After some heavy consideration I’ve decided to connect my blog and The Philosopher’s Corner (my performance season). I made this choice for two major reasons, one almost purely pragmatic and the other more philosophical (I am The $2 Philosopher after all). On the pragmatic side; the cost of advertising an event in this country is prohibitive, especially for a fledgling venture such as mine. It occurred to me that having my own blog was akin to having my own copywriter, who I don’t have to pay. I figured that there is no sin in taking advantage of myself (I feel the same way about masturbation- It can’t be self-rape if I give my consent). The philosophical reason requires a somewhat more long winded explanation...
Almost three months ago I wrote a blog entry titled “Punishment Pt I: Sitting in a ZR”. I wrote the article convinced that it was the first in a series (hence the presumptuous title suffix “Pt I”). I had intended to explore the concept of punishment and what I think is the weird relationship that we (Bajans) have with it. I had intended to use the experience I’d had whilst waiting in a ZR van to explore our ideas about punishment. I wanted to show how the colonisers had, with their dubious gift to us of Christianity (with all its attendant notions of unworthiness before god) left us with an unhealthy love of punishment.
The article was a dismal failure, what many of my readers seemed to come away with was, “...yes $2, ZR men does do bare shite on the people’s roads!” Which, though true, was not the point I was trying to make.
It turns out that punishment is a highly complex and emotionally charged subject.
Having failed to clearly express my ideas on the subject, I decided, in my infinite wisdom and maturity, “Fuck it! I’m never writing about punishment again!”.
I had just about deluded myself that punishment was nothing worth writing about (too vast and too vague) when the European Union’s ambassador to Barbados’ Mr. Mikael Barfod expressed his (inevitably) paternalistic and condescending “disappointment” in Bajan’s attitudes towards corporal punishment in schools. Suddenly, as if mocking me, punishment, albeit in schools, was thrust into the national psyche.
Mr. Barfod’s statements triggered an immediate, national, almost debate (no I didn’t mean “almost national debate”). It was as if the subject of corporal punishment had been broached for the first time, despite the fact that the Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite had been talking about taking corporal punishment out of schools for quite some time before Barfod opened his mouth.
As an aside; why is that? Why is it that the issue of corporal punishment only seemed to capture the imagination after Mikael of the E. U. Spoke to it? Is it that we have become so jaded by the consistent inaction and failure of our politicians to implement programmes that nothing they say is real to us until (the rare occasion that) something actually happens? Or is it that Barfod’s statement clued us into the fact that the real impetus to end corporal punishment in schools is likely coming from the E.U. (and therefore may well come to pass)? Do I dare allow myself a moment of (uncharacteristic) optimism and believe that it is because we are raising our voices in dissent because we are tired of these former colonisers entering our spaces, with their thinly veiled notions of cultural superiority, and deigning to tell us what to do?
Certainly on of the most visible voices (lol “visible voices”) was that of former Principal Matthew Farley who admonished Barfod to keep his “nose out of Barbados’ affairs” and stopped just shy of suggesting to him that he use his “disappointment” as a suppository. Needless to say this ramped the (almost) debate up a few notches.
Maybe it is my devout cynicism, but I found the discussions surrounding corporal punishment largely dissatisfying. On the one hand there was the anti-corporal punishment school of thinkers who, clearly had no access to local research and data on the subject (I assume we have done our own research) and forced to resort to vague references citing extra-cultural studies that suggested that, “corporal punishment is bad”. On the other hand were the pro-corporal punishment people (the cuter group, by far) who remained firmly in the realm of the anecdotal and trotted out the age old cliché’ “I got licks as a child coming up... and I turned out ok!” Which in addition to being to being a non-argument is patently untrue* (look at the state Barbados is in today and tell me that “I turned out okay!” isn’t completely delusional). It seemed to me that the discussion never evolved past unsubstantiated opinions from either side.
Despite this I did learn a few things as the (almost) debate on corporal punishment unfolded; 1. there is indeed an old school, almost biblical, attitude towards corporal punishment amongst some Bajans (and it is probably this attitude that poor little Barfod mistakes for the “disappointing” attitude towards corporal punishment) 2. this attitude is not held by all Bajans because, 3. there is no, one homogenous attitude to corporal punishment in Barbados (not even amongst the people who support it) 4. often in Barbados, when it comes to serious matters anecdotalism abounds 5. self-delusion is a phenomenon as common as self 6. national discussions on issues such as this are too often superficial and short lived (note that the corporal punishment discussion is already fading into oblivion) 7. We seem not to have gotten past our tendency to jump on the developed world band wagon (they are preaching “no corporal punishment” so, so are we) 8.The discussion about corporal punishment is one of several important discussions we need to be having regarding education and the school system... the discussion is (should be) far from over. I also learned that I am neither in favour of nor opposed to corporal punishment schools. Which was surprising to me until I considered a few things: I have no idea if it is good or bad, because I don’ really know anything about it.
And now for the shameless plug.
Here’s where my season comes in: I have dedicated the first night of my season to looking at our education system because I think the issue of corporal punishment in schools (and the state of our education system in general) is well worth discussing. I think t could be useful fun to hear what the people on the ground in education feel about the situation; should we continue with corporal punishment? Should we stop it? Should we take a scientific look at the situation for ourselves and devise our own solutions?
I’ve asked a number of people (stay tuned to find out who) who work in or around our education system to come and talk to me in The Philosopher’s Corner so that maybe we can make some sense of this.
Come to the Philosopher’s Corner starting Friday March 5th in the Cove (formerly Reggae Lounge) let’s hear some comedy, play some games, have some fun and talk about the things that affect us!
Nala (The $2 Philosopher)