Teachers get lesson on local culture

| 07/09/2010

(CNS): Over 30 of the government’s newly recruited teachers were learning some lessons of their own last month on the Cultural Caravan, a joint effort between the Education Ministry and the Cayman Islands National Museum. According to officials the aim is to acclimatize new recruits to the local culture. As a result they were shown home baked products, how to spin gigs and blow conch shells, exposed to local art and hear some traditional story telling. The teachers also got a potted political history of Cayman at Pedro St. James. Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette, who conceptualised Cultural Caravan said it design to ensure overseas teachers get to know the local people.

 “As I taught, I noticed that many new teachers didn’t really get to know who we are as a people, but I believe that familiarity with our culture and history will always help them relate more effectively with our kids,” said Suckoo-Chollette who is now the museum’s education coordinator. “This experience gives them a starting point. It’s like licensing them to go out into the community afterwards to get to know our people instead of just doing things with friends from their own countries.” 
Enjoying its second year as part of the teacher’s induction Education Minister, Rolston Anglin said it was a meaningful introduction to local our culture and feedback had been extremely positive. “Ensuring teachers new to our system get a real understanding of our people, our country and our way of life is a critical part of preparing them for success in our education system,” he added.
The caravan consisted of a guided museum tour preceded the caravan’s many stops, then Pedro St. James for the lesson on Cayman’s political history. The teachers also stopped off at local artist Al Ebanks’ studio to view the Native Sons exhibit. The agenda also included a visit to the Josie Solomon Senior Centre in Bodden Town, where custard-topped cornbread and heavy cake awaited and where eleven-year-old Jevaughnie Ebanks delighted the guests with some storytelling. 
The caravan ended with a Looky Ya at Night, back at the National Museum. There they learned how to spin gigs and blow conch shells, viewed traditional craft displays and saw a modern metal caboose in use. Tasty fritters fried in coconut oil and served with mango jelly and tamarind juice completed their activity-packed day.
Media studies teacher Vicky Rae, who moved here from the UK thought the day’s activities would help her better-understand her students.  “If I came in cold I wouldn’t have a clue,” she said. “But I’ve learned that relationships are very, very important here and that people are incredibly friendly. This will help guide my approach to, and communication with, my students in the classroom.” 
Patrick Jackson, who teaches design and technology, said he had no prior knowledge of the Cayman Islands before the ad for teachers caught his eye. “Grand Cayman is a new experience for me, and this outing definitely brings the culture to us. Already I can appreciate the challenges that exist in this small but diverse community,” he said. “It will be a lot different from my experiences in Jamaica and the UK, but I’m looking forward to learning more about the culture and to enjoying all that Cayman has to offer – particularly the beaches.”
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