…Working my core

…Working my Core
Well school’s out.  I live for times like these. Nope.  I’m no longer in school (well, sorta, does online study count J?) but I have 2 that still are.  When school in Jamaica is out, my normal 1 ½ hour commute becomes a 40 minute one.  Can I get an Amen? This allows me lie in bed a little later.  I normally rise at 4:30 to exercise.  This morning my alarm went off at 6:00.  I had put out my work out clothes from last night (cause you know that if I don’t do that, I have another excuse NOT to get up and work my butt) and I had already determined that I was gonna do the Pilates routine…such a great workout!  My core gets tested, my spine lengthens and I’m left feeling all supple and energised.  I really, really enjoy Pilates…once I get into it J. So anyways, the alarm went off.  I promptly turned on my lamp and reached for my kindle.  LOL!  So much for putting out the work out clothes from the night before.  I’m decisive, if nothing else.  And in a split second I deferred my work out from this morning to tomorrow morning. Not an ounce of guilt.  And I sank with pleasure back into my pillow, pulled the comforter higher (it’s deliciously chilly in my neck of the woods now) and proceeded to pick up where I had left off the night before.  I’m in the middle of “Love..From Both Sides” by Nick Spalding.  I’m starting to chuckle as I type.  Here’s one review from Amazon:
‘Absolutely hilarious. Seriously, I’d warn you not to read it in public as people will look at you strangely as you attempt to do that supressed belly laugh thing that makes you look demented. Anyone who’s ever had a cringeful date that’s ended in humiliation (that’s pretty much all of us, then!) will heart this.’ 

Listen to me…my core may not have been tested by Pilates, but five minutes in, my core was certainly contracted as I convulsed in laughter.  I struggled to maintain control in deference to my sleeping husband.  But the tears streamed, the core contracted and I had to rise quickly from the bed and head to the kitchen, where I grabbed on to the counter and had a good belly laugh!!! 
Breakfast completed, coffee had (sweetened with organic coconut sugar- delish! –that’s another blog post though) I retreated to complete my ablutions. I will spare you the gory details, but once again, my core contracted as I sat on the throne reading more of Mr. Spalding’s work, trying desperately to control my laughter since I was the only one in the house up at that hour.  It was an exercise in futility.  After a couple minutes of trying to stifle my laughter and control my core contractions, I gave up.  I put down the kindle and let it rip…the laughter that is.  I threw my head back and I roared.  I let the tears roll.  I snorted.  I screeched.  I moaned.  I roared some more.  The laughter throttled down.  I wiped my eyes and then it began all over again.  This went on for some time.  I was indeed working my core! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! 

Be warned: the book has in some “language” and “explicit scenes”.  If it were a movie, it would be rated A18

about GSAT

GSAT is an exam that all students in Grade 6 in Jamaica have to do in order to be placed in one of the hundreds of government run secondary schools on the island.  Standards of performance vary widely from secondary school to secondary school, with the better performing ones being in the minority.  There is therefore stiff competition, with literally thousands of children vying for only scores of places in these more desirable institutions.   Here’s a letter that I wrote to the editor of our leading daily, the Gleaner, that was published on Wed Feb 29.  It got Letter of the Day.

LETTER OF THE DAY – GSAT Symptom Of System

Published: Wednesday | February 29, 20128 Comments

So GSAT is to be reviewed. That is good news, though I am not sure what is going to really be achieved in the final analysis.
In my opinion, there are two issues at play here: GSAT as a tool to assess a grade six student’s knowledge and competence per his/her grade level; and GSAT as a tool to place students in a secondary-schoolsystem which appears to have different levels of success, evidenced by CSEC examination results.
I am a mother of two, and my experience with the GSAT curriculum aggravates me on two levels. First, it seems that GSAT emphasises trivia at the expense of the thorough understanding of mathematics and language arts. There really is nothing wrong with general knowledge, but when children are forced to cram information such as the second-largest lake in South America or the name of the third ship that Columbus sailed on, it leaves little time to ensure that the foundations of learning are properly crafted.
Second, with the volume of information these 11- and 12-year-olds have to memorise, little time is left to explore other areas of learning that are critical to building well-rounded, self-assured individuals. The end result is that the fun is sucked out of learning and the natural curiosities that lead to inventions, innovations and learning are snuffed out.
Thousands disadvantaged
The other issue is with GSAT as a placement mechanism. With just a few schools being deemed ‘good’ based on exam results at the secondary level, and thousands of children and their parents seeking entry to these ‘good’ schools, GSAT effectively acts as the selection tool.
Therefore, thousands of children who achieve average results (75-85 per cent) are made to feel like underperformers and placed in the ‘not-so-good’ schools.
The issue here is not that there is GSAT at all. The issue is Jamaica’s educational system, where performance at the secondary level varies significantly from school to school, the better-performing institutions being far fewer in number than the underperforming ones.
The bottom line: No matter how you tweak GSAT, until performance increases across the board in our secondary schools, you will always have to screen and select in order to place children in the few ‘good’ schools. This is our reality, and our children suffer.