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The Birth of LegendizeU
My mission is revolution in education.
I consider myself a Creative Facilitator.
I create space for learning to happen.
If the environment lends to learning, learning takes place, because learning is natural.
This space I call ‘LegendizeU’.
LegendizeU rests on the pillars of these 4 C’s: Curiosity, Color-In, Creativity, Consciousness.
Curiosity because the most powerful tool is to want to learn something.
Colour-In is harnessing imagination, play, passion, to fill the stern, formal, restricted spaces of black and white textbook learning and right and wrong answers.
Creativity is celebrating the vibrancy of WE people, the knowing that creativity is a Caribbean super-power.
Consciousness involves connecting the dots: making sense from the syllabus to life.
These four C’s often overlap because learning is fluid.
I come from a home where education was at the center of everything.
My mother was a teacher and she instilled in her seven children the importance of a good education. We were all expected to do well in school, go on to tertiary education and then get jobs that could sustain us.
I graduated from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine with a Second Class Honors degree in Political Science and then became a teacher.
And then began, what I consider, my real education.
My first teaching appointment took me to Moruga Composite to teach History.
I strode into Moruga ready to teach, and Moruga taught me.
I learnt that for many, education was not important, as my students who missed weeks of school to go hunting reminded me that, ‘Books doh put food on de table, Miss.’
I learnt that my idea of an ‘educated’ person needed shifting, as my Moruga students taught me about Papa Neeza and Mother Cornhusk, how to tell when it’s a good time to go fishing, what food to plant when, and how not to get lost in the forest.
And I learnt that many students were confused and disinterested and wondered where 'WE' in this story?
Teaching History was not easy at Moruga Composite, yet Moruga is one of our historically richest spaces in Trinidad.
As I struggled to teach the first topic on the syllabus - The Coming of the Europeans - because of my students' boredom and disinterest, I remembered hearing somewhere that the community of Moruga enacted every year, the arrival of
Columbus and his meeting of our Amerindians right there on the Moruga shores, in what they called Arrival Day.
So one day I ditched the books and asked my students to show me what they did on the beach on Arrival Day...and my class came alive!
When I was able to get them to see that what they did on Arrival Day was the same topic in the textbook, boredom was replaced by curiosity and curiosity birthed interest and interest opened intelligence, and all of this started with imagination and creativity - imagining the classroom as the beach and letting my students' creativity come out and play.
From the time my students saw 'WE' they opened their minds to learning.
Over the years, I started answering the question: HOW DO WE CARIBBEAN PEOPLE LEARN?
The intelligence I had seen that day in my Moruga classro0m when the beach rolled into the classroom was not something I could ignore. Most of my students were not great at writing and reading but they could tell stories and put on an impromptu play and take on the role of Columbus, Amerindian, waves, ship, anything needed, to say what they needed to say to bring the beach to the classroom.
The Caribbean has its own brand of learning, we learn through doing - through trial and error, through connecting - we dare to innovate and create, through exploring - by being ‘fas’ and passing on stories and adding our own touch to stories, and we learn through performance - seeing ourselves on stage, putting on a grand show and being at the center of what we create.
We are creative, colourful, dynamic, innovative.
I am a harsh critic of our education system.
It is a colonial system that is destroying our young minds with its elitism, its insistence on testing and rote and regurgitation as hallmarks of intelligence, and its ignoring of our varying types of intelligence and the need to connect student reality with learning.
Education is not just about passing exams, but also about doing what you do to the best of your ability. It’s about continuing to learn and to keep honing your skills, connecting to our space and connecting our space to the world.
Instead of fitting our students into the world mould, we should be impressing on our students that the Caribbean is a value to share with the world.
We are creators not merely consumers.
LegendizeU creates a space for learning, WE Caribbean way.
Sapotee Soil is the first LegendizeU tool I created.
Since then I have created other tools: the Call for Stories, my films: The Fallen People of the Black Land and Legends Revisited and the LegendizeU Project.
These LegendizeU tools remind us of the right to ask: Why? How? What if? and dare us to be Curious.
They Color-In to those stern, formal, restricted spaces of black and white textbook learning and right and wrong answers by harnessing imagination, play, passion, as the fundamental difference between natural learning and forced learning.
They call our Creativity to come out play with the recognition of Caribbean expression, enjoyment, enthusiasm, as centers of our learning.
They remember that Consciousness is the only way for Caribbean people to stay grounded while connecting in a global world.
LegendizeU answers my Moruga students' question: Where WE in de story?
With: LOOK! WE IN DE STORY!
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