Young must elevate minds by learning To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
November 20, 2001

It was with much sadness that I read in last Monday's Chronicle the letter by Concerned Teachers [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] about the effects of "Indiscipline in schools".

Like so many Guyanese who attended public schools during the colonial '50s and early to mid '60s, I now have reason to be very grateful to those teachers who gave so much of themselves to mould so many of us into the successes that we have become. There were very high, sometimes painful standards set and maintained in spite of general poverty and hardships. We learned to be proud of the acquisition of knowledge.

I can still remember when I was a young teacher on the Essequibo Coast during the '60s. I watched many barefooted children from poor, humble homes walking long distances to get to school. I watched their bright, eager, young faces light up when they would grasp a concept in a lesson taught to them step by step. Those were times when aspirations towards high quality in academic education did not sleep in the same bed as instant gratification or the insatiable hunger for instant financial reward.

But with the strong winds of political and economic change and the
resultant hardships came yearnings for things American. There soon came a time when certain things "from outside" came to be highly prized without question about their effects, harmful or beneficial.

Nobody in his right mind would question or quarrel with the importance or usefulness of modern technological advances in a developing country like Guyana. However, the question to be seriously considered is how often do we rouse our innate wisdom to discern between imported garbage and useful, beneficial thoughts and ideas. Should we eat the red delicious American apple while it is still covered with harmful microbe-laden dirt and poisonous pesticides or shouldn't we first wash it thoroughly under the cool flow of natural wisdom and basic common sense?

I challenge all Guyanese to restore the full flow of that common
sense-based wisdom and good order that has seen us through so many difficulties and which still sustains so many of us who live outside of Guyana. I challenge the older generation to lead exemplary lives that earn the respect of the young. I challenge the young to respect the achievements of their elders and to exercise and elevate their minds by learning for the pride and the reward that learning brings. I call upon all Guyanese to embrace and maximise the use of modern ideas to our individual and collective improvement and benefit by all means, but also to have the good sense to leave the imported detrimental habits far offshore.
Joe Fraser.