Education issues laid bare

Hubris: a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence.

Wonder what percentage of the kids at Clifton Hunter know the definition of the word hubris or the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Better yet, how many of our political leaders know the definition or the story?

In “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christen Andersen, a couple of swindlers pretending to be weavers make a special suit for an emperor. They tell the emperor and his followers that the clothes are invisible to people who are too stupid for their jobs. No one can see the clothing, but no one wants to admit this fact because they do not want to be identified as foolish.

At the end of the story, a child is the one to point out the truth. Slowly, all of the people in the kingdom admit that they cannot see the clothing, and the truth about the weavers is revealed.

In English, “the emperor has no clothes,” in Caymanian- “he nekked!”

The moral of the story is that people should be willing to speak up if they know the truth, even if it is not politically correct.

The efforts of Savannah Primary PTA and the Compass to raise awareness are to be applauded.

The truth in this matter is that it should not cost $110 million to build a school and someone should be held accountable (fired) for the waste of public funds.

Some of those funds would have been better spent on teachers since there is compelling evidence that (1) students in smaller classes score higher on standardized tests than those in larger classes, (2) smaller classes have fewer behavioral problems, and (3) teachers of smaller classes report themselves as more productive and efficient than they were when they taught larger classes.

It is not the physical building that makes for a good school but the culture and especially the expectations placed on the teachers and students. (

During 1964-1965, Harvard’s Robert Rosenthal conducted an experiment in an elementary school to see whether teacher expectations influenced their students’ performances. Teachers were told the names of children in their classes who were “late bloomers,” about to dramatically spurt in their academic learning.

In fact, these “special” children were randomly selected and no smarter than their classmates. At the end of the term, all the students were tested, and the results made an important point. The “special” children not only performed better in the eyes of their teachers (an expected outcome, the so-called “halo effect”), but they also scored significantly higher on standardized IQ tests.

In other words, teachers’ expectations had improved the academic performance of their students. Where they expected success, they found it.

Rosenthal insists that the “Pygmalion effect” also applies to higher education:

Advice to teachers … never judge a book by its cover and be an encourager.

Never forecast failure in the classroom. If you know a test is particularly difficult, tell your students that the test is difficult but that you are sure that they will do well if they work hard to prepare.

Do not participate in gripe sessions about students. Teachers who gripe about students are establishing a culture of failure for their students, their classes and their own teaching.

Establish high expectations. Students achieve more when teachers have higher expectations.

Accountability: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions.

PS: How much will it cost to complete the sister school? $54 million already spent, $8 million planned for a new gymnasium and still haven’t heard what the final projected cost will be.

Do we dare broach the topic of “apartheid” in the educational system?

Darley Solomon, M.D.

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