Education, Innovation & Enterprise: Lessons from Jamaica
Kadia Hylton-Fraser (St. Jago High School, St. Catherine, Jamaica)
Carmel Roofe (University of Technology, Jamaica)
Paul Miller (Brunel University)
Being able to share knowledge and professional experiences between peoples, cultures, and countries is worth celebrating. Our knowledge and our professional experiences, important and powerful as they are, are worth much more when shared with others, especially others who are located elsewhere. This Special Issue of The Bridge: Journal of Educational Research-Informed Practice does exactly that. That is, it shares the knowledge and professional experiences of Jamaican public educators with multiple audiences outside Jamaica. This underlines an important philosophy for The Bridge. That is, it is opened to the world, and in being opened to the world, part of its role is to bring people together through sharing and promoting knowledge that spans borders and national milieus.
The idea for this Special Issue arose following an approach by the Institute for Educational Administration & Leadership – Jamaica (IEAL-J) to have two individual articles carried in an earlier edition. Being more lengthy than the “average” papers, the editors agreed to a Special Issue, dedicated to the work of scholars and emerging scholars in the IEAL-J. The result is this Special Issue on “Education, Innovation & Enterprise: Lessons from Jamaica” [to the world].
The IEAL-J was founded in October 2012 with two broad aims: leading innovation and
research and capacity building in Jamaica. Since our founding, we have been involved in
several national and international activities aimed at raising the bar of educational leadership and management in Jamaica. Through our broad-based and inclusive approach to capacity building, we have moved from “community local” to “national local” and beyond national borders in delivering bespoke activities to assist the continuing professional development of teachers and principals. It is perhaps easy to make the connection then – and with the publication of the Special Issue, once more – that we are also taking our research beyond national borders. Not only does this underpin Miller’s (2012) notion of a ‘shifting borderland narrative’ (p. 5), it also confirms that both The Bridge and the IEAL-J, two relatively young entities, through this partnership, are moving beyond “the local” to the international in terms of their audience and [research] impact. This is truly exciting.
The papers that make up this Special Issue have been carefully chosen to reflect the diversity of research taking place among IEAL-J Members, but also to reflect one of our key values:“Innovation”. We use “innovation” to mean “different” and “authentic” rather than “revolutionary”. Consequently, the papers reflect a range of topics, methodologies,educational phases, educational experiences of contributors and theoretical foci. We have divided the papers into two broad areas, reflecting common themes: leadership, education & society and STEM education.
The first set of papers address issues in leadership, education & society.
In her paper “Infusing Distributed Leadership for Capacity Building and Organizational Effectiveness: Is this the Journey for a Select Jamaican College?” Hill-Berry presents a small-scale quantitative case study of a college within a large university. Situating her paper in the area of distributed leadership, she addresses two important questions, “How do staff members perceive the current leadership practice of managers in the selected college?” “How could the selected college infuse distributed leadership into its management approach to its advantage?” These are not easy questions to answer, but as Hill-Berry argues, “there is a need to incorporate distributed leadership into the college’s processes to build leadership competencies, advance personal and professional development, and enhance organisational effectiveness”.
Shifting the narrative from higher education to primary education, Level’s paper
“Enhancing self-esteem and building self-awareness of a selected group of grade five
students in an inner-city primary school in Jamaica” spotlights a most important issue
for school leaders and for society at large. There are two particularly appealing issues with this paper – first, its coverage group: primary school students; second, the physical location of the school and pupils. Teaching and learning in inner-city schools in Jamaica requires commitment on the part of all concerned. But as Level shows, through her action-research study, the use of psycho-educational drama and the use of cooperative learning strategies allowed students to gain better understandings of their own emotions, how these affect others, and how these can be managed.
In her paper, “The Administration of the PATH Programme in two High Schools in
Jamaica and its effect on the student beneficiaries: A Case Study”, Castle takes us to a secondary high school where she examines the delivery of a nationally run but school
administered scheme for students whose parents are on low or no income. Using evidence
from a qualitative case study, she contends that although school leaders act in line with the official guidelines some students did feel a sense of “unease” at being publicly identified at school as being in receipt of “benefits”. Castle thus challenges school leaders to more carefully consider the emotional wellbeing of students and to show a greater degree of emotional leadership.
The second set of papers, address issues in STEM education. In her paper, Williamson-
Teape takes us to another important issue for secondary schools globally: mathematics. In her paper, “Male Mathematics Teachers and Their Influence on the Expected
Performance of Male Students in Mathematics in Jamaica” Williamson-Teape examines whether being taught by a male teacher influenced outcomes more favourably amongst male learners. Williamson-Teape’s quantitative correlation study had two hypotheses: H1: there is no statistically significant association between the preference for
male teachers of Mathematics and the expected performance of boys in Mathematics; and
H2: there is a statistically significant association between the preference for male teachers of Mathematics and the expected performance of boys in Mathematics. Her main conclusions are that male mathematics teachers showed particular leadership qualities that made male learners want to be taught by them and that majority of students showed a preference for being taught by male teachers in Mathematics and that there was an association between preference for a particular gender of teacher and the expected performance of male students in Mathematics.
The narrative on Mathematics is sustained by Amonde & Wallder, although this is
intertwined with English, and as they take us back to a University setting. In their paper, “Prior Academic Achievements in Mathematics and English and University Academic Outcomes: A Case of Business Teacher Education Programme in Jamaica”, Amonde & Wallder argue that achievement in Mathematics and English at secondary high school can be used to predict outcomes in Business Studies at university.
Using the Logit regression technique, they contend that success in Mathematics and English in secondary high school is a strong predictor for success in Business Courses at university, especially in the first year of study.
These five papers highlight a tapestry of research being undertaken in Jamaica by IEAL-J Members at every level of the nation’s education system. Individually, they highlight issues of importance for individual researchers. Collective, they represent a body of research that highlights the fact that the IEAL-J, through its Members are telling a story about practices in Jamaica’s educational landscape. Thank you to The Bridge – for helping us along this journey!