Good news from Guyana about taking steps to address poor CXC results in English Literature.
A mentoring system, linking inexperienced teachers of English Literature with those with years of experience, was set up on Friday last when the English Literature Teachers’ Association (ELTA) held its inaugural meeting at the St Stanislaus College.
Dr Joyce Jonas, senior Literature tutor of the University of Guyana and examiner of English Literature for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), who led the proceedings, said the ELTA was conceived as a result of a discussion she had with other CXC examiners in Trinidad and Tobago. She said they were all concerned about the poor results gained by Guyanese students in English Literature.
She stressed in her opening remarks that literature was important in children’s lives, as it enhanced their social well-being in its entirety. More here.
I don't think too many would disagree that literature is "important in children's lives," particularly literature they can personally relate to. I've no idea what Guyanese students are reading these days, but I can recall reading books by Naipaul and Lamming and feeling a strong connection to people in places I had never visited, but who seemed to be talking my language, and sharing my experiences in Guyana. As for Guyanese writers, all I can recall as required reading are a few Martin Carter poems, and at the time I felt no real connection to the poetic images in them (yes, I was a dunce bamsee).
Do you remember which Caribbean (or other) writers you read in school, and how you felt about what you read? Share.
And I need your help here. The following excerpts are the opening paragraphs of three novels by Guyanese writers, and I'd like your feedback on which one of the three I should read next. At this point, I'm withholding the books' titles and the authors' names.
"... My opinion is that perhaps the whole thing started from that first ambush which happened so long ago that we have literally cast it aside... People ambushed against their wills, collared and brought by force to this country with only memories to carry them through... a place one would not put a name to from the very beginning, and even those memories had to be concealed and pressed down on for the sake of survival, but then those same memories would one day ambush us in return, as I see it, and don't take my word as gospel, but as I see it, Kathleen Harriot imagining she was seeing cracks was in fact ambushed by memories that were thought to be dead and buried and in fact were only lying low, as they resurfaced and then things started happening... it's a matter of psychology. I lived on the same street with the Harriots. When I saw what became of her I said to myself it's all a matter of psychology... it may sound far-fetched, but what you think, Gladys, after all you were friends with Kathleen Harriot, what you think?"
Finbar and his two henchmen were waiting for me in the park. They had heard that I wanted to buy a dog for company, and they owned a suitable one -- an Alsatian crossbreed, small and intelligent. I had only just moved to this part of London with its darkly subterranean life. I wanted a pet, to remind me of the devotion of dear Florence, my wife, who had passed away five years before this warm summer day, a day so full of voices--trilling, skipping and tossing themselves about the park. I wanted something to love and indulge.
Shaz knew more about sex than any of us boys and it was his erudition which drew me to him. At an early age he was versed in mysterious acronyms and abbreviations like CP, DOM, SUB, 'O' and 'A' levels, DIY, AC/DC, etc. Compared to Nasim, Shaz was positively brilliant. It was Nasim who startled me one day as we were waiting for a No. 88 bus at Tooting Bec Station by declaring that babies were born through the anus. He was adamant on the point and scoffed at my dissent. Even I, a complete virgin, knew that babies were born up-front, though the precise mechanism was still extremely puzzling.
Which one should I read next?