Champion Readers

August 22, 2008

This was published in the August 22, 2008 edition of the Gleaner.

Congratulations!

I echo what all the pot covers, loudspeakers, and letter writers have been shouting: congratulations to a stellar group of athletes who have brought much favour to Jamaica.

I also want to add my own suggestion to the long (and growing!) ‘to-do’ list of how we should best commemorate this historic moment.

Along with the plaques, monuments, buildings, honorary titles, parades, etc, I propose that the relevant ministries partner with private sector entities to develop a literacy campaign featuring our athletes as champion readers.

What simpler and better way to show that we are a great nation, than to demonstrate to our youth that we stand for intellectual as well as athletic excellence!

– Long Bench, longbench@gmail.com, St Ann

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6 Responses to “Champion Readers”

  1. ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID Says:

    Excellent suggestion!!

  2. duttybwoy Says:

    a great idea indeed

  3. rawpoliticsjamaicastyle Says:

    Good one, Long.

    Actually, I suggested elsewhere a version of this same idea. Invite the sponsors of the JA Olympic team to seriously invest into the development of a sports academy with a real focus on academics, as part of the education transformation programme!

    That way, they can be branded as part of the successful ’08 team and get a headstart on the competition when the athletes/ nation start reaping the rewards! The effect? You strengthen the sports programme and you brand education as ‘the sport of champions’! Of course, you start with your suggestion above.

  4. longbench Says:

    Actually, this idea is not focused on or targeted to athletes. With all the hype about “capitalizing” on the Olympics, more money and effort will be thrown behind athletics, and once again, youth will have the same choice as they did before: pick athletics or suffer. There is a serious problem of illiteracy and inability to think beyond what we have been spoonfed – even some of the emails that I get from folks testify to this. Celebrity icons, such as the athletes have become, can be a conduit for other ideas besides sports. And, its back to school time. What better time to do this.


  5. I am inclined to agree with your assessment, however, only to the extent that there is little in the way of funding that education receives currently. What I am not so sure about, though, is whether the two ideas are necessarilly disparate ones.

    Notwithstanding the value of the point you make, there is something to be said insofar as investing in an academy that uses sports and its attendant prestige following on the Olympics in Beijing to bolster the building blocks of education, more generally. If we can encourage physical activity as means of achieving health, releasing stress and getting an education, then, I do believe there is merit in that idea.

    I cannot argue, otherwise, with your claims about the dearth of capital invested in this important part of the nation’s development, however.

  6. longbench Says:

    RawPolitics – I do totally agree with your idea; that’s not what I had in mind when I wrote the post, hence my effort to make the distinction.

    I can definitely see how building an academic curriculum around sports would be an amazing approach to education; there is no discipline or area of inquiry that you can’t explore through sports. That’s similar to the magnet school idea used in the U.S.

    The idea for the sports academy that is being bandied about does not seem to resemble what you suggested, however. Its more like sports is the focus, everything else is separate and less important; the goal is competition and creating a cadre of super-athletes [to achieve total world domination or something similarly grandiose!], not a holistic education.

    I don’t think that every aspect or venture into education from now on should be reorganized around sports, however. That’s my fear in terms of how narrowly we tend to frame our debates and implement ideas.

    Sports can be one focal point, and some schools may choose to take this up; other schools should be encouraged to do the same with art, literature, science, environment, dance, etc.

    I also think principals and teachers also need to do a better job of integrating sports into the existing curriculum, not just as part of the run-up to sports day and competition, but as you noted, part of sustaining healthier and more well-rounded lifestyles.

    But all that is a long way off, and more dependent on individual entrepreneurs, rather than the govt (they’re still haggling with principals over school fees, for god’s sake!) For now, some lovely billboards, reading sessions with athletes, public service announcements, drawing and writing competitions, and localized programming around reading and sports would be a great start.


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