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“Poets the Pulse of Society”
By Katrinah Best
BACK in 2005, Margaret Prescod-Cisse had been teaching at a secondary school, fully aware of her role to play in educating her English class pupils. What she didn’t realise was that some of her teacher colleagues were seeking some of that expertise too, especially within the poetry modules.
As it became common knowledge that Prescod-Cisse had a strong grasp of poetry, formalised ways of assisting the teachers through her tutoring was sought. Admit-tedly an avid reader and having bolstered her understanding of the English language at the Alleyne School right through to a masters degree in English education, Prescod-Cisse has tended to find herself a source of information for aspects of the English language discipline.
Rather than share her knowledge with others in a practically ad hoc fashion, Bar-badian-born Prescod-Cisse is now ensuring that others can quite literally take a page out of her book with “A Critical An-alysis of Poems for English B” launched yesterday at the Cloister bookstore, Bridgetown.
With a stated intention to have the text speak for itself rather than usher in its la-unch with too much attention to herself, Prescod-Cisse was more than happy to share her reasoning for writing the book. She explained that it had taken just three weeks to write and was ultimately targeting pupils to ensure their engagement within lessons and to help their familiarisation with the texts.
In consideration of student application to education, Prescod-Cisse was lamenting of the fact that not enough children are developing their critical thinking skills, a position she felt rested a great deal with the manner in which children are taught. Her sentiments were that teaching was relying too much on the regurgitation of information rather than allowing children to conduct their own analysis and arrive at answers which fell outside of the generic.
“We need for children to be able to think critically. We do not inspire it in our classrooms. It is easier to give a student a multiple choice question but children aren’t taught from young that there are so many possibilities to see something...I don’t like that we only have one answer,” she said.
English teacher at the Harrison College, Stephen Scott, expressed thoughts in a similar vein and was complimentary of Prescod-Cisse’s writing as it impacts a persons capacity for critical thinking seeing that it “begs the reader to think”. He noted that his students had been enthralled with the text and he, himself, saw its content as appropriate for coffee table discussions.
With the book positioned to gain prominence in the academic halls, hopes expressed by Prescod-Cisse are that teachers will be better placed with access to explanatory notes to accompany their poetry teaching. In tandem with those aims, Prescod-Cisse envisages more proactive engagement from the students. If Prescod-Cisse’s statement of poets as the “pulse of society” holds true, then this New York/Barbados resident certainly has her finger on it.