, and in the United Kingdom about one-fourth. So that
it would appear that not only can the cake be enlarged, but that the
recipe for making it could be considerably changed.
If the cake is enlarged and education is given a slice of that cake
more in keeping with modern ideas on what a country's investment in
education ought to be, we will have received, in part, the more money
to which Eurich referred. We must now give some attention to the
more than money which we need.
Here once again one has to say that there is such a variety of needs
that it is difficult to begin to list them, let alone to make up any
hierarchy of needs. I can only deal with a few.
The first is a need for change in our image of authority. In too
many under-developed areas, not least of all our own, the image of
authority is closely related to what is thought to have been the
structure of authority under the old type of governor. To put it
differently: a person at present in authority aims to emulate, it seems
to me, what he believes used to be the behaviour of the colonial
governor. But there are severe problems about this. Though the
Governor was not necessarily committed to the area in which he was
operating, the Governor was a career civil servant, and was answerable
to certain things with regard to the furtherance of his career, if nothing
else. Did not Swettenham have to resign after the 1907 earthquake and
the incident with the U.S.A.?
Further we seem to be ambivalent about authority. One of the
most remarkable things that I have read in this connection was written
by a political reporter of a newspaper. He said, some time ago, that
it was a mark of the 'colonial mentality' not to take from a Minister
of Education, duly elected, what people used to take from a 'Director
of Education.' Heaven help us, isn't it just the opposite? Is not one
of the important reasons for having got rid of appointed directors of
education from the U.K. or from Metropolitan countries the fact that
we were often servile in their presence, and that they often acted in an
authoritarian manner? Would it not be the height of colonialism now
to be servile towards the people that have taken the place of Directors
of Education? Apparently, such is our image of authority, and of
politics, and society that we do not wish to get rid of masters but to
swap them! Have you watched carefully the actions and statements,
not only of people in authority in our community, but also of others in
relation to those in authority?
I once took part in a conference held in Jamaica some years ago
on the setting up of television facilities. This topic was going to be
discussed, along with its social and educational uses, by experts in the
field. But a certain minister of Government, who was invited simply
to open the Conference, not only laid down the law, but brought along
with him a detailed list of even the films which he said should be used
on T.V. He could not, you see, envision his role of authority as relating
to high, general government policy matters; and then leave the detail
and the technical working out to the people in the field. How could
he, then, even think of listening to them in matters of policy? I trust
that you realise that this is not particular to any one man or one
minister, or to any one Party, or to any one Government, or to any one
territory in the Caribbean. I myself first met this attitude, clearly
expressed, in quite a small place in the West Indies where there were
three ministers, and where each one of the three ministers was behaving
in the way in which he thought the last really imperial governor
behaved. Not only did each minister dress like the last colonial
governor I don't think that that is very important but he thought
powers of a minister were exactly those of the powers of a man whom
he would have called a 'foreign imperialist overlord.' So he had been
elected by the people now to have the right, suitable and proper, of an
imperialist, but not a foreign overlord.
This Is the problem in every so-called under-developed territory,
and It is an extremely difficult problem, because along with all the
developments had to go, rightly had to go, the whole business of political
power in the hands of the masses. If, therefore, the masses have not
had the opportunity, whether through education or through anything
else, to know what are the uses and the dangers and the good things
about political power, then this very situation is always going to
encourage an authoritarian attitude, and authoritarian activities on the
part of those who are in authority.
So that is one of our needs a change in our image of authority.
It is a need shared with all other Caribbean countries, and with all
What do we mean by authority? How is it exercised how is it
properly exercised? Do we intend that all the citizens should really
take part as much as is possible in decision-making with regard to
Government, or is it simply that we must put up with certain things
from our own people, because they are our own people, even though we
agree that we object to putting up with exactly those things from
others? We will have to change and develop our ideas on authority.
In a matter as important as this, education should clearly have a
major role to play; although it Is important to stress once again that
other agencies in the society would have also to play their part. If
education is to help us to have a different attitude to authority then
all of us who teach or administer will have to realise that the change
in attitude is demanded from us. It is not a matter of teaching child-
ren about authority; it is a matter of making sure that in our schools,
and throughout our educational system, they experience a certain
attitude to authority.
It is quite clear that no society can function without the exercise
of authority, but the quality of the exercise of that authority, and the
quality of the participation in that exercise, is paramount. A school
which is organised in an authoritarian way cannot be expected to pro-
duce anything but authoritarians on the one hand and servile people
on the other. The teaching profession must be very careful that in
struggling against what it might consider, whether wrongly or rightly,
unsatisfactory authority, it does not simply put itself in the place of
the former authority. "Call no one Rabbi" is an excellent summary of
one aspect of the attitude which is necessary in respect of authority in
society. If we really mean it, we cannot mean "Call no one Rabbi -
How can one say that authority is essential to society and at the
same time evince the attitude summarised by "Call no one Rabbi"? The
answer to this question is in the concept of Law. The concept of a
rational law which is discoverable by thinking people, and to which
thinking people will be willing to make an appeal, and by which they
will be willing to settle their differences.
This leads us to the second big attitude change about which I would
like to speak, i.e. our attitude to the Rule of Law. This is of course
not a new question. Long ago Plato put it this way: "The government
is not to be entrusted to any one because of considerations of birth or
wealth, but for personal character and fitness for ruling, and the rulers
must be subject to the law. "The State in which the law is above the
rulers, and the rulers are the inferior of the law, has salvation and
every blessing which the gods can confer." (Quoted by Copleston, in
A History of Philosophy, Vol. 1, p. 261) The idea of Law and of natural
law, Is a difficult concept and not very much in favour in the modern
world, especially in the Anglo-Saxon culture. What I have in mind
bears little connection to what is often called "a respect for law and
order." Of course we need respect for law and duly constituted
authority. But the usual "law and order" idea is too often heavily
authoritarian. It too often tends towards a sort of fascist attitude
whereby the police force and the army are considered to be the true
guardians of society.
What I have in mind is rather what is sometimes called "The
Authority of the situation. That is to say, when rational people of
good will disagree even on basic matters, they can look at the whole
situation and try to work out what is demanded of them in the situa-
tion. They find themselves responding not to the authority of each
other, or of the State, but to the authority of the situation. That is to
say, they respond to the principles which their common rational beings
can discover in the situation. Having said this, however, one has to
admit that the attitude of many of the floor members at recent teachers
meetings in Jamaica were a little bit disconcerting. Little willingness
was evinced, it seemed, of a real desire to listen. But the willingness
to listen even to those opinions which annoy us, to those people whom
we distrust and dislike, is absolutely to be cultivated especially if we
are even to speak about the authority of the situation.
It will be seen that this is the direct opposite of what is often meant
by the rule of law in newly developing societies.
To read newspapers in such societies one would gather that the
duly constituted authority, whether constituted by free election, or by
any other means, once it is duly constituted has the right to demand
complete obedience for any kind of law that it might see fit to pass.
This is an extremely dangerous and totalitarian view of democracy. It
is often supported on the grounds that the representatives whom the
people have elected must rule, and have every right to rule. It is
sometimes bolstered up by statements to the effect that no court of
law can reverse what the Parliament of the people has enacted. This
of course makes nonsense of any idea of either common law or Roman
law, or of constitutional guarantees or of the division of powers within
a society a division at which most non-Utopian constitutions have
aimed. This matter is bound to touch education very closely because
education can on the whole tend towards either of two extremes. It can
tend either toward a pure conditioning, whereby one does, sometimes
according to one's taste, sometimes according to the stimulus received,
an action in a more or less unquestioning way. The other extreme is
at the rational end of the continuum whereby one analyses the reasons
for performing any action, or taking any stand, or at least admits that
these are open to rational analysis. And the importance of this open-
ness to examination and analysis is not lessened by the fact, as M.
Palenyi puts it, that we know more than we can tell!
Human life is so complex that no doubt either extreme is workable:
some things we must deal with on the level of conditioning and of pure
habit; some things on the level of pure rationality. But I would argue
that at least the human being must realise that at any point in the
continuum rationality, and questioning and enquiry and research, may
be brought into play, and often must be.
Teachers will immediately realise, I am sure, how what has just
been said can affect every single situation in a classroom, and every
single situation in society. Do we convey to our students that whatever
we might be learning and teaching together is open to discussion, is
open to enquiry, is open to rational justification? Do we make sure
to teach the most important lesson of all, namely, that what the teacher
considers ought to be done is so considered, and thereby so recommend-
ed, because of reasons which the teacher and any other rational person,
would accept? Or would at least discuss rationally?
"What I am asking you to do I think ought to be done because I
can show good reason for this. Because I know that it is good." Rather
than "Because I am asking you to do this, and for no other possible
reason, you must do it; because I ask you to do it, it is good"!
I am not belittling the role of taste, of emotions, or trust, of the
aesthetic side. I am merely saying that it is most important, parti-
cularly in societies which are of a mixed cultural heritage, to be able
to realise the importance, and the feasibility, of appealing to the
authority of the situation; of realising in this sense that we must all
be governed by the rule of law; and that none of us, politician or
teacher, is above that rule. However, we have to understand that the
basis for the laws of a country must be this idea of rational law; it
cannot be the other way round. The mere enactment by any assembly
anywhere of slavery for the population cannot be accepted on the
grounds that the duly constituted representatives of the people have so
I warned at the beginning that education cannot do all the things
that are expected of it. One might feel that in the matter of authority
and the rule of law it cannot do a great deal. Obviously many other
things in the society, including the press, games, and public acts of
ritual, must all play their part. However, I do know that it is only too
easy for the schools to encourage a completely wrong and service view
towards authority, and towards Law. By the same token those of us
who teach and organise educational institutions must make certain that
we do everything to develop a creative and humane attitude towards
authority, and towards Law.
There are clearly many other needs of this wide nature with which
at present we cannot deal. There is the need, to mention but two, of
changing the social structure; and second, of changing our attitude
One need which is great, and which I will touch upon at the very
end of what I have to say, is the need for considering our true position
in the vast world; it is a need for revaluing the role of nationalism in
the twentieth century, in the age not only of short-waves and jet travel
and space flights, but also of the hydrogen bomb and of the possibilities
of germ warfare. At the present let me rather turn to one or two
specifically educational matters.
Much of education is bedevilled by a concentration on results, on
achievements, rather than on the processes through which so called
'results' are gained. A very heavy emphasis on examinations and
examination results is not the only indication of a concentration away
from processes. All methods of evaluating teachers' abilities or accom-
plishments seem to have chosen the easier path of judging a teacher
by end-results, and often end-results of others, i.e. his pupils. Of
course 'results' are important. But what results? And what of our
measures of these 'results' are they accurate; are they accurate and
consistent about the right things?
Perhaps the important point can best be made by reference to what
was said in connection with community: one, what kind of community
do we wish; two- the processes by which we attempt to gain the kind
of community we wish, will be very closely linked to the kind of com-
munity we do in the end achieve. Or to put it in another way: in a
place like Jamaica there is, understandably, a rush to get every child
into school, and there is a hustle and a bustle to get more children into
secondary schools albeit Junior Secondary schools. Now does it
matter what happens once the children are in the schools? Or will he
be happy if a high percentage of the children can pass certain tests at
the end of three or five years? Or will we be very unhappy if they
cannot pass the tests? Further, if they all can pass the tests will we
be automatically satisfied without looking at the processes whereby
they have come to the point of passing?
In short Ends and Means are closely linked together, and mutually
affect each other. This has always been admitted in matters of
morality, so that we would not be too happy to admit as a solution to
the overpopulation of any area the shooting of 25% of the population
of that area after all one can hardly think of a more efficient means
of achieving the desired end! But means have always to be judged
not only by their efficiently. And this is as true in education as in
questions of general morality. How a person learns what he learns is
in the end what he learns. We cannot, in underdeveloped countries,
simply say that we will go for quantity now, and look after quality
hereafter. There is a problem of quantity, and of contrasting scarce
resources, but if we attack this problem in a certain way we are not
putting off the question of quality, but we are settling for a certain kind
of quality now.
We must stress the quality of the education experience which we
offer: that is what is achieved every day; that is what is most likely to
have, in fact, long lasting results. This need for realising the para-
mount nature of the process, and the quality of the process, whereby
education is achieved must be fully realized in connection with all
levels of education. You cannot teach children to be humane through
inhumane methods; you cannot teach adolescents to be openminded
and accepting and loving through authoritarian methods; you cannot
teach students at teachers colleges and universities to be rigorous and
courteous through slack and selfish organisation and teaching. Finally,
you cannot help people to responsibility, and to participation in sane
decision making, by excluding them always from decision making.
One of the concommitants of the stress on process and quality in
the classroom is bound to be the provision, by and from society, of
teachers who can stimulate, control and continue certain processes
when they teach wherever they teach whether under a tamarind
tree or in the latest glass box classrooms. It need only be mentioned,
then, to be immediately realized as central: teacher education has to
be vastly improved at all levels. What the teacher experiences during
his preparation is every bit as important as what he hears from his
tutors and reads in books. Or rather what he hears and read should
be part and parcel of the experiencing of truly educative growth, where-
in what he accepts tacitly from his surroundings, and what concludes
rationally from his enquiries, should every day help him to achieve an
overt and hidden existential realisation of what education is, and how
others might be encouraged to achieve it.
As was said at the beginning of this section, the needs are so many
that it is very difficult to put them into any reasonable order. It is
true that these needs are not necessarily contradictory, and that some
needs can be tackled together. In other words, we could arrange what
we have to do in such a way as to tackle many needs together, or at
least so to prepare at any one point that later on it would be easier to
meet further specified needs.
I should like to continue to list and discuss some of the general
needs, without at this point making any priority order. We certainly
have to do something about the tendency to violence in the society.
Admittedly this tendency is not one that is peculiar to our society, even
though some might feel that it has a special quality and a special
presence in our society. The fact that violence, and violent punish-
ment, is often considered by even the most moral people in our society
to be the only way of dealing with certain difficulties, simply makes
the situation more difficult. It is firmly believed that birching and
other forms of corporal punishment are necessarily a deterrent from
certain crimes of violence. While not necessarily saying that no
corporal punishment can ever, or has ever, deterred people of certain
temperaments from crimes of violence, it is necessary to point out that
the general belief that corporal punishment is a deterrent for everyone
in all circumstances tells us something rather unfortunate and in a
sense unsavoury about our community. No doubt the use of violence
has historical ties, not only with the system of slavery, but also with
systems used sometime ago in "free societies." After all it is not so
long ago since corporal punishment was abolished in the Royal Navy.
We also forget that it isn't really all that long since people were hanged
for stealing a sheep. Perhaps the belief in corporal punishment and
the general ease with which violence is used in quarrels and otherwise
in Jamaica is related to our isolation from other parts of the world.
So that whereas certain places that formerly used corporal punishment,
and were more violent that they are, have learned to change these
practices, and their attitudes towards them, while we, cut off from the
mainstream of modern developments, have not yet learnt to get rid of
them. It is partly a matter of sheer knowledge, as are so many of these
things. If one, for instance, has heard Hadfield lecture, or rather gave
a course of lectures on this matter, one is very much more likely to have
a cautious attitude towards the use of corporal punishment, and
towards the encouragement of any kind of violence.
Although sheer knowledge of psychology would be very useful, and
I must emphasise that I mean knowledge rather than psychological
dogma or hypothesis, there are cultural matters which are bound to
encourage violence. I would list three. One, our patterns of family
and family upbringing; two, the frustrating physical and emotional
conditions under which most of the population have to live; and three,
a certain lack of appreciation of what the effects of violence can really
be. In connection with the third mentioned I must say that I find it
difficult to believe that people who get into bottle fights really under-
stand how lethal a weapon a broken bottle can be. This seems to me
to be all part and parcel of the lack of a firm belief in causality which
one tends to find in underdeveloped and quasimagical societies. Where
the people have had no opportunity to develop a sort of scientific -
philosophical realisation that actions really entail consequences, one
constantly finds not only a belief in "good luck," and a great trust in
charms and lotteries, but one also finds an unwillingness to believe, in
fact to see and realise, that certain actions must lead to certain con-
sequences. The venting of my pent-up feelings by crashing a bottle
over somebody's head and face not only releases my feelings, and my
dreadful frustrations, but also causes great pain and irreparable harm
to the person struck.
I think that here we need a great deal of psychological research to
show whether my assessment of the situation has any substantial basis,
or whether it is a matter of people enjoying the infliction of pain. I
tend not to believe this latter supposition when applied to our situa-
tion. But it is something that needs our attention and our research. I
have heard the opinion expressed by a leading psychiatrist in the United
States of America that from all he knows about the early years of
children in Jamaica, the society should be particularly prone to
schizophrenia. Should this hypothesis not be tested? Further, psycho-
logists and social workers dealing with immigrants in England tend to
feel that they are meeting more than a fair share of cases of
schizophrenia. They believe that even though the circumstances in
which the immigrant lives are very difficult nonetheless schizophrenia,
if it does take place, springs from very early childhood experience.
This leads back to the first of the three factors mentioned as con-
nected with the incidence of violence in our society, namely family
patterns and patterns of upbringing. I have been surprised again and
again at how violent people of nearly all classes in Jamaica can be
with children. I think that this violence is to be carefully distinguished
from any idea of cruelty because the people who are very violent with
children at any given moment are often at other times very loving and
warmhearted. This of course is a matter for research and I am putting
forward my ideas with a deep realisation of the need for research.
I have been surprised on many occasions, on giving a Jamaican
maid and her children a lift in a car to notice their behaviour with
respect to this matter of "violence" or "force." On the whole, if there
is not a situation of fear, the maid and her children will be quite
courteous in accepting a lift, but the trouble comes at the end of the
journey. When the car has stopped and the younger children are to
leave the car, the mother often does not seem to have any means of
persuading or directing them to leave other than vigorous blows
directed at the younger children. These blows, understandably, are
often imitated and multiplied by the older children. The recounting
of this kind of incident cannot, of course, be anything more than
indicative of the fact that we need study of how children are brought
up and treated in general. One has often had to point out to teachers
in the rural areas of Jamaica that corporal punishment can hardly be
of great use to them as they are not likely to be able to give a beating
which would in any way match the beating that parents regularly
inflict on their children. Although the attitude to violence might not
be uniform throughout Jamaican society, it does appear to be more
generally permissive than in many other societies.
The second factor connected with violence in our society has to do
with the physical conditions in which so large a part of our society
exists. This matter hardly needs any enlarging upon. In Roger Mais's
books and in The Children of Sisyphus by Orlando Patterson we get a
fictional treatment of the problems that come to mind.
Another need which might have been mentioned when dealing with
the financial aspects of the problem is that of making sure that we do
our own internal financing as well as getting much needed external aid.
This is not merely or mainly a financial matter, and that is why it has
been kept for this section which is supposed to deal with needs beyond
the financial. It is really a matter of attitude, especially attitude
towards the difficult ideas of independence and freedom. Do we really
do as much as we can for ourselves, or do we still have the attitude of
expecting that others really have some sort of moral responsibility to
look after us. Obviously if we agree that the world should be organised
in a certain way on the basis of their being in more than a geo-
graphical sense "one world" then we can expect some sort of general
mutual aid throughout the world. But if we do insist on a more
national, and nationalistic arrangement, and if we do insist that we
must make independent decisions, away from the decisions which the
"Great Powers" would like, then must we not extend this "independent"
attitude to our planning and financing of education? In the under-
developed countries we are sometimes unreasonable and naive in this
matter of foreign aid. It is difficult to imagine any country giving
foreign aid without any sort of ties. Is this not certainly true of both
the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.? Robert Ulich, of Harvard University, who
is in no sense unsympathetic to developing nations, has this to say -
There is something precious in personal as well as in
international situations, perhaps best expressed in the word
"tact." Some people have it, some people can learn it, and
some people apparently will never know what it is. On the
other hand, it is ridiculous to think that, in our modern
situation of international competition, any government can
ask its citizens to pay higher taxes and see the money go
abroad merely out of a selfless delight of spending. Those
who give ask for co-operation, those who do not wish to co-
operate should not accept.
One must not give the impression that places like Jamaica do not
need foreign aid. Moreover, I do not think that we need feel guilty
in accepting foreign aid. As a matter of fact it would only be an
extreme nationalist and one who did not look upon the world as a
whole who would be upset at accepting some level of aid. However, we
must be quite realistic about such aid. We must keep Ulich's state-
ment above very much in mind. And we must be willing, wherever it
is possible, to give as well as to receive.
Just as important as being realistic is to make sure that we plan
our own priorities, so that when we ask for aid we are asking for some-
thing that we need and something which fits into our development
plans rather than something which some other person is anxious to
give away or to develop. Moreover, it is paramount that people who
hold responsibility in our community should play a large part in the
planning and negotiation for any aid from abroad. Those who are
committed to working with the proposed solutions will be more careful
about them, it might be imagined, than those who advise and leave.
Another need, on the educational rather than the general side, is a
careful consideration and testing of the possibilities of using technology
to improve and extend our teaching. We are beyond the point of
thinking that T.V. and films and radio can take the place of the teacher.
But we do need to consider imaginatively ways in which our effective-
ness as teachers could be enhanced by the use of all these aids. I
myself am sure that they would be more rewardingly used at the level
of teacher training, and particularly in connection with the supervision
of internship. We are aware that unless this supervision is most care-
fully done, the training and education of teachers will suffer enormously
and consequently the junior secondary programme will be in grave
jeopardy. We are also aware of the fact that there are not going to be
as many supervisors in the internship programme as many of us would
like. This seems to be a most suitable field in which to experiment
with the use of these technological devices.
Another field in which technology might be invaluable is adult
education. And we should say, at least in passing, that all our educa-
tional efforts, especially at the lower levels, would be much enhanced
by the co-operation and fuller understanding of our adult population.
But our adult population has had little opportunity for any real educa-
tion, and therefore need much help if they are to understand many
matters concerning the education of their children.
Clearly, then, the needs are very many and they are various. What
is often forgotten in Jamaica is that these needs are shared with very
many other countries. It seems to me that in the exact same way that
the African countries got together at a serious working conference in
order to set out their needs, their resources, the finances needed for
meeting their needs, and the foreign aid which they would need for
supplementing their finances, so too countries in the Caribbean which
share the same sorts of problems, and the same cultural and educa-
tional heritage, should get together in a similar manner not only to
work out their needs, but to join together to request from agencies
abroad, preferably international agencies, aid for education. Over the
last few years the junior secondary idea has been put forward separately
by an outside body to Guyana, to Trinidad, to British Honduras and to
Jamaica. Will not each of these places meet similar problems in adopt-
ing this particular kind of organisation for their post-primary educa-
tion? Would it not be sensible for these territories to get together, to
examine the meaning of the proposals put to them by the outside
agency; and to explore the difficulties and implications of putting these
proposals into practice? Of course, it would have been even more
sensible of them to have discussed the matter together from the
One question which it is urgent for them to discuss now is that of
what is going to happen at the higher levels of the secondary school.
There are two problems here. The first one is connected with what
will happen to the present secondary schools when one has cut off their
two bottom forms. Will they be four-year institutions from years
13 17? The second question, which is already coming up in different
forms throughout the Caribbean area, is what is the best way to tackle
what used to be called Sixth Form work? This has always been a
problem in the Leewards and Windwards. Already British Honduras
has proposed as an answer to this question the institution of a Junior
College and the Bahamas, or certain schools in the Bahamas, are already
thinking of embarking on a similar venture. It is sometimes felt that
comparisons between a place like Jamaica and places like the United
Kingdom and the United States of America are a bit unreal. It is
often only too true that solutions to problems transplanted from those
countries to the West Indies do not work. It can only be good sense
for areas in the West Indies which face the same problems, and which
come roughly out of the same cultural heritage, to look at their problems
together, and to pool such limited resources as they have in working
towards some solution to these problems, and in seeking, in a more
independent and planned manner than previously, aid from inter-
national organizations and individual countries.
In fact it is a comment on the kind of self-image which Jamaica
has developed that, in dealing with Jamaica's needs, one has to be so
careful and so apologetic in suggesting that there should be a Caribbean-
wide working Conference to discuss the real educational needs,
potentialities and resources of the area. Perhaps the fact that the
President of the United States of America and other such controllers
of funds have made it plain that they would prefer to deal with regions
that have much in common, rather than with the small entities within
these regions, will force us, where our own good sense will not, into
attacking our educational problems at all levels on a Caribbean-wide
basis. The University of the West Indies tries at its level to do this,
and to encourage schools throughout the area to look at their common
problems, much more of this kind of work is needed, not least of all at
the level of ministries and governments.
A regional study of Caribbean educational problems is needed, and
a regionally agreed to plan of action in connection with priorities, with
training, with internal expenditure and external aid. The U.W.I. has,
through its work in Education, and through its negotiations with
Canadian Aid, given a lead in this direction. Much more has to be
The university is a good agent for promoting this kind of work.
The qualities which should mark any university, as George Schuster
has ably argued, are those of Rigour and Courtesy. By the former the
University promotes all that is connected with rational appraisal, with
enquiry, with research, with the idea that even the most sacred ideas
are open to rigorous inspection; by the latter it stresses the need for
regard for others. The balance is difficult to strike, but it is a balance
we need in society the balance between Rigour and Courtesy we
need it also in every form of education. We need it also for tacking
the idea of "Education for the Needs" .of any developing society.
Finally, then, we return to the insight that it is not simply a matter
of education for Jamaica's needs. It is also very much an education in
order to discover what Jamaica's needs might be and ought to be. We
must not be fooled by the model taken from animal psychology into
believing that human needs are easily written down except in those
gloriously broad terms, the need for food, the need for shelter, and the
need for sex. In any one of these the need cannot be boundless; nor
is it automatically clear what the minimum needs are. Moreover, what
matters for the human being and this seems central to me is not
simply that these needs be satisfied, but rather the style in which, and
with which, they are satisfied.
JOHN J. FIGUEROA
New Training For Secondary
IN THE NEW COUNTRIES of the Caribbean one of the pressing
educational problems is the necessity to expand secondary education
facilities at a very rapid rate in the next five to ten years. The segment
of the population between the ages of twelve and fifteen has increased
rapidly, is increasing and will continue to increase in relation to the
rest of the population for some time to come. In one country the
projections reveal a steady rise from 70,000 in 1967 to 120,000 in 1983.1
Political self-determination, illusory as it is, has brought with it in-
creased opportunities for national and personal economic gain-which
is accepted to be the purpose of education-and increased responsibili-
ties of many kinds. It is natural that internal political pressure has
been and is being built up to demand the provision of a far greater
number of opportunities for people to get certificates and degrees. This
demand inevitably adds to the real pressures of survival as indepen-
dent states but even without this there is no escape from the changed
and changing emphasis on secondary schooling. To quote one Ministry:
"A secondary system which was born in an era of exclusivism and
privilege has been changing rapidly to fit into a system of career open
to the talented and accountability to the public."2
But with limited natural economic resources and those, as must be
expected, left undeveloped by colonial administration, no new country
in the area can, at present, afford this urgent expansion; yet, neither
can they afford not to afford it. Trembling on the horns of this dilemma
they have been turning to outside sources for uneconomic and burden-
some loans to finance educational development, among other things.
As a result of these negotiations it is now accepted in about six of
these countries that a change in the present structure of secondary
education must be made. The present structure is a pale imitation of
the 1944 Education Act of the United Kingdom. An American innova-
tion is to be introduced. Junior Secondary schools are being actively
planned for. In one country 'progress' is already being made. Existing
post-primary schools which were called Senior Schools and which
offered what in effect was primary education have already been re-
named Junior Secondary with no real change in organisation except
on paper, and the introduction of Spanish on the time-table.
The Junior Secondary Schools are to give secondary education for
three years, at which time selected pupils should go to Senior Second-
ary schools to get G.C.E. certificates, and the others siphoned off into
Trade Schools, Vocational Centres, Apprenticeship, etc. As an attempt
to solve the problem this is accepted as the most feasible compromise
in the face of the facts. In keeping with societal pressures, one of
these facts is that these schools are intended to take in all of those
who have reached the age of twelve years whether they have acquired
the primary skills or not. Relatively few pupils, it is anticipated, will
be ready to begin a 'proper' course of secondary education of any
type-grammar or otherwise. This has encouraged the policy that uni-
versity graduates are not necessary to teach these children, since the
'academic content' of their curricula would be very similar in level
to a Secondary Modern school in England as described by John
Partridge.3 A small proportion of graduates is said to be desirable,
especially as principals of the schools, but the staffs would be drawn
mainly from the graduates of teachers' colleges which concentrate on
primary teaching, and others who have 'O' level or 'A' level certificates.
A recent advertisement put out by a Ministry of Education confirms this.
The university graduates are to be saved for the Senior Secondary schools
and the coaching for G.C.E. certificates. In time, perhaps, the Junior
Secondary schools will have more university graduates on their staffs.
In any case, the projections indicate that more trained teachers
of every level will be needed than the present supply sources can
produce. In one country4 the forecast is for 821 university graduates
in 1969 rising slowly to 1623 in 1983. The number of graduates em-
ployed in 1968 is 603, of whom 516 are untrained as teachers. Thus
there is immediate need in that country to train 734 university gradu-
ates. Yet, what is most interesting in all this is the apparent change
of heart or mind of Ministry administrators with regard to the train-
ing of university graduates for teaching. This is not the place to
speculate on possible reasons for this change. Suffice it to say that
they seem to have seen a light and now want training for these persons
-something they hitherto regarded as a frill and a redundancy. In
the region as a whole there is growing pressure on the University of
the West Indies to arrange some scheme to ensure that teachers in
secondary schools can all be trained for their jobs in the quickest
At present one of the courses run by the Department of Education
of the University is comparable in content and execution to the P.G.C E.
of the University of London and leads to the award of a postgraduate
Diploma in Education. The average number of students doing this
course over the past fourteen years has been about twenty-seven. Of
these about ten per year have come from all the other supporting terri-
tories outside Jamaica, where the Department is located. These other
countries, all contributors to the expense of the University, find it less
and less economic to send sizeable numbers of their graduates to
Jamaica to do the Diploma in Education course. They cannot afford
the money and the consequent breakdown in the teaching service. But
their needs are great. The lay administrators and the politicians have
therefore been asking for a part-time Diploma in Education course
which graduate teachers can do in their own countries on evenings
and during a vacation, although it should be clear to any person with
some knowledge about the matter that, even with all other things being
equal, a part-time Diploma in Education cannot have the same fullness
as one done full-time over the same period. A professional training
course is not an academic degree course.
Nevertheless, if any responsible attempt is to be made to meet
these needs certain problems have to be solved by the University. One
is the necessity to find additional staff to be posted at or sent on itin-
eraries through the different centres where training is being done.
The University seems unwilling to deflect funds to this end. There is
a possibility of staff being lent from a developed country, but this
assistance has to be carefully assessed in terms of imposed accultura-
tion. Staffing is probably the major problem, but help from the
Government of each country involved can go a long way towards
But, obviously, before the stage of recruiting staff can be reached
there must be agreement on the content and arrangement of a course
to satisfy standards which justify the award of a University diploma
or certificate. There are two aspects to this question: the concern for
academic content-which is almost the only concern of interested
academic staff outside the Faculty of Education-and the more relevant
aspect of standards of practical teaching which some members of the
Faculty of Education consider to be the real purpose of such a profes-
sional course-as against the academic purpose of a master's or doctor's
degree. For a new professional course to serve any purpose whatever
the teachers, most of whom have been teaching for several years, need
(a) to be brought up-to-date in their subjects, and (b) to be led to
adopt creative teaching methods which are based on understandings of
the child, of the society in which the child is growing and of the
arrangement of the system used by the society for educating its young.
(Foreign staff must unavoidably be less effective for these reasons.)
If the real dangers of academic watering down can be avoided one
major matter would then remain to be settled: the time-tabling of the
events of the course to allow for full and economical use of staff and
full application of energies by the trainees. When the course has been
fully planned, with its objectives and scope clear to all concerned,
each Government will have to see how many and which teachers it
would select for this training each year and what incentives it would
have to offer.
Other new countries of the world, one imagines, have come or will
come to this same point of decision with respect to expanding second-
ary education. Economic resources may be sufficient in some, enabling
institutions to be established and staff to be attracted, but it seems
very probable that the supply of trained university graduates will in
every case be short of the demand. It appears worthwhile to suggest
a scheme which could form the basis of a plan for meeting the problem
as an emergency. The scheme to be suggested has been thought of
with the new countries of the Caribbean in mind but should be of
equal value, it seems, as a thinking point in other regions.
Although run by the University, the purpose of the course must
be to ensure that the quality of the teaching is the classroom is greatly
improved. The question of how much academic learning in the field
of education should be the minimum to be acquired is admittedly a
central one. The crucial question however hinges on the change in
thinking and feeling which results in a change in personality and
behaviour. With time being severely limited, with not enough staff
to do a more complete programme, and with teachers having to work
all day and attend classes on evenings, it might seem vain to hope
for a respectable outcome from an emergency course in such circum-
stances. One of the conditions of its success is the continuing enthu-
siasm of the teachers to do thorough study. Inducement of some kind
seems necessary to attract a sufficient number of the best each year.
Another condition is that each selectee must already have enough
insight into the nature of the secondary subject he is teaching per-
haps his degree was of value in this respect to enable him to think about
it a lot more. Yet, these are not insuperable, if authorities are prepared
to accept whatever scheme seems to serve the purpose best, taking all
things into consideration.
The proposal outlined below is for the award of a Certificate in
the teaching of a secondary school subject, e.g. Maths., English,
Spanish, Scripture. For one thing, awarding a Certificate avoids con-
fusion with the award of a Diploma, the course for which is different
in several important ways from the suggested new plan. One of these
is that for the Certificate the learner will study the teaching of one
subject only-that which he has most insight into. Perforce, there
must be much more and deeper concentration on a main stream of
essentials and fewer excursions up important tributaries. Only thus,
in this case, can a high standard in whatever is done be insisted upon,
and no course is worth the use of resources if a high standard is not
the qualifying condition.
However, before outlining what I have in mind, it appears rele-
vant at this point to say that my own impression of what happens
in teacher education warns me of the danger of spreading the content
of a short training course too widely over the disciplines and experi-
ences of education. A post-graduate year is too short to do much in
any circumstances. The result can be a thin surface covering, an
ill-digested introduction of all the concepts it is possible to cram in
with no real assimilation of anything at all to produce a change in
personality and in approach to classroom happenings. Indeed, too
often persons are likely to go out with diplomas and a mass of mis-
understandings from being exposed to too many flashcards of academic
learning. For example, if the philosophy of education is to be pursued
as an academic discipline in a one-year course (the term 'academic'
is here used to mean 'the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake') a
lecturer would be forced to try to stimulate thought and reading to
embrace aspects such as the Method and Scope of philosophical in-
vestigation, the problems of Knowledge, of Values, of Morality and of
Aesthetics, The Nature of Man, the Nature and Aims of Education, The
Causes of Education, The Development of Educational Ideas, etc. All
of these are intimately involved in the study of education. But
simultaneously the psychology lecturer might see it as necessary to
cover matters connected with Heredity and Environment, Child Devel-
opment from birth to adolescence, Theories of Learning and Perception,
Theories of Personality and Personality Measurement, Motivation
Theories, the field of Social Psychology to include attitude modifica-
tion, Intelligence and Intelligence Testing, the Measurement of Mental
Abilities, Educational Statistics, etc. Again, there is nothing there
clearly irrelevant in the study of education. But the point can be seen
that any course of study, even at the Ph.D. level, must be a compro-
mise and a selection according to its accepted objective. Otherwise the
competition for time on the time-table between the philosophy and
psychology lecturers to pursue the kind of normal academic course as
suggested above is almost certain to reduce in direct ratio the effective-
ness of both. Worse, it reduces to a useless quota the time to be spent
on thinking of the other matters perhaps more directly connected
with classroom teaching.
The teacher responsible for giving guidance in the teaching of
English, for instance, must be charged with generating enlightenment
on teaching procedures with respect to the development of (a) under-
standing the meaning of the language used in a variety of ways and
(b) the capacity to use the language to express correctly and effect-
ively ideas and emotions of the widest possible range. After all the
intellectual interaction with the more academic bases of education the
teacher of English has to enter the classroom and do those two things.
But inherent in these broad divisions are separable but related facets
such as mastery of the accepted grammatical usage of the language;
accurate comprehension of factual matter, including comprehension of
instructions and explanations; the ability to recognize and assess
opinions and propaganda; the ability to respond to, to appreciate and
enjoy poems, plays, short stories, novels; the ability to use language
creatively for literary expression through making poems, stories and
plays; the ability to translate a play into action: movement and sound;
mastery of the conventions of spelling and punctuation, including
letter-writing; the use of the voice for the production of appropriate
and pleasing sounds; etc. etc. Although these facets overlap in places,
a tutor in practice finds that it is wasteful to treat them in a general
way, e.g., dealing with the teaching of literature in a comprehensive
fashion instead of dealing with the presentation of poetry as a series
of topics in their own right; and so on. The lecturer in the teaching
of mathematics or history or any other subject would be able to
produce a similar analysis of his task.
Unless a very firm and clear-headed decision is made as to where
the limits of the course are to be set without reducing its value to
a meaningless degree the preferred plan is likely to push lecturers into
attempting to rush through a pseudo-academic coverage of the wide
fields of philosophy, psychology, history and education and so on. It
will not then be surprising when graduates emerge armed with a poor
understanding of some slogans, some phrases and some words to use
at interviews and in examinations, but no assimilation into themselves
of the kind of understandings and behaviour their tutors worked for.
The planning of the course, therefore, hinges on where the emphases
and the balance should be. Should a broad syllabus of academic back-
ground be the meat of the course, on the assumption that the teachers
would thereby be able to find the ways and means of applying acquired
concepts to improve their classroom teaching? Should the stress be
put on the practice of teaching as a collection of pragmatic and em-
pirical observations? Or, on the practice of teaching as both a prac-
tical and academic study with the academic emphasis and content
controlled by their relevance to the deeper understanding of good
What is now here suggested is an answer of the third kind, pro-
viding what seems a rational blending of academic and practical re-
quirements in a course to meet an existing emergency situation. The
aim would be to produce teachers who teach in an educative way be-
cause they have acquired insight into (a) the nature of education, (b)
the nature of the educand, (c) the nature of the school subject being
taught, and (d) the nature of stimulating classroom teaching of the
subject. The crux of the exercise would be the insight into (d), but
this insight only comes after the previous understandings are achieved.
Taking the course in the teaching of English to illustrate the approach,
one could outline the plan in this way.
Course for a Certificate in the Teaching of English
in Secondary Education.
Aim: (given above)
Content (in a rough sequential order: shifts may be made within each
1. What is involved in the study of education. The disciplines
of education-their rules and relationships.
2. What are the aims of education? Answers and their assump-
tions. How to philosophise about education.
3. The philosophical assumptions and constructs of present-day
educational practices in the British Caribbean and elsewhere.
4. The philosophical assumptions and constructs of educational
practices of former times in the British Caribbean and
5. The question of Knowledge.
6. The questions of Values and Morals. Aesthetics and the Edu-
cation of the Emotions.
7. The physical, emotional and intellectual development of
children and adolescents. The relationship between natural
development and teaching methods.
8. The psychology of learning. The social psychology of adoles-
9. Measuring educational outcomes with regard to the aims and
assumptions of the system.
10. Contemporary developments in education, e.g. programmed
learning, and their rationale.
1 The nature of language; its growth and development. Language
and thought. Language and language learning. The language
development of children and adolescents. Recent developments
in the study of language and language learning.
2. The purposes and problems of teaching English, with particular
reference to all the countries of the British Caribbean. The
linguistic and experiential background of the learners.
3. The influence of adolescent interests and capacities in pupils'
responses in relation to the teaching of English.
1. Motivation in the learning of language skills. Other learning
conditions in the act of language teaching.
2. General aims in developing (a) non-literary and (b) literary
3. General aims in developing powers of expression.
4. The planning of a series or unit of lessons.
5. The use of questioning.
6. The planning of a single lesson of a unit, with emphasis on
specific aims and on the most effective sequence of activities.
7. The analysis and assessment of a lesson already given.
8. Testing results of language teaching.
Group Practice Teaching to relate what has been discussed in
Phases B and C to actual classroom and school conditions.6
Discussion and demonstration of activities and procedures for:
1. Developing the ability to speak and write "correctly".
2. Developing the ability to get and use needed Information, ex-
planations and directions through listening and reading.
3. Developing the ability to give clear information, explanations
and directions orally and in writing.
4. Developing the ability to make reasoned judgements from ex-
pressions of opinion and persuasive language heard and read.
5. Developing the ability to express personal judgements orally
and in writing with clarity and cogency.
6. Developing the ability to derive pleasure and satisfaction from
language heard or read: poetry, novels, short stories, plays.
7. Developing the ability to give pleasure and satisfaction through
speaking and writing: drama, story-writing, playwriting, verse-
speaking, verse writing, etc.
8. The choice and use of textbooks. The location of material.
Individual Practice Teaching periods to put into action, to test
and to analyse the activities and procedures dealt with in Phase E,
by means of intensive individual tutorial sessions before and after
1. Review of the practice teaching experience in relation to
future planning for day-to-day tasks.
Implications and deductions.
2. The purpose and nature of external examinations. Reform and
3. The maintenance of further professional growth through
observing one another, contact in Journals, Association, Action-
Research projects, etc.
If suspicions of dilettantism arise in readers' minds with respect
to the philosophy and psychology content of this proposal one can
only reiterate the view that it is not the separate discipline that
matters in this case but the coherence and relevance of all parts of
the course in changing teachers as teachers. It is important too to
defend the suggested sequence of topics. The need for better sequential
ordering is often indicated by the disillusionment that shocks many
teacher-trainers when they see their students failing to make obvious
connections between matters learnt from separate disciplines of the
conventional course. A teacher with plenty of examination knowledge
of Motivation from the psychology course bores the pupils with pur-
poseless classroom humbug or reduces their confidence and enthusiasm
with excessive fault-finding and the tutor suffers agonies of disappoint-
ment. The course set out above assumes that much less of this
dichotomy would develop if certain concepts, experiences and informa-
tion are already familiar to the teachers before certain others are dealt
with, thus providing a definite situation for necessary cross connections
to be made and appreciated.
Of course, in the ideal Department or College communication and
co-operation between staff would allow for a more flexible arrangement
of the teaching because everyone would be acquainted with what
others are doing and when. It is, however, not altogether wise to plan
for ideal situations, hence the idea of a laid-down sequence of ex-
posures to try to ensure that relationships would be seen.
Ideally too, for the purposes of this course at least, one person
would teach a group of students the whole course. But there seems to
be few persons with the breadth of interest necessary for that-
although it is difficult to respect a lecturer in methods of teaching who
cannot at this level, if called upon to, teach the philosophy of educa-
tion, the psychology, and the historical development of the education
system which his students need to understand. Teaching methods, as
distinct from fads and gimmicks, do not have their own rationale. They
come from very fundamental tenets of philosophy and psychology. A
lecturer in methods needs to be able to justify the tenets on which his
methods of teaching rest.
However, since present practice of staffing Departments does not
seem to take this into account, and since for the proposed scheme
staff must nevertheless be kept to a minimum-because of money and
personnel shortages-basic requirements would be for one person to
teach the philosophical and historical elements; another for psychology,
including child development; and one for each of the secondary school
subjects in which training is being offered. Hence, to offer prepara-
tion for the teaching of English, Mathematics, a Foreign Language and
Science, the staffing minimum would be six (regrettably lumping
several natural sciences together as Science) The arrangement of the
proposed course, however, would involve the philosophy and psychology
lecturers in a relatively small way, thus freeing them to move through-
out the year to at least two other bases in the region. The methods
tutors of any base would have to be stationary. Thus, to operate bases
in three countries of the Caribbean giving training in teaching three
school subjects a total staff of twelve would be necessary
The reasons why this course has to be a part-time one have already
been mentioned. The teachers would, therefore, be able to attend
classes presumably on evenings and during a part of the mid-year
vacation. The following programme seems to be one way of implement-
ing the proposal.
PHASE TIME PERSONNEL PERIOD
Phase A 20 hours Lecturers in
Phase B 6 hours Subject Tutor April -
Phase C 6 hours Subject Tutor Evenings
Phase D 3 weeks per group April to
or 6 or 8 over one July -
term, i.e. approx. Subject Tutor In a School.
75 hours per group.
Phase E 30 hours Subject Tutor Mid-Year Vacation
Phase F 2 school terms, September to
approx. 500 hours Subject Tutor April following -
Phase G 10 hours Subject Tutor April following -
(N.B. Phase A may be done by a Subject Tutor or Subject Tutors
if suitable personnel are available.)
Following this arrangement the course would run over some fifteen
months, part of which would be residential, enabling tutors to lessen
the losses and deficits of an entirely part-time course.
The award of the certificate should depend on the attainment of a
high standard in both the practice and theory of education. A candi-
date should satisfy his tutors that (a) his practice of teaching is
enlightened and stimulating, and (b) his background of theoretical
understandings is sound and useful. Phase F of the suggested scheme
provides the means of assessing the quality of classroom activity
normally established by the teacher, but to avoid some defects of the
usual theory examination one would like to suggest that the test of
theoretical soundness be done both through a slightly different exam-
Ination and through prepared papers.
Candidates could be required to present three papers of between
3,000 and 5,000 words during each of three terms, on assigned or freely
chosen topics in each of these fields: the philosophy and historical
development of educational ideas and practices; the psychology of
teaching; classroom teaching procedures and methods. The grades on
these nine papers would carry half the weight of the total theoretical
examination. The other half would be given to what is done in the
examination room. Four question papers of three hours each should
be answered. Paper A would be an essay on a teaching method topic
which would be announced a week or two before the examination.
Candidates thus have time to prepare their thesis but no notes or
books will be allowed in the examination room. Paper B would pose
a number of unseen questions on the teaching of the subject, three
only of which must be answered. (In my own experience asking more
than three questions in three hours tends to encourage and approve
flimsy, superficial and padded answers.) Papers C and D would also
allow choice of three unseen questions each in (1) the philosophy
and historical development of educational ideas and practice, and
(li) the psychology of teaching and child development, respectively.
It is taken for granted that most of the teaching done by the
lecturers would be through organised seminars and tutorials rather
than by 'lecturing' This presupposes manageable numbers of students.
It seems reasonable to say that a seminar of more than twenty is
almost useless. But with three subject tutors running the course sixty
teachers can be trained at once-a twenty-fold increase, at least, for
all except one of the countries involved. In a country where teachers
receive an advance of two increments for having a Diploma in Edu-
cation one increment could be given for having the Certificate in the
Teaching of Science/Spanish/Mathematics in Secondary Education.
There is an advantage in putting these increments on to the end of
the existing scale but administrators would probably prefer to offer
the immediate reward to attract the younger persons. In any case if
the Ministries are indeed enlightened enough now to want to end their
policy of making 'instant teachers'-teachers who get a university
degree, put on a tie and walk into a classroom as teachers-they would
give three increments to the holder of a Diploma in Education and
two to the holder of the Certificate as outlined here or some similar
but useful qualification.
C. R. GRAY
Draft Plan for Education. Ministry of Education. Tri idad & Tobago. 1968.
2. Draft Plan for Education. Ministry of Education. Trinidad & Tobago. 1968.
3. Life in a Secondary modern School. Penguin Books, 1968.
4. Trinidad & Tobago.
5. Phases B, C, D, E will obviously vary with the school subject.
6. See my article in Teacher Education, Vol. 6 No. 2. O.U.P.
NOTES AND COMMENTARY
IN THE modern world bilingualism is far more widespread
than we imagine. To begin with, for the majority of those who speak
it, English is a second language.
In addition, as John McNamara has recently pointed out, most
nations of Europe are multi-ethnic, and so multilingual and multi-
Catalan, Basques and Galicians in Spain;
Bretons and Provencals in France;
Welsh and Scots in U.K.;
Flemmings and Waloons in Belgium;
Romansh in Switzerland;
Valois, Piedmontese, Germans in Italy;
Frisians in Holland;
Italians, Hungarians, Slavenes, Croatlans, Albanians and
Macedonians in Yugoslavia.
These are some of the most obvious bilingual populations in
Europe, after generations and even centuries of national unifica-
tion, transfer of population, expulsion and genocide. Some of these
people were brought together as one nation in situations at least as
traumatic as that which gave birth to the West Indian bicultural
And there are even more bilingual nations in Latin America,
Asia and Africa.
The problem in European countries is for the minority groups to
learn the language of the majority and to make some adjustment to
the social and cultural values of the majority.
But in developing nations the problem is somewhat different.
Here, there is the case of some nations made up of diverse racial,
tribal, religious and linguistic groups, where in the first place no
indigenous language can hope to become the instrument of national
unification and development-as in some of the nations of Africa;
and secondly, none of the indigenous languages is currently equipped
to deal with the modern world of technology, international commerce
When considering our problem in Jamaica we should be consoled
by the situation elsewhere as I have summarised it from McNamara's
article. Even among developing nations, our ethnic diversity is not so
fundamentally divisive as elsewhere. And we have in our community
a variety of language which has been traditionally accepted as the
language of technology, international commerce and administration.
But we share with many other developing nations the problem of
having as our language of status, a variety which is not the ordinary
or first language of the majority of our people. Nor are the cultural
values contained in this standard variety the deep cultural values
of the majority of our people. Our difficulties as Language teachers,
however, are lessened (or perhaps complicated) by the fact that a
case could be made out that a majority of our people aspire to the
linguistic and cultural values of the minority status group.
When we look at most bilingual communities in which at least
two varieties of language operate, we find that we share with them
another significant feature. Wherever at least two varieties of a
language exist in a community, the speakers consider each variety
appropriate for one set of settings, situations and purposes and not
for another. This language-situation relationship has been formulated
by Charles Ferguson in his classic definition of diglossia. Diglossia he
defines as "a relatively stable language situation in which, in addi-
tion to the primary dialects of the language there is a very
divergent, highly codified (often, grammatically more complex) super-
imposed variety, the vehicle of a large and respected body of written
literature, either of an earlier period or of another speech com-
munity, which is learned largely by formal education and is used for
most written and formal purposes but is not used by any sector of
the community for ordinary conversation" This is very much like a
definition of the Jamaican language situation.
This definition has been further generalised to all situations in
which a high or standard variety is employed for the purposes of
more formal communication, and a low or relatively uncuultivated
variety is employed for the purposes of more intimate communica-
In the Jamaican context, the reason for teaching Standard
English in our schools, in addition to the fact that it is used for
most written and formal purposes in our community, is that it is
also the means of wider communication with other language com-
munities outside of our community so that it makes available to
Jamaicans things like higher education in other countries, a wider
literature and the fruits of modern technology.
Two things might seem to be implied by this division of the
language in a community into high and low, or standard and intimate
varieties. I myself prefer to use the terms formal and local.
One implication might seem to be that the local variety, creole-
based language -in Jamaica, is inherently inferior to the formal
variety, S.E. in our situation: that the Creolised language is inferior
in range of vocabulary and diversity of structure, and must remain
so. The extension of this contention, of course, is that the cultural
content of the Creole is also inferior. Now I do not feel that point
has much substance. We have not sufficiently investigated the extent
to which the Creole speaker is capable of expressing the content of
his felt life in his language. We only know generally and vaguely
what attitudes and emotions inform the Creole speaker's use of his
language. What differences, depths, nuances of feeling and attitude
does the Creole speaker communicate to another who completely
shares his speech values? We don't really know. So, in what way can
one say that Creole culture is inferior to S.E. culture, except among
those engaged in the scholarly study of books? Scholarship of this
kind apart, how is the Creole-speaker deficient as compared to the
unscholarly user of S.E.?
Also the Creolised language is not intrinsically limited. It could
develop to cope with the world of technology and commerce, of
literature and science as English and French have developed over
the centuries. But this process of development takes time-and seems
in our present society impractical.
In any case if it were decreed that the more Creolised variety
should be our national language to be used on all formal occasions
-what about the phenomenon of diglossia which would surely de-
velop, whereby there would be a high Creole for use in carrying out
the business of the country, and as the licensed instrument for our
writers, and there would, on the other hand, be a low Creole for
intimate speech? In that case we would be meeting here tonight
to discuss how to get children with a low Creole background to use
"good" Creole in answering examination papers. But, of course, both
varieties would be called Creole and so would have a salutory effect
on one national neurosis. Then again we would always have another
"All varieties of Creole (or should we call it Jamaican speech
All varieties of Jamaican speech are high; but some varieties are
higher than others."
Now for the second point. When we say that in a language com-
munity there are usually two varieties of language, the local, intimate
variety and the formal variety both of which are situation bound-
we might seem to be implying that all speakers have a full knowledge
of and a complete competence in using these two varieties. But this
we know is not so. Taking the four language skills of speaking, listen-
ing, reading and writing, we know that individuals in a community
will vary in their ability
(1) to speak one or other of the varieties in the situations that
(2) to hear and understand;
(3) to read and write the formal variety.
What I am saying is that we have to distinguish between a bi-
lingual community-where two or more varieties of language are
used; and the bilingual individual who can use to a more or lesser
degree the varieties of language as situations require them.
The third question that arises here is whether the differences
between local and formal language are of the same kind and degree
in all language communities. There are some similarities in the kinds
of differences-as one can see from the efforts that have been made
to apply Bernstein's theory of restricted and elaborated codes more
widely than he himself intended. But we know that the differences
between varieties exist at the level of register, exemplified by the
language used by the lawyer among his friends in the bar-room and
the same lawyer at the bar. Or they can exist at the level of dialect:
the case of the user of the rural Yorkshire dialect and the B.S.E.; or at
the level of different languages: that of French and English in
Perhaps we may again here raise the question whether any funda-
mental differences exist in the kind and degree of difficulties faced by
the learner who aims at acquiring a new register, a new dialect or a
new language at the phonological, syntactic and semantic levels
of language. In general, at any rate, what is involved in each case
is learning to use a new variety of language spontaneously in the
I have chosen to look at our language situation In the very broad
context of widespread bilingualism. We should not feel that our
language problem is absolutely unique. People in other lands face
much the same kinds of problems as we do, and so we may be chasten-
ed or consoled to know that there is not that much of an exotic
problem in our Language teaching situation.
May I explore with you one method of teaching language in the
kind of situations I have been roughly outlining. The use of role-
playing has been suggested by some people in England as an aid in
the teaching of English in this kind of situation. And in the United
States, role playing has been used in teaching language skills to
children from what is called 'deprived' backgrounds. I wonder if your
hackles rise as mine do as the unfriendly assumption that could
underline the use of that term. In fact I must stress that the term
'deprived' is used in a careful, technical sense in the U.S., and some-
one like Reissman in his book, The Culturally Deprived Child, fully
describes the positive functional assets of the child from this kind of
But to come to our specific situation, and to commit myself to
one positive recommendation. If there is a richness in the Creole
oriented language and culture, then the children from this back-
ground who come into our schools should be encouraged to possess
their mother culture in their mother tongue, first and foremost of all.
Martin Joos has suggested that by the age of seven, children have
almost completely learnt the structures of their first language-and in
their mother tongue, others tell us, they have partly verbalised their
fundamental picture of their world at that age. We should all dis-
approve of the type of teacher who would insist that the first pre-
requisite of school learning is the rejection of one's mother culture
and mother tongue, if it happens to be Creole oriented. What we would
support is the teacher who first helps his pupils to explore, first of
all, himself his feelings, attitudes, experiences; and, secondly, his
environment in the language he already has. After he has done this,
the second objective the teacher should have is to help his pupils to
realise that there is another variety of language which in our com-
munity is approved of on certain occasions. Then he should help his
pupils to perceive the sort of situations these are; and to help them
to develop gradually the sort of linguistic behaviour these situations
Role playing, as I see it, is one of the techniques that can help
to accomplish this task. It is not the complete solution for the
problem is a complex one. Nor is it the only thing that the teacher
should do with his pupils. But you teachers know that already-the
pot has been on the fire for a long time now. For one thing, role play-
ing should not be begun before the last two years of Primary school.
Then we should be able to make these assumptions about the pupils:
(a) They have almost completely assimilated the structural
content of their first language.
(b) They have a fairly wide experience of the way language is
used in their community. Different people speak different
ways-they have favourite messages and styles; and people
they know adapt their language in many ways to suit the
Uncle Eric talking to Mama;
giving a speech on the august occasion of the
wedding last week;
asking them about school.
(c) They have, especially after a few years in school, some
knowledge of another kind of language that some people in
their own community and outside of it, use on certain
In addition there is this about the nature of the speech situation:
that the use of language will vary depending mainly on: who is speak-
ing to whom, when (i.e. in what sort of social situation) and about
To function competently in a speech community one has to in-
crease one's skill to deal spontaneously with a variety of speech situ-
ations. But not only spontaneously. Except for certain ritualistic
speech situations, when both speaker and listener are bound by a
prescribed code as in church except for these occasions, the use
of language creates the situation in which any two people are involved.
The speech situation is being created spontaneously by the participants
- and the process of creating the speech situation is never the same,
even when the linguistic product may be the same on two distinct
So then the aim of the language teacher is to produce the
spontaneously creative language user. Parenthetically, this is what
is not taken into account when one uses frozen dialogues to teach
a language. The learner may be able to reproduce his part of the
dialogue when there is an appropriate occasion; but, to use a pro-
verbially British situation, what happens when the respondent
counters your greeting, "Nice day, isn't it?" with "Not really I don't
like it quite as warm as this." That's not in the dialogue, I learnt;
you're supposed to say "Yes, lovely" and then we can go on from
there. The trouble is, of course, that speech is shared by at least two
D. G. WILSON
II. Poems for Matson Rolle
TO MATSON ROLLE. CHIEF GUIDE.
Can It be so, mon vieux, that you were born
about the time Maximilian died in Mexico
shrived of his Eldorado, the Mayan riches unobtained,
the Star of the West vanished, all the American schemes
of that last Napoleon who was so much more
an actor than a statesman (we had so many such
in Europe before Munich, remember?)
shattered by the firing squad?
These things you know not, but you know
the siffleur's six-noted paean; nights in the wood
beneath an ajoupa, enveloped in a silence
of long-accustomed noises, crac-crac; a lone owl's call;
rain beating on the chAtaignler tops; spring-time of dawn;
glory and splendour of Dominica.
In the time left you contemplate
masters long dead, trips you have organised,
times when the skies held fair, allowing
the champagne corks to pop at Ravine DIjeuner,
filling the company with sudden mirth.
And when the time comes, when at length
(as to us all) the journey ended, and the Boiling Lake
blossoms with final death, why, then, my friend,
you enter the Elysian Fields and find
(at least I hope) that they are not unlike
the Layou Flats with misty fine grey rain.
There will be other voyages to make
by foot, canoe, or bridle path, along the coast
or through the woods; places to view,
names to announce French, English, Carib known to you,
Chief Guide from Cachacrou to Capuchin.
A MATSON ROLLE,
Guide Principal de la Dominique
Sans blague, mon vieux tu m'assures
que tu es n6 quand on a fusill6 Maxmilian!
Le tr6sor de l'Empereur disparu.
Toutes les richesses du Mexique egar6es.
L' Etoile dans l'Ouest 6vanouie. Tous les projects
de ce dernier Napoleon qui 6tait plutot
artiste de theatre que diplomat
bris6s par le peloton d'execution.
(Nous en avions tant de ces messieurs
en Europe avant Munich, t'en souvlens-tu?
Chamberlain avec son parapluie, Daladier, Laval.)
De ces choses tu ne sais rien.
Mais tu as 6cout6 la chanson inoubllable
du petit siffleur de montague avec ses six notes.
Tu as pass les nuts sous un ajoupa
dans le silence vacarme de la fort impenetrable.
Tu t'es 16vb au son du crac-crac
et l'appel m6lancholique d'un hibou.
En bref, mon ami, tu as connu toute la gloire
et toute la splendeur de la Dominique.
Dans le peu de jours qui te restes tu contemples
maitres longtemps d6c6d6s, voyages organisms par toi;
ces jours quand 11 falsait beau, permettant
aux bouchons de champagne d'6clater h Ravine DBjeuner,
donnant 6lan et jole a tous les assistants.
Et quand la mort approche, comme pour nous tous
la fin vient en vue, et le Lac Boulllant
fleurit avec ses nu6es ardentes impitoyables,
tu vas entrer dans les Champs Elysees, et y trouver
(au moins je I'esp6re) qu'ils ressemblent
aux Plaines de Layou, avec la plule fine et grise.
Tu peux done faire remarquer toute la magnificence de l'Ile.
Il y aura les noms de points de vue a annoncer:
noms frangais anglais, caraibes, blen connu par toi.
guide principal de toute la Dominique,
de Cachacrou au sud jusque Capuchin au nord.
SOME NOTES ON THE ABOVE POEMS.
I MET MATSON ROLLE shortly after V.J. Day on a walk from Roseau
to La Plaine. I was at that time thinking of the horrors of the recently
ended War and of the politicians who had been in some measure at
least, responsible for it.
Matson lived at Laudat, the highest village in Dominica a sort
of half-way house from Roseau on the leeward, to Rosalie on the
windward coast, and a setting out point for the Boeri, Freshwater and
Boiling Lakes. The Great Book at Rolle's home bore witness to the
countless visitors from Europe and the U.S.A. whom he had conducted
round Dominica and especially the Lake District.
The name of Matson Rolle is perhaps most readily remembered In
connection with the tragic fate that befell the Honourable Wilfred
Clive, a relative of the Earl of Denbigh, who met his death, together
with another guide Matson's brother-in-law at the Boiling Lake
in 1901. Matson, who was on higher ground, saved himself when the
lake "blossomed" by plunging into a pool of tepid water nearby.
Palgrave, who visited the Boiling Lake in 1876, the year after its
discovery, described it in 'West Indian Memories' as follows:
Fenced in by steep, mostly indeed perpendicular banks, varying
from sixty to a hundred feet high, cut out in ash and pumice,
the lake rages and roars like a wild beast in its cage; the surface
to which such measurements as we could make assigned about
two hundred yards in length by more than half the same amount
in breadth, is that of a gigantic see thing cauldron covered with
rapid steam, through which, when the veil is for a moment
blown apart by the mountain breeze, appears a confused mass
of tossing waves, crossing, and clashing in every direction a
chaos of boiling waters. Towards the centre, where the ebulli-
tion is at its fiercest, geyser-like masses are being constantly
thrown up to the height of several feet, not on one exact spot,
but shifting from side to side, each fresh burst being preceded
by a noise like that of a cannon fired off at some great depth
below; while lesser jets often suddenly make their appearances
nearer the sides of the lake.
One of the abortive plans of Napoleon III was an attempt to break
up the United States by establishing the independence of the Southern
Confederate States then fighting the troops of the Union. This was
part and parcel of his plan to establish French ascendancy in the New
World. To this end he promised to support the Hapsburg Maximilian
in his attempt to win the throne of Mexico. Later, Napoleon was com-
pelled to recall his troops from Mexico. Maximilian was captured by
the partisans under Juarez, sentenced to death, and shot on June 19,
1867, almost the date of Matson's birth.
The siffleur de montagne, who song resembles the opening move-
ment of a Beethoven symphony, is rarely heard below 1,000 feet. The
crac-crac is an insect which at night makes a continuous noise similar
to its name. Cachacrou, the Caribs' name for Scott's head, and Capuchin
are settlements in the extreme south and north of Dominica: the
relatively flat land around the Layou river, the largest in the island,
is known as the Layou Flats.
The reference to Ravine DBjeuner was inspired by the story I was
told of Administrator Mahaffy, the son of the Provost of Trinity College,
Dublin, who sent Oscar Wilde to Oxford "because you are too clever for
us!" Aparently, with Matson Rolle as guide, Mahaffy fils used to tour
the interior of Dominica in the company of such charming, intelligent
and wealthy young men as Donald Riviere and Cecil Potter. Stopping
for a picnic lunch at Ravine D6jeuner, one of the company would put
three bottles of champagne in the stream. When he judged the
champagne to be sufficiently cold, the young man would take a bottle
from the icy water, sniff "Corked," and empty the champagne into the
Shirley Gordon: Reports and Repercussions in West Indian Education
Published: Ginn & Co. Ltd., 1968. 15/-
BETWEEN September 1962 and December 1964 there was published
in the issues of Caribbean Quarterly a series entitled "Documents which
have guided educational policy in the West Indies." This series has
now been collected in one cover under the title: "Reports and Reper-
cussions in West Indian Education 1835-1933."
There is rather more of 'reports' in this work than of 'repercussions.'
It is not a history and is not claimed to be. Major extracts from eight
reports on education in the West Indies and Guyana occupy 130 out of
186 pages, index etc. apart, the rest being devoted to commentary.
The commentary is divided into sections with the following
Reports and the Reporters; The main topics of the Reports; Agencies
and the control of Education; Purposes and methods of Primary,
Secondary and Further Education; Teachers and their Status; and
Ways and Means. Each report is discussed briefly under these
The reader with a knowledge of educational history, British as well
as West Indian, will get most from the book but others will profit too.
Fortunately, reading it is not an imposition: the whole effort, both
commentary and the reports themselves, is characterized by a liveliness
not always found in material of this kind.
Professor Gordon hits a nail on the head when she says that
historians profit most from the description of the schools and teachers
than from recommendations a comment which she makes in respect
of Sterling and Keenan but which, the necessary changes being made,
is applicable to almost all of the reports. My point is that most of them
result from a recognition that the education systems need improvement
and the formulation in certain minds of notions of what the changes
should be. The reporter may test his notions by visits to schools or by
personal interviews but he rarely comes up, as a result of this process,
with any new conclusions. If, as in the obvious cases of Keenan and
Bishop Mitchinson, the reporter is a liberal, the resistance offered by
the ruling classes to the advancement of the masses is proof against
follow-up action that may cost much money or change in status quo.
All the reports call for education that is relevant to the real
opportunities awaiting the pupils. Education should concern itself
with the facts of West Indian life.
Mitchinson quotes the strength and influence gained by the
aristocracy of England by frequently recruiting its members from the
middle classes, and a phrase like "the lower social stratum" runs easily
from his pen. It is therefore important to stress that even those
reporters that appear to be advanced in their thinking are limited by
nineteenth century concepts of the ordering of society and cannot
anticipate the headstrong ambitions of the twentieth century. Where
Mitchinson accepts without question an aristocracy, mid-twentieth
century West Indians seem to prefer a meritocracy.
All the reporters are themselves committed to education whatever
they mean by it and where they are practitioners or come to their
task with some understanding of good school procedures, they have
some appreciation for efficiency. They, therefore, need have no hesita-
tion in calling the tunes, even if the tunes sound grandiose; but they
know deep in their hearts (they must) that no one is going to pay the
piper. But perhaps this is not quite so, for, as Professor Gordon
reminds us in her Chapter on Ways and Means, "the whole proceeding
began (and no doubt continued) as a miscalculation of the cost of
In this connection, the Lumb Report is unique. It does not deserve
the argument at page 6 that seeks to redeem it from being regarded
mainly as a "set of proposals for disastrous cheese-paring." This argu-
ment ignores the short-sighted attempt that followed directly on the
report to limit annual recurrent expenditure on education in Jamaica
to 60,000. We are not therefore devaluing Archbishop Nuttall's well
earned reputation for intelligence and integrity when we suggest that
his committee must be seen as agents of Joseph Chamberlain, who "in
various despatches addressed to one or other of the West Indian
colonies, pointed out the necessity of reducing" expenditure on educa-
tion "or at least of applying it in a more effective and therefore in-
directly in a more productive manner." These are the Secretary of
State's own words. But if he had been serious about efficiency as we
would wish to take him he would have seen from various reports of his
local superintendents of education how difficult a task he was setting
them with so little provision; he would have pondered on the danger
of grossly under-capitalising the educational service. There was no
equivalent of the Lumb Report in Barbados, but the Barbadians were
at about the same time advised to reduce their educational expenditure,
and the Assembly set a limit of 11,000. Fortunately, in both islands
wiser counsels soon prevailed. What is of real importance is not what
the Lumb commissioners were concerned with, but the restrictive
attitudes they underwrote. And this was bad. Even so, the confidential
comments of the then superintending officer of education in Jamaica,
Thomas Capper, which were forwarded to the Secretary of State, reveal
less respect for the impartiality of the Report than today's readers may
feel towards it. He says:- "No request was made to any officer of
the Department to suggest any witness whose evidence would have for
any reason been valuable In consequence of the way it went to work
the Commission failed to get the greater part of the best evidence -
and much of the evidence given was unduly biassed or altogether value-
less..." Capper was wasting his time.
The question of funds and qualified personnel looms large, and we
are enabled as we read to see something of our long conditioning to the
acceptance of low educational standards and spending no more on that
service than we could afford absolutely without pain. It must be con-
ceded, however, that this is not true of all the territories for all of the
time. As Prof. Gordon points out, "Frugality was accepted as a condi-
tion of elementary education during most of the nineteenth century
and an imperative at the close of the century." Students of West
Indian education and sociology and everyone in the field of teacher
training in the area should read the book. So should educational
planners. Undoubtedly, the reports "still need discussion as a guide to
educational development;" they have so far been too little known.
The strongest impression that one is left with after going through
this book is that of a need for a definitive history of education in the
West Indies. It whets the appetite of the serious student. If Prof.
Gordon had had the time to provide a connected sketch and to relate
the reports to it (and she is better able than most to do this), the book
would have been greatly enhanced in value.
R. N. MURRAY
The Sun's Eye West Indian Writing for Young Readers
compiled by Anne Walmsley, pp. 136 (Longmans 8/2d, 1968)
ANNE WALMSLEY used to teach English to the first three forms
of a girls' secondary school in Jamaica; and this anthology was born,
she tells us, out of that practical experience. Sixteen poems and
fourteen prose passages comprise the selection. The items are thought-
fully arranged; so that, although there are no teaching notes, com-
parisons suggest themselves.
Frank Collymore's "Hymn to the Sea" leads into George Lamming's
superb prose, "Catching Crabs," in which a boy is rescued from drown-
ing. All three poems which follow Edward Brathwaite's "The
Pawpaw," Evan Jones' "Song of the Banana Man," Agnes Maxwell-Hall's
'Jamaica Market" are in some way linked to agriculture, but the
poems are very different in kind. Then we encounter Timothy
Callender's humorous short-story "An Honest Thief," which revolves
around a coveted bunch of bananas (thus relating to the three poems
preceding) and contrasts in style with the Lamming passage which is
also about a Barbadian piece of life. Neville Dawes' poem "Acceptance"
celebrates Jamaican country life (and people), H. D. Carberry's "Nature"
(poem) evokes Jamaican landscape and climate. It ends, "And beauty
comes suddenly and the rains have gone." Immediately Michael
Anthony's sensitive prose describes "When the Rain came" (Trinidad)
Which is followed by John Hearne's tense hurricane. The A. J. Seymour
sonnet, next, suggests the possibility that Guiana rivers cover old Dutch
plantations nature attacking man and man-made things, nature
obliterating history. V S. Reid's non-fiction piece on "Anniversary at
Carlisle Bay" brings history (1694) vividly to life, setting it against the
present scene: "A furtive army of crabs scuttled through the mud.
They dived for holes or took cover under the twisted roots of mangrove."
The mud and mangrove recall the Seymour poem; the crabs throw back
to Lamming. After Reid's piece on "the most serious attempt at capture
that Jamaica had undergone since the British occupation began in 1655"
we go straight into a Martin Carter poem about the British military
occupation of Guiana in 1953:
This is the dark time, my love
all around the land brown beetles crawl about
In the Namba Roy passage the Maroon woman who brings bad news is
old and full of fear; Samuel Selvon's "Village Washer" is old and black
and strong. Then A. L. Hendriks' "Old Jamaican Woman thinks about
the Hereafter." "Linda's Bedtime," and Andrew Salkey, involves the
child in family relationships, as does Geoffrey Drayton's "In Search of
Snails" which mentions obeah, a significant element in the Selvon story
Drayton's narrator "ran down the slope to the banana-trees and the
fat, friendly green lizards." K. E. Ingram's poem is called "Lizard."
Across to "June Bug," a poem by Edward Lucle-Smith. Family rela-
tionships again, in prose from Lauchmonen, Jan Carew (both describing
Guyanese life) and F D. Weller (Jamaica). After Weller's symbolic
peacocks, Dennis Scott's symbolic "Bird", then Philip Sherlock's "Test
Pilot 1951" ("Bird-free from encaging circumstance") who
For a split-second there beyond time and space
Wilson Harris' Hector mounts a black horse and holds him
with the sun for a saddle and a bit made of stars.
His "ultimate horse of darkness leaves earth's doors ajar." Ralph
Prince tells a wry folk-tale of a pact with the devil. "World's End," by
Roger Mais, examines a peasant's reaction to the death of his donkey.
E. M. Roach's "Homestead" is in praise of peasants:
Poets and artists turn again,
Construct your cunning tapestries
Upon the ages of their acres,
The endless labours of their years
And, finally, Derek Walcott, in "As John to Patmos," swearing "to praise
lovelong the living and the brown dead.
This anthology, then, is arranged like a single integrated work of
art. The passages and poems vary, of course, in quality, but the
general standard is high; and the pattern of comparisons which should
emerge naturally in class must have been a most important part of the
compiler's intention. Any West Indian child would find here passages
which relate closely to his own experience. But he will also find
passages and poems which seek to involve him in Caribbean experience
outside his immediate life and environment. The range includes
Guyanese riceflelds, a village in Trinidad, a Barbadian plantation, a
Maroon settlement; catching crabs, hunting snails; hurricane, a pilot,
soldiers, obeah, prayers, death.
This inexpensive book is attractively produced. Its clear type is
easy to read, and the spacing is generous. The illustrations by Dennis
Ranston are bold and interesting; they should be a positive aid to the
children's involvement and are worth discussing in class. Instead of
offering dry biographical information, Miss Walmsley has got the
authors themselves to talk or write, often engagingly, about themselves
and their own work.
Our recent outstanding school anthologies have been directed at
the middle school upwards. The Sun's Eye deserves to be very widely
used throughout the Caribbean, for the early forms of secondary
The World of
'A House for Mr. Biswas'
V. S. NAIPAUL'S A House for Mr. Biswas (1964) takes the form
of fictive biography, beginning with the inauspicious birth of Mr. Biswas
in an obscure village, and ending with his death in the city forty-six
years later. But Naipaul elects to explore and interpret the life and
achievement of Mr. Biswas against a dense and changing background:
the fiction also represents, in less depth, the life of the Tulsis, an
Indian family into which Mr. Biswas came to be married. Inevitably
the novel has been seen as providing a picture of Indian life in the
West Indies, with Hanuman House, the Tulsi family residence at
Arwacas, becoming representative: "Before Mr Biswas, the West In-
dian East Indian was without feature or voice. Now we know more
about Hanuman House than we do about Brandt's Pen [in John
Hearne's novels] or the Village of Love [in a novel by Merrill
Ferguson]."' In fact, the kind of family life represented at Hanuman
House no longer exists in Trinidad. A brief account of the outer
socio-historical situation upon which the novel draws may be useful.
After Negro Emancipation, India became the main overseas source
of cheap labour for the British sugar islands: between 1839 and 1917
no fewer than 416,000 indentured Indians were imported as sub-
stitutes for the freed Negroes. These new slaves were procured in the
poverty-stricken districts of India; most of them were transported
to Guyana (239,000) and to Trinidad (134,000) where labour problems
had been particularly acute.2 Today, descendants of Indians comprise
49 per cent of the population of Guyana and 35 per cent of that of
Trinidad. Writing about the social structure of Guyana, a sociolo-
gist who has spent many years in the area generalises about the
Indians: "In 1917 the system of organised immigration ceased, and
after that time very few people entered the country from India.
Even during the nineteenth century there had been a marked tendency
for Indian languages to be replaced by the Guianese lower-class
dialect of English, and now this process was accelerated until today
Indian languages are practically never used except on ritual
occasions when they are about as widely understood as Latin is
among Roman Catholics in England. The same thing happened in
other fields of culture, such as dress, home furnishing, and recrea-
tional activities. This process of 'creolisation' affected nearly all
aspects of life so that customs and forms of social structure which
superficially appear to be entirely 'Indian' are in fact sharply modi-
fied by the local environment."3 The same general process of 'creolisa-
fion' has taken place in Trinidad, possibly at a faster rate than in
But at first, the Indians kept to themselves, and the better off
ones retained a family life in many respects similar to that fictionalised
in A House for Mr. Biswas:
The organisation of the Tulsi house was simple. Mrs. Tulsi
had only one servant, a negro woman who was called Blackie
by Seth and Mrs. Tulsi, and Miss Blackie by everyone else.
Miss Blackie's duties were vague. The daughters and their
children swept and washed and cooked and served in the
store. The husbands, under Seth's supervision, worked on the
Tulsi land, looked after Tulsi animals, and served in the store.
In return they were given food, shelter, and a little money;
their children were looked after; and they were treated with
respect by people outside because they were connected with
the Tulsi family. Their names were forgotten; they became
(A House for Mr Biswas, pp. 87-88)
The quotation comes from the earlier section of a novel that
covers a period of forty-six years-the span of Mr. Biswas' life. Over
this fictional period, Naipaul chronicles the dissolution of Tulsi
family life. The closing chapters are set in the city, Port of Spain,
where in a crowded house owned by Mrs. Tulsi, the Tulsi daughters
and their husbands coexist with one another as separate economic
units, and the children are involved in the colonial scramble for
In the house the crowding became worse. Basdai, the widow,
who had occupied the servant room as a base for a financial
assault on the city, gave up that plan and decided instead
to take-in boarders and lodgers from Shorthills. The widows
were now almost frantic to have their children educated. There
was no longer a Hanuman House to protect them: everyone
had to fight for hTmself in a new world, the world Owad and
Shekhar had entered, where education was the only pro-
tection. As fast as the children graduated from the infant
school at Shorthills they were sent to Port of Spain. Basdai
(A House for Mr Biswas, p. 393)
A House for Mr. Biswas has resonances we would not expect in a
sociologist's account. Basdai, for instance, is being satirised for the
profit motive, and the throngs of children become functions of Mr.
Biswas' agrophobia; but the rapid disintegration of the Tulsi out
post following their momentous move from Arwacas to Shorthills
corresponds to the break-up of Indian family life described by Naipaul
himself in a non-fictional work:
The family life I have been describing began to dissolve when
I was six or seven; when I was fourteen it had ceased to exist.
Between my brother, twelve years younger than myself and
me there is more than a generation of difference. He can have
no memory of that private world which survived with such
apparent solidity up to only twenty-five years ago, a world
which had lengthened out, its energy of inertia steadily weak-
ening from the featureless area of darkness which was India.4
In the novel, we date the abandonment of Hanuman House as
somewhere between 1941 and 1945; so close does the novel's calendar
run to the factual one.
More important than this kind of accuracy is the way in which
Naipaul uses the Tulsi cultural hulk in the creation of nightmare
world for Mr. Biswas; but not to be aware that Hanuman House
represents something in the Trinidad Indian past; and not to be
aware of the sense in which A House for Mr. Biswas is a historical
novel is to follow Brathwaite (in the article already cited)
[I]n the world of Hanuman House, we have the first novel
[from the West Indies] whose basic theme is not rootlessness
and the search for social identity; in A House for Mr. Biswas
we have at last a novel whose central character is clearly
defined and who is really trying to get in rather than get out.5
A 'House for Mr. Biswas I would suggest is the West Indian novel
of rootlessness par excellence. We are in a better position to
take this view if we recognize the novel's historicity. For convenience
the case may be put like this: Mr. Biswas is an Indian who marries
into an Indian enclave in Trinidad between the Wars: he recognizes
the blinkered insulation of this world and he senses its immi-
nent dissolution. He spends most of his life trying to escape its
embrace, only to find that the future, the colonial society upon which
he wishes to make his mark, is as yet uncreated. Mr. Biswas struggles
between the tepid chaos of a decaying culture and the void of a
colonial society. To put it like this is to gloss C. L. R. James' remark
that "after reading A House for Mr. Biswas many of our people have
a deeper understanding of the West Indies than they did before'.6
It is necessary to get our background information right in order to
avoid misinterpreting novels like A House for Mr. Biswas. But I want
to approach the work as an imaginative response to social phenomena,
examining the texture of the fictional world in which Mr. Biswas
toils, and his characteristic responses to it.
Before introducing the Tulsis, Naipaul establishes the insignifi-
cance of Mr. Biswas' birth and the lack of prospects before him. The
author's chronicling voice relentlessly anticipates a visit by the adult
Mr. Biswas to the place of his birth where he finds only "oil derricks
and grimy pumps, see-sawing, see-sawing, endlessly, surrounded by
red No Smoking notices" (p. 38) Frustrated by a series of unsatis-
factory jobs, and languishing in the back trace at Pagotes, Mr. Biswas
discovers romance in the novels of Hall Caine and Marie Corelli, and
becomes an addict of Samuel Smiles:
Samuel Smiles was as romantic and satisfying as any
novelist, and Mr. Biswas saw himself in many Samuel Smiles
heroes: he was young, he was poor, and he fancied he was
struggling. But there always came a point when resemblance
ceased. The heroes had rigid ambitions and lived in countries
where ambitions could be pursued and had a meaning. He had
no ambition, and in this hot land, apart from opening a shop
or buying a motorbus, what could he do? What could he invent?
(A House for Mr. Biswas, p. 71)
Mr. Biswas differs in being literate, but his frustration is similar in
conditioning to the frustration of the deprived characters in other
West Indian novels like Roger Mais' The Hills Were Joyful Together
(1953) and Austin Clarke's Survivors of the Crossing (1964) The
difference between social comment and fictive generation begins to
emerge, however, when we follow Mr. Biswas on his job-hunting walk
along the Main road of Pagotes:
He passed dry goods shops-strange name: dry goods,-
and the rickety little rooms bulged with dry goods, things like
pans and plates and bolts of cloth and cards of bright pins and
boxes of thread and shirts on hangers and brand-new oil lamps
and hammers and saws and clothes-pegs and everything else,
the wreckage of a turbulent flood which appeared to have
forced the doors of the shops open and left deposits of dry
goods on tables and on the ground outside. The owners remain-
ed in their shops, lost in the gloom and wedged between dry
goods. The assistants stood outside with pencils behind their
ears or pencils tapping bill-pads with the funereally coloured
carbon paper peeping out from under the first sheet. Grocers'
shops, smelling damply of oil, sugar, and salted fish. Vegetable
stalls, damp but fresh and smelling of earth. Grocers' wives
and children stood oily and confident behind counters. The
women behind the vegetable stalls were old and correct with
their mournful faces; or they were young and plump with
challenging and quarrelsome stares; with a big-eyed child or
two hanging about behind the purple sweet potatoes to which
dirt still clung; and babies in the background lying in con-
densed milk boxes.
(A House for Mr Biswas, p. 63)
Naipaul's intense observation of the superficies of things becomes the
character's vision of a world that is dingy, over-crowded and smelly,
with inconsequential objects and derelict human beings stranded in
gloom and grease. Mr. Biswas' response to this world is nausea:
Few persons now held him. Some features always finally re-
pelled, a tone of voice, a quality of skin, an over-sensuous hang of
lip; one such lip had grown coarse and obscene in a dream which
left him feeling unclean." (p. 71) But Naipaul also plants in Mr.
Biswas an unquenchable hope; "He had begun to wait, not only for
love, but for the world to yield its sweetness and romance. He de-
ferred all his pleasure in life until that day" (p. 73)
With the introduction of the Tulsis, Naipaul makes Mr. Biswas'
world even more coarse-grained, chaotic, over-crowded and suffo-
cating. Waiting for the appearance of Mrs. Tulsi, Mr. Biswas is assault-
ed by the disposition of the Tulsi furniture:
The most important piece of furniture in the hall was a long
unvarnished pitch-pine table, hard-grained and chipped. A
hammock made from sugarsacks hung across one corner of the
room. An old sewing machine, a baby chair and a black
biscuit-drum occupied another corner. Scattered about were a
number of unrelated chairs, stools and benches, one of which,
low and carved with rough ornamentation from a solid block
of cyp wood, still had 'the saffron colour which told that it
had been used at a wedding ceremony. More elegant pieces-
a dresser, a piano so buried among papers and baskets and
other things that it was unlikely it was ever used-choked the
staircase landing. On the other side of the hall there was a
loft of curious construction. It was as if an enormous drawer
had been pulled out of the top of the wall; the vacated space,
dark and dusty, was crammed with all sorts of articles Mr.
Biswas couldn't distinguish.
(A House for Mr. Biswas, p. 70, my italics)
Earlier, he had noticed the Tulsi kitchen: "It was lower than the
hall and appeared to be completely without light. The doorway gaped
black; soot stained the wall about it and the ceiling just above, so
that blackness seemed to fill the kitchen like a solid substance" (pp.
78-79). This world threatens to embrace and absorb Mr. Biswas, and
Naipaul sets the stage with a highly suggestive description of Hanuman
Among the tumbledown timber-and-corrugated-iron buildings
in the High Street of Arwacas, Hanuman House stood like an
alien white fortress. Tre concrete walls looked as thick as they
were, and when the narrow doors of the Tulsi Store on the
ground floor were closed the House became bulky, impregnable
and blank. The side walls were windowless, and on the upper
two floors the windows were mere slits in the facade. The
balustrade which hedged the flat roof was crowned with a
concrete statue of the benevolent monkey-god Hanuman.
From the ground his white-washed features could scarcely
be distinguished and were, if anything, slightly sinister, for
dust had settled on projections and the effect was that of a
face lit up from below.
(A House for Mr. Biswas, p. 73)
There is a great deal in this passage, but it is worth noting especially,
the way in which the description of Tulsi objects automatically sug-
gests the Tulsi people ("thick narrow blank", and the rich
"hedged" which not only suggests their insulation but connects
with the animal imagery Naipaul uses when establishing the Tulsis);
next, the passage contains simultaneously both the protective
("fortress impregnable hedged") and the suffocating aspects
of the Tulsis House ("thick bulky blank windowless
mere slits") The passage has relevance also to the Tulsis' out of
date Hinduism: the explicit "alien" is followed by a reference to the
monkey-god Hanuman (in effect, a ridiculing reference) which iden-
tifies the alienness of the House as its Indian pretension. But that
the features of the god should be "whitewashed" and that "dust
had settled on projections" contribute to our sense of the Indian
culture being already out of date. More broadly, the way in which
the House stands out from "among the tumble-down timber-and-cor-
rugated-iron buildings"-the surrounding dereliction-suggests that it
too cannot be far from decay. More impressionistically there seem to
be suggestions of a huge bark, hatches closed, and becalmed. All these
intimations of decay, it seems to me, are caught up in the ambiguity
of the word "facade"
Into this specious world, Mr. Biswas is lured by the unlikely siren,
Shama: "She was of medium height, slender but firm, with fine
features, and though he disliked her voice, he was enchanted by her
smile" (pp. 74-75) But the rapid dismantling of illusion after illusion
is another feature of the world Naipaul fashions for Mr. Biswas. Not
even fantasy is safe from this process: Mr. Biswas' unfinished short
stories of meetings with a slim, unkissed, barren heroine go sour after
a visit to Bhandat who has in fact deserted a wife to live with the
unknown in the person of a Chinese woman. The couple of romance
are found living in squalour, and "Mr. Biswas, thinking of deafness,
dumbness, insanity, the horror of the sexual act in that grimy room,
felt the yellow cake turn to a sweet, slippery paste in his mouth" (p.
40) Similarly, Mr. Biswas' excited arrival in the city is swiftly suc-
ceeded by disillusion in a backwater:
Up to this time the city had been new and held an ex-
pectation which not even the deadest two o'clock sun could
destroy. Anything could happen: he might meet his barren
heroine, the past could be undone, he would be remade. But
now not even the thought of the Sentinel's presses, rolling
out of that moment reports of speeches, banquets, funerals
(with all the names and decorations carefully checked) could
keep him from seeing that the city was no more than a repeti-
tion of this: this dark, dingy cafe, the chipped counter, the
flies thick on the electric flex, the empty Coca Cola cases
stacked in a corner, the cracked glasscase, the shopkeeper pick-
ing his teeth, waiting to close.
(A House for Mr Bisowas, p. 341)
It is in keeping with the pattern of hope, illusion, disillusion and
nausea that even before the wedding to Shama, Mr. Biswas' swan
should turn into a Tulsi hen.
But if Naipaul gives Mr. Biswas a faith in life against all the
evidence, so that he keeps coming back, the author also en-
dows his protagonist with a capacity for experiencing, for res-
ponding to the tiniest tremor as if it were a cataclysm. Both
qualities operate to prevent Mr. Biswas from being entirely the figure
of pathos his author wants him to be, no more so than in the Tulsi
section of the novel. For when he is lured into the Tulsi bog by their
fairest flower, Mr. Biswas comes at last within striking distance of an
Although Chapter 3 'The Tulsis' and the next three chapters, 'The
Chase', 'Green Vale' and 'A Departure' take up just over 200 pages
of a 531 page novel, this section dominates most readers' impressions
of the work. It is not difficult to see why. It is in this section that
Naipaul establishes the Tulsis in their characteristic attitudes: Mrs.
Tulsi's dramatic faint, and her foxy intimacies: Seth in bluchers and
stained Khaki topee, a black notebook and ivory cigarette holder
sticking out of his khaki shirt pocket; the spoilt Tulsi sons jerking
into studious, stern, grave or querulous looks as occasion demands;
Hari the household pundit posed enigmatically over his holy books;
and Shama, Mr. Biswas' wife sighing her Tulsi sigh and wearing her
martyred look. In addition to these vivid shorthands for individuals,
there are the group characterizations; "the sisters", "the eaters" at
the communal table, "the sleepers" unfolding beds in every available
space, and "the children" who turn up everywhere. Then there are
the events in the Tulsi year-deaths, weddings, prayer-meetings and
Christmas-at each of which there is a set pattern of behaviour. In
this section of the novel, too, Naipaul renders characteristic Tulsi
sounds (children being beaten, eaters chewing, sisters chit-chatting
about husbands' illnesses) and smells (of Tulsi "bad food", and Mrs.
Tulsi's medicaments, "bay rum, soft candles, Canadian Healing Oil,
ammonia") Since Naipaul's art relies heavily on repetition or allusion
to something already established, each episode consolidates our first
impression of the crowded, noisy, ritualized life and single-attribute
The most obvious danger for a novelist operating in this way is
that his people may become card-board figures, uninteresting with
successive exposures, and may even be felt to be unfairly-handled
victims of an omniscient author. Naipaul does not seem to escape the
dilemma altogether in A House for Mr. Biswas, but in the chapters
under discussion several factors combine to animate the Tulsis. In
the first place they are seen from the outside by a Mr. Biswas whose
sensitivity converts them into sinister antagonists. The apparent Tulsi
inaction after Mrs. Tulsi finds his love-letter to Shama is full of menace
to Mr. Biswas, and when at last they make their move, Naipaul con-
veys the impression of secret doings in military chambers:
Just before four, when the store closed and Mr. Biswas stopped
work, Seth came looking as though he had spent the day in the
fields. He wore muddy blutchers and a stained Khaki topee; in
the pocket of his sweated Khaki shirt he carried a black note
book and an ivory cigarette holder. He went to Mr. Biswas and
said in a tone of gruff authority, 'The old lady want to see you
before you go.'
Mr. Biswas' response is that of a condemned man:
Mr. Biswas resented the tone, and was disturbed that Seth had
spoken to him in English. Saying nothing, he came down the
ladder and washed out his brushes, doing his soundless whistling
while Seth stood over him. The front doors were bolted and
barred and the Tulsi store became dark and warm and pro-
(A House for Mr. Biswas, p. 78)
The long silent walk through the Tulsi courtyard past the black
kitchen and into the furniture-crowded hall follows. And when a creak
on the staircase almost melodramatically announces the entry of Mrs.
Tulsi, things begin to move too fast for Mr. Biswas. Each of Mrs. Tulsi's
question and statement sequences is followed by an increase of Tulsi
background noises, or by the robot-like-functioning of a Tulsi insider,
until at the end Mr. Biswas feels faces of Tulsi women and Tulsi
children closing in upon him.
Nalpaul's strategy of presenting the first interview with the Tulsis
in these terms, through Mr. Biswas' apprehensive and unaccustomed
eyes is followed by the duelling that takes place between Mr. Biswas
and the Tulsi high command. Mr. Biswas begins with name-calling that
builds upon Naipaul's earlier disposition of the characters. As Mr.
Mr. Biswas is too frightened at first to show his hand he carries on
these name-calling sessions only when he is alone with his wife:7
'I got a name for another one of your brother-in-laws,' he
told Shama that evening, lying on his blanket, his right foot
on his left knee, peeling off a broken nail from his big toe. 'The
constipated holy man.'
'Hari?' she said, and pulled herself up, realising that she
had begun to take part in the game.
He slapped his yellow, flabby calf and pushed his finger
into the flesh. The calf yielded like sponge.
She pulled his hand away. 'Don't do that. I can't bear to
see you do that. You should be ashamed, a young man like you
being so soft."
'That is all the bad food I eating in this place.' He was still
holding her hand. 'Well, as a matter of fact, I have quite a few
names for him. The holy ghost. You like that?'
'And what about the two gods? It ever strike you that they
look like two monkeys. So, you have one concrete monkey-god
outside the house and two living ones inside. They could just
call this place the monkey house and finish. Eh, monkey, bull,
cow, hen. The place is like a blasted zoo, man.'
'And what about you? The barking puppy dog?"
'Man's best friend?' He flung up his legs and his thin slack
calves shook. With a push of his finger he kept the calves
'Stop doing that!'
By now Shama's head was on his soft arm and they were
lying side by side.
(A House for Mr. Biswas, p. 108)
But Mr. Biswas' sniping at the Tulsis is part of a contest. They can
come back at him. He tells Govind that he wants to paddle his own
canoe only to find himself being called "the paddler" and his daughter
Savi, "the little paddler" Seth who fills in the details on Savi's birth
certificate knows just where Mr. Biswas is most vulnerable:
Suddenly he jumped up. "What the hell is this?"
He showed her the certificate. 'Look. Occupation of father.
Labourer. Labourer! Me. Where your family get all this bad
'I didn't see that?'
Trust Seth. Look. Name of informant: R. N. Seth. Occupa-
tion: Estate Manager.'
'I wonder why he do that.'
(A House for Mr. Biswas, pp. 146-147)
This give and take between Mr. Biswas and the Tulsis provides much
of the fun in A House for Mr. Biswas, and gives life to both con-
testants. It also provides a cover, and indeed a mood for Naipaul's
animus, for the fierce authorial establishing and fixing of characters
in terms of objects and animals is just held under control by the
fetching and carrying that goes on between the omniscient author and
the clowning, scurrilous character.
But it seems to me that when the Tulsi clan begins to disintegrate,
and Hanuman house ceases to be a threat to Mr. Biswas, the author's
attitudes begin to show too obtrusively as his own: instead of a duelling
between Mr. Biswas and the Tulsis we have their routing by a biased
omniscient author. Naipaul renders the apocalyptic sense of the Tulsi
dissolution with skill, but chokes our response to it. A long paragraph
of authorial reportage precedes the Tulsis' move from Arwacas to a
new estate at Shorthllls:
Shama heard its glories listed again and again. In the
grounds of the estate house there was a cricket field and a
swimming pool; the drive was lined with orange trees and gri-
gri palms with slender white trunks, red berries and dark
green leaves. The land itself was a wonder. The saman trees
and lianas so strong and supple that one would swing on them.
All day the immortelle trees dropped their red and yellow bird-
shaped flowers through which one could whistle like a bird.
Cocoa trees grew in the shade of the immortelles, coffee in the
shade of the cocoa and the hills were covered with tonka bean.
Fruit trees, mango, orange, avocado pear, were so plentiful as
to seem wild. And there were nutmeg trees, as well as cedar,
poui and the bois-canot which was so light yet so springy and
strong it made you a better cricket bat than the willow.
The sisters spoke of the hills, the sweet springs and
hidden waterfalls with all the excitement of people who had
known only the hot open plain, the flat acres of sugarcane and
the muddy ricelands. Even if one did not have a way with land
as they had, if you did nothing, life could be rich at Shorthills.
There was talk of dairy farming, there was talk of growing
grapefruit. More particularly, there was talk of rearing sheep,
and of an idyllic project of giving one sheep to every child as
his very own, the foundation it was made to appear, of fabu-
lous wealth. And there were horses on the estates: the children
would learn to ride.
(A House for Mr Biswas, pp. 353-354.)
The passage begins insidiously with what looks like sympathetic in-
fection, but ends with the most uncontaminated detachment. Naipaul
works up the sisters' feverish excitement about the new estate only
to mock their inflated expectations and degrade them with the money
motive. (It is interesting to notice that all the trees over which the
sisters are reportedly idyllic are useful). How much more effective and
balanced the deflation through Mr. Biswas is, may be illustrated from
the part of the novel where Mrs. Tulsi takes Mr. Biswas on a tour
of the new property (pp. 356-360) In the following exchange at the
beginning of the walking tour with Mrs. Tulsi, the anti-Tulsi points
are scored lightly:
Mr. Biswas waved at the forlorn little cemetery and the dirt
lane which, past a few tumbledown houses, disappeared behind
bush and apparently led only to more bush and the mountain
which rose at the end 'Estate?' he asked.
Mrs. Tulsi smiled. 'And on this side.' She waved at the other
side of the road.
Beyond a deep gully, whose sides were sheer, whose bed was
strewn with boulders, stones and pebbles, perfectly graded, Mr.
Biswas saw more bush, more mountains. 'A lot of bamboo,' he
said. 'You could start a paper factory.'
(A House for Mr. Biswas, pp.357-358)
More passages like this, and fewer in which the authorial voice becomes
directly involved in deflating the Tulsis might have allowed the Tulsis'
attempt to take the place of the departed French Creole estate owners
to appear as what it is-the inadequate and pathetic rumblings of a
group that has been turned inwards too long to be able to cope with
changing conditions. But while elements of this may be discerned in
the presentation, the emphasis is elsewhere.
How the Tulsi side gathers momentum after the move to Shorthills
is relentlessly conveyed. First, Mrs. Tulsi withdraws into congenial
darkness, "her window closed, the room sealed against light
and air"- then three deaths in quick succession deprive the organisa-
tion even further of its ancient figures of authority. With the high
command broken, Tulsi husbands turn individualist and plunder the
falling empire, while defenceless Tulsi widows cook up one blighted
economic project after another. At this point it is clear that the object
of Naipaul's satire is changing from static communalism to the new
colonial individualism. While this gives a kind of back-flip of sympathy
to the old Tulsi way of life (this is supported by Mr. Biswas' recog-
nition, at times of unbalancing stress, of the protectiveness even of
Hanuman House), Naipaul does not allow the mood to develop.
The author turns the Tulsi retreat to Shorthills into an invasion
(p. 361) the villagers band against them (368-369), and Tulsi mis-
management ravages and depletes the once fair land. At the climax,
Naipaul directs our responses by reflecting the ruins of the Tulsi estab-
lishment in a surrounding dereliction we are persuaded they them-
selves are guilty of having created:
The canal at the side of the drive was at last completely silted
over and the rain, which ran down the hillside in torrents after
the briefest shower, flooded the flat land. The gully, no longer
supported by the roots, began to be eaten away. The old man's
beard was deprived of a footing; its thin tangled roots hung
over the banks like a threadbare carpet. The gully bed, washed
clean of black soil and the plants that grew on it, showed sandy,
then pebbly, then rocky. It could no longer be forded by the
ca and the car stayed on the road. The sisters were puzzled by
the erosion, which seemed to them sudden; but they accepted
it as part of their fate.
(A House for Mr. Biswas, p. 377)
Naipaul describes "The Shorthills Adventure" as a climactic passage,
but a climactic passage in what turns out to have been only a mock-
saga: "Bells were rung and gongs were struck, but the luck, the virtue,
had gone out of the family" (p. 377). Out of the dissolution the second
and third generation of Tulsis emerge into the wider colonial world.
But in dealing with the individualism of the new Tulsis in Port of
Spain, Naipaul turns them into vulgar materialists, and their children
into half-baked readers and learners. Although we are dealing with
the death of one way of life and the beginning of another, Naipaul
does not permit us to imagine the Tulsis as capable either of shock
or excitement.8 To put it like this is perhaps to oversimplify and over-
state the case. But if hostility to the Tulsi characters is in excess of,
and prolonged beyond the rhetorical requirements of the novel, this
is a blemish that A House for Mr Biswas survives. To take notice of it,
nevertheless, is to raise doubts about the satirist's imaginative ability
to transcend his real life attitudes to the people upon whom the fic-
tional characters are modelled.
There is another way in which the author's over-indulgence in a
point of view initially attributed to the character threatens the balance
of the novel. It is appropriate that Mr. Biswas should see his world as
a sordid one, but the frequency with which he is made to do so lends
emphasis to the novel's apparently gratuitous descriptions of decay,
diseases, squalour and blight. About Mr. Biswas' garden, we read:
"Untended, the rose trees grew straggly and hard. A blight made their
stems white and gave them sickly, illformed leaves. The buds opened
slowly to reveal blanched, tattered blooms covered with minute insects;
other insects built bright brown domes on the stems. The lily-pond
collapsed again and the lily-roots rose brown and shaggy out of the
thick muddy water which was white with bubbles." (p. 340) And of Mr.
Biswas' flesh we are told: "His face was puffy. His complexion grew
dark; not the darkness of a naturally dark skin, not the darkness of
sunburn: this was a darkness that seemed to come from within, as
though the skin was a murky but transparent film and the flesh below
it had been bruised and became diseased and its corruption was rising."
(p. 529) To suggest that the author's obsession with decay seeps
into the novel at too many crevices is not to be squeamish. It is rather
to Imply that in addition to dampeners already built into the structure
of the novel, the work's affirmation has to be made against gratuitous
local manifestations of Naipaul's temperament.
Very near the end of A House for Mr Biswas, the protagonist
acquires his house and gains land in a boundary dispute: "In the extra
space Mr. Biswas planted a laburnham tree. It grew rapidly. It gave
the house a romantic aspect, softened the tall graceless lines and pro-
vided some shelter from the afternoon sun. Its flowers were sweet, and
in the still hot evenings their smell filled the house" (p. 526) The
Epilogue immediately following this triumphant moment restores a
bleak perspective by describing Mr. Biswas' loss of status, his ageing,
his sickness and his unremarked death. A similar delimiting function
is served by the Prologue in which Mr. Biswas' achievement is rendered
more effectively in negative terms-as an escape from the Tulsl
He thought of the house as his own, though for years it had
been irretrievably mortgaged. And during these months of ill-
ness and despair he was struck again and again by the wonder
of being in his own house, the audacity of it: to walk in
through his own front gate, to bar entry to whoever he wished,
to close his doors and windows every night, to hear no noises
except those of his family, to wander freely from room to room
and about his yard instead of being condemned, as before, to
retire the moment he got home to the crowded room in one or
other of Mrs. Tulsi's houses, crowded with Shama's sisters,
their husbands, their children. As a boy he had moved from one
house of strangers to another; and since his marriage he felt
he had lived nowhere but in the houses of the Tulsis, at
Hanuman House in Arwacas, in the decaying wooden house at
Shorthills, in the clumsy concrete house in Port of Spain. And
now at the end he found himself in his own houses on his
own half-lot of land, his own portion of the earth. That he
should have been responsible for this seemed to him, in these
last months, stupendous.
(A House for Mr. Biswas, p. 8)
In the story related to Mr Biswas by an oyster man, the man's son
puts a tin on a fence and shoots it down: "'Pa', he say. 'Look. I shoot
work. I shoot ambition. They dead.'" And 'Escape' is the title of all
the unfinished stories Mr. Biswas writes. One suspects that the
world of A House for Mr. Biswas is one modelled upon a society from
which the author has himself wished to escape, and that this attitude
is the source of some of the over-emphasis in the fictional construct.
But if Mr. Biswas finds his world a deterrent to ambition, as well as
engulfing and repulsive, the faith in life with which his author endows
him, his obstinate knowledge "that below it all there was an excite-
ment which was hidden but waiting to be grasped" (p. 341) is greater
than the impulse to escape. When Mr. Biswas acquires his house he
does not so much create order as confirm its possibility. However wry
the accompanying gestures, this is Naipaul's precarious achievement
E. R. Bralhwaite 'Roots' Bim, July-December, 1963.
2. A simplified account of the labour situation in the islands after Emancipation is to be
found in F. R. Augier and Others The Making of the West Indies (1960) pp. 187-210.
Indian immigration figures are taken from this text-book.
3. Raymord T. Smith British Guiana (1963) pp. 109-110.
4. V. S. Naipaul An Area of Darkness (1964) pp. 37-38.
5. E. R. Brathwaite 'Roots', cited above.
6. C. L. R. Jcmes Party Politics in the West Indies (Vedic Enlerprises Ltd., San Juan, Trinidad:
1962) p. 150.
7 My italics. II is interesting to rootice that Mr. Biswas is making
wife here-the cnly love scene in Naipaul's fiction.
8. It is in keeping with what ore might call the one-sided compassion of the novel that
the struggles of Mr. Biswas and his brood should be presented as different in quality
from those of their neighbours. It is interesting to notice that in this section of tie novel
the point cf view alternates between that of Mr. Biswas, end his son, Anand.