By Vishani Ragobeer
The largest batch of trained teachers – some 843 individuals – graduated from the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) only a few days ago. And among the graduates are three young men – James Osborne, Glenroy Duncan and Rovindra Singh – who are eager to get into classrooms not only to teach but also to be positive role models for Guyanese youth.
Osborne, a trained primary school teacher, told the News Room that he had spent years engaging youth in various spheres, including at his church. That meant he was acutely aware of how impressionable young minds can be.
“There’s a saying when we grow up that you can’t bend a tree when it’s old, you (have to) start when it’s young,” he explained during a recent interview with the News Room.
As such, when the suggestion was made that he should become a teacher, he did not need much convincing.
But Osborne’s passion for the teaching profession was also fuelled by his own experiences with his teachers while growing up. Importantly, he shared that some of the teachers who had the biggest impact on his life were those who taught him at the primary level.
“I believe they started the foundation of a building that as I progressed up in my academic years, the foundation was so strong that I wasn’t shifted by a lot of different things- peer pressure or those things,” Osborne highlighted.
At the CPCE, when he was asked to write his personal philosophy that was expected to guide the type of teacher he wanted to be, he already knew that his goal was to be more than just someone teaching Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English.
His goal is to be a friend and a confidant for youth. Because, as he knows all too well, children growing up need to be nurtured and cared for- not just taught a school’s curriculum.
Then there’s Glenroy Duncan. Unlike Osborne, he did not have his mind set on teaching. In fact, he never really saw teaching as a sought-after profession for men but he decided to qualify himself nevertheless.
“…. Where I grew up, you don’t really find youngsters graduating and moving forward and those things. They know the trend, when you are done with school, people are on the corner, chilling or liming,” Duncan explained.
With this in mind, he immersed himself in teachers’ training and realised that teaching would offer him the opportunity to positively influence the younger folks around him.
His goals, he told the News Room, are to “lead from the front” and get young people passionate about learning, educating themselves and pursuing their own dreams.
And he thinks that he can achieve these goals by being a flexible teacher in the classroom. That doesn’t mean allowing children to do as they please but rather adapting his teaching so that he can connect with each child in the classroom.
Generally, about 12 to 18 per cent of the teachers who graduate from the CPCE are male teachers. The rest are women and it comes as no surprise that teaching is characterised as a female-dominated profession.
It is likely that there are several reasons for the larger number of female teachers and one of those reasons, Rovindra Singh explained, could be that the job is simply viewed as “stressful”.
After completing his secondary education, however, he managed to get a job teaching at the Cotton Field Secondary school in Region Two (Pomeroon- Supenaam). And that’s where he realised that teaching was more than educating students in a particular subject area.
“I would have been knowledgeable about what was going on in different homes, different communities,” Singh explained.
Because of this, he realised that he had a responsibility to help students navigate whatever personal challenges they might have been facing because that will ultimately help students learn easier.
Solidified in his intention to become a good teacher to all of those students, he opted to leave his job at the secondary school and become qualified at the CPCE. And at the college, he realised that there were efforts made to help teachers understand their greater responsibility.
That includes helping children to think more critically and becoming more disciplined, Singh explained.
And like his colleagues Osborne and Duncan, he is committed to being a positive role model for his students once he gets back into the classroom.