Friday, 15 September 2017

Pet-Friendly Hurricane Shelters

Jamaica’s geographical location makes the island not only prone to hurricanes but also earthquakes. We must come to grips with this reality, a truth in which the State will be called upon to provide more shelters as the intensity of hurricanes increases due to global warming and climate change. Our ever expanding collection of unplanned settlements, mainly due to the inability to afford home, clearly put the citizenry at particular risks. The time has come for the society to invest in constructing shelters in each parish instead of using schools which often leaves these educational institutions in a state of despair after the evacuees leave for home. Additionally, the State also needs to ensure that some of the public shelters are pet- friendly. In many instances people are forced to leave their pets at home not knowing how long they will be holed up in a shelter or who will care for their pets during their absence.
Benefits of Having a Pet
Research indicates that there are numerous benefits of having a pet around. These include a boost in one’s mood. It only takes a few minutes with your favourite pet for you to feel calmer and less stressed. Time spent with your pet will see a lowering of cortisol, and an increase in serotonin, a good feeling chemical in your body. Having a pet also contributes to lowering of one’s blood pressure. People with pets tend to have better cholesterol levels and triglycerides than owners of pets.
Last, but not least, we need to have a mandatory evacuation policy for those individuals who live in flood prone areas as well as those who are homeless. Oftentimes, the homeless are not given any consideration during time of natural disasters, this is rather inhumane and troubling, and we need to make right this wrong.

Wayne Campbell

Sunday, 10 September 2017

World Suicide Prevention Day

“Hope is a necessity for normal life and the major weapon against the suicide impulse”- Karl A. Menninger
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 800,000 people die annually due to suicide.  The WHO reports that in 2015 suicide was the second leading cause of death among the 15-29 year old population. Unfortunately, as depression in the society increases it is very likely there will be more attempts at suicide. Research also points to an association between suicide and mental disorders. The rate of suicide is also high among vulnerable groups which experience discrimination, such as, refugees and migrants, indigenous peoples, lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and those who are incarcerated. Suicide in men has been described as a "silent epidemic", epidemic because of its high incidence and substantial contribution to men's mortality. Males are particularly at risk at taking their lives due to how they are socialized to be macho. This macho-induced model of socialization often runs counter to the perception of maleness and masculinity and prevents men from seeking the necessary help and or support in working out personal and relational issues which oftentimes are at the root of suicide. According to statistics Jamaica recorded 53 cases of suicide in 2012 and 52 cases in 2013.  Jamaica’s 2.6 suicidal rate of per 100,000 of the population is considered relatively low; however, this does not mean that we should not continue to highlight this social problem by raising awareness regarding the issue of suicide which also impacts the families of those who take their lives.  Other countries in the Western Hemisphere have varying suicidal rates; Guyana’s suicide rate for males is 46.0 and 15.5 among the female population.  Cuba’s suicidal rate is 17.0 per 100, 000 of the population for males and 4.2 for females. According to the WHO, 78% of global suicides occur in low and middle-income countries. Suicide knows no borders, educational levels, nationality and religion.  
Suicide is a complex issue and as a result suicide prevention requires not only the health sector to address this problem, but suicide prevention necessitate a collaborative approach across multiple sectors to include, education, the church, labour, agriculture and the media.  In response to the global challenge suicide poses it is important that we pause on the 15th anniversary of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday, September 10 to raise consciousness of the complexities surrounding suicide and provide support through community based actions to those who feel burnt or stressed out.

Signs of Depression
A colleague of mine who suffers from mild depression shared some thoughts with me while I did this article. He told me of some of the signs he experiences. “Not excited about things you normally love, being withdrawn, neglecting family and friends, moody, as well as cant get out of bed”. My colleague who I will call Mr. O, added, “people need to know and realize suicide is associated with mental illness but we are not mad people”. He went to say “families need to know signs of depression which can lead to suicide. They need to know how to deal with the family members and friends. They need not to ignore the signs but try to help”. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide means many people thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help.
In closing Mr. O lamented the lack of support in the society for those who suffer from depression. “Organizations that deal with mental illness need to mek more noise, we need to hear from them”.
The Way Forward
In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, the ninth suicide seminar was held at the Jamaica Conference Center on Friday, September 8. The seminar is a collaborative effort by Choose Life International, the Mental Health Department of the Ministry of Health and the Social Welfare Training Center at the University of the West Indies. The event is free to the public. Suicide is a serious public health problem and is also preventable.  It is important to note that suicide is among the proposed indicators of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. We oftentimes forget to realize that our physical health is dependent upon our mental health. The Ministry of Health should consider establishing a mental health crisis hotline to offer counselling services. The government also needs to embark on a public education campaign to underscore the importance of mental health, as well as, to inform the public of the agencies and resources available to treat mental health. As a society we need to foster a culture of collective responsibility whereby individuals feel a sense of well-being and comfort in seeking help for their mental state. We need to be more attentive to family members and friends, as well as, we need to pay more attention to our own mental health. The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is “Life is precious, celebrate life”. We all have a role to play in preventing suicide, one life lost to suicide is one too many. “When you feel like giving up, just remember the reason you held on for so long”-Unknown
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.

Friday, 8 September 2017

International Literacy Day

“Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere”-Mary Schmich
September 8th was proclaimed International Literacy Day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the 14th session of UNESCO General Conference in 1966.  The aim of such an important day is to highlight the challenges people face across the globe regarding literacy issues, as well as to bring awareness of literacy not only to individuals but to societies and communities. Alarmingly, more than 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills. The lack of literacy skills among the global population also has a sex disaggregate component since women account for two- thirds of those who are illiterate.  According to the United Nations the global youth literacy number stands at 103 million, with more than 60 per cent of that figure being women.  
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 addresses the issue of inclusive and quality education for all the promotion of lifelong learning. However, in spite of this fact many societies are struggling to eradicate illiteracy. Literacy is the ability to use printed and written information to function in society. Literacy provides us with the ability to achieve our personal goals, as well as, develop our knowledge and skills set. Literacy is critical to the economic and social development of a society more so in a globalized world. The theme for International Literacy Day 2017 is “Literacy in a Digital World”.
According to Dr. Grace- Camille Munroe in a newspaper interview stated that Jamaica’s adult literacy rate is at 87 per cent. Our state agencies and indeed the education system have done tremendous work in getting us to this place; however, Jamaica still lags behind some of her Caribbean neighours, such as, Cuba and Barbados regarding 100 per cent literacy. There is obviously much more work to be done to ensure 100 per cent literacy among the adult population.
Unfortunately, many of schools, both government and private do not have a library, and those schools which are so fortunate to a library; many are without the services of a librarian due to budgetary constraints. 
Digital Literacy
The 21st leaner is a feature of the digital community and many of our students have access to smart phones, as well computer devices such as Tablets. In fact the Government of Jamaica has a Tablet in Schools (TIS) Project. The project is a partnership between the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining and the Ministry of Education.  The implementation of the project is being done by the E-Learning Jamaica Company Limited and the Universal Service Fund (USF) in which Tablets will be distributed to a number of educational intuitions to include teachers colleges. 
Barriers to Literacy
The main barrier to Jamaica achieving a 100 per cent literacy level is our inability to develop and promote a reading culture. The Jamaican society is very much an oral society which is clearly a feature of our African heritage. While we should not discount our predisposition for oral history we also need to encourage our citizenry to document and read. Additionally, there is culture which dictates to boys that reading is anti-masculine and sadly, this sub-culture, which is reinforced by popular culture, has turned off many of our boys from education in general and reading in particular.  This lack of motivation for reading must be addressed with a sense of urgency. Disturbingly, boys who display school smarts are often ridiculed as effeminate by peers and even adults in areas where academic excellence by males is typically devalued. It is almost as if manhood and masculinity have been hijacked by a thug culture far removed from education.
Promote Literacy
It seems to me that every opportunity to focus on the written word should be greatly promoted across the length and breadth of our island. The reading process begins long before the child enters the formal education system. In fact emergent literacy begins in the womb at the point of conception. I dare say that a literate society safeguards the well-being of all its citizens. It is clear that, without the ability to read, comprehend and interpret, the student of today, who will form the workforce of tomorrow, will not be able to compete for the better-paying jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The society needs to find means and ways to redouble its efforts and put in the necessary resources to ensure that no child leaves school unable to read.

In the words of President Bill Clinton “Literacy is not a luxury; it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens.”
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Male Teacher Marginalization

As we approach the start of a new academic year there are many issues which the society and indeed schools must come to terms with in order to improve students outcome, as well as to inspire confidence in the leadership of our schools. The rarely discussed issue of male teacher marginalization is very much problematic and is intricately linked to the marginalization of the black male. In fact noted Professor of Teacher Education Errol Miller in his classical work “Marginalization of the Black Male” describes Caribbean societies as having men in marginal positions in the family. Miller’s research highlights the decreasing participation and performance of males in the education system.  In defining marginal, Miller states “marginal is meant not being holders of the reins of power in society, possessing little of the wealth of the society; a sense of being inferior in social status, having a belief system which justifies domination by others”. Miller’s Theory of Place underpins his theory of Male Marginalization. Miller asserts that society is organized on the basis of the place. For Miller, “place” is the position that one gender holds in the society in relation to the other. Therefore, as men move to the periphery of the society, women move to the center or to central positions in the society. According to Miller there are five factors or dimensions responsible for this entity of the place. These are power, resources, status, beliefs and culture. Miller stated an equalitarian society can never be achieved in reality and thus relative inequality is society’s reality. Miller asserts that at any particular moment in time individuals and groups in society will be more central and others more marginal.  The tendency in education circle is one of forgetfulness surrounding the fact that a significant sub-group of the workforce in our schools continues to be marginalized. A growing number of male educators are of the view that female leadership in many of our educational institutions continue to ignore, sideline and show contempt for the concerns of male members of the academic staff.  In fact some male educators are of the opinion that many male teachers are emasculated by an education system and profession which have become feminized. It can be argued that this weakening of the male teacher is being done in a deliberate and systematic manner to wrestle power and prestige from males who historically were the power brokers in most Western societies. This male hegemony in the teaching profession can clearly trace its roots to the emancipation of slavery in 1838 when a number of teacher training colleges were established. However, by 1850 all these teacher training institutions became all male institutions. On the other hand, it can be argued that some male teachers are willing participants regarding the emasculation of their kind. Recently, a colleague referred to the issue of male teacher marginalization as “baggy power”. In defining the term “baggy power” my colleague who works at the primary level of the education system opined that there are too many females as principals and this he adds invariably will lead to conflict with male teachers. While there are some who will raise objection to the term “baggy power” the terminology “baggy power” should not be viewed as sexist or misogynistic. My colleague lamented the need for us not to be so politically correct at times, this he adds result in the message being conveyed  becoming diluted. Men and women tend to excel at different aspects of leadership. Female leaders tend to hold onto and carry grudges and are often emotional, while male leadership on the other tends to be strategic. The issue in my view is not about the number of female versus male principals; it is much deeper than numbers and is rooted in a social psychology of respect. There are basically two types of respect, respect that comes to you based on your position, fame or wealth. This type of respect is impermanent and can be lost once you lose your wealth or status. The other type of respect is derived because of one’s virtues, such as honesty, kindness, patience and commitment. Clearly, the society needs to embrace and engender a culture of gender equality in all spheres of the public and private sector; however, we cannot and should not cuddle a culture of crudeness and disrespect at the same time. I am fully aware that there are some female principals who overstep their reach and authority in an attempt to control male teachers; however, this is usually to the detriment of their institution and of their stewardship. Unfortunately, we live in a society where gender relations are not taken seriously. Sadly, this area of cultural studies is often relegated to the domain of the academic halls of universities where less than twenty percent of the Jamaican population are privileged to pass through. However, the stark reality is that in the workplace both sexes are required to work in unison to achieve the organizational goals and targets of the institution. As a result, more emphasis and training should be given to leaders at both the private and public sectors in the dynamics of gender relations and how this impacts the wider society. Disturbingly, in many instances there are female principals who speak down to male teachers as if they are addressing their children or reprimanding a student. This “boyification” attitude by some female principals is quite out of order and sends the wrong message not only to the males on staff but also to the students at the school. Students are rather perceptive and lead can lead to some form of disrespect towards male teachers based on the principal’s behaviour.  Our boys too also require positive male role models and in many instances male teachers are denied promotion for no particular reason. Too often we have heard of instances whereby male teachers are reprimanded in the public domain, ignoring protocol with the main aim clearly to embarrass the teacher. It is a weak and insecure principal who takes this approach and the time has come for this to stop. This dichotomy of power and power relations is not exclusive to the education system; however, this should be of little comfort to those male teachers who are voiceless due to fear of malice by those in leadership. The adage respect begets respect is most appropriate and should be woven in the culture of every school. Additionally, there is a deficit of trust in many schools and inevitably the school culture becomes toxic and as a result students pay a high price for the weak and vindictive leadership in so many of our schools.  The issue of marginality is not a new phenomenon.
Origin of Marginality
The concept of marginality first appeared in the field of sociology in the early 20th century and has acquired a multiplicity of meanings. According to sociologist, Janet Billson, there are various types of marginality. She identifies three types; cultural marginality, structural marginality and social marginality.  Billson posit the view that cultural marginality is determined by race, ethnicity and religion as well as other cultural indicators. On the other hand, social marginality occurs when an individual is not considered part of a positive reference group owing to factors such as age, situational constraints or occupational role. Billson adds that structural marginality results from the political, social and economic powerlessness of specific disadvantaged groups in societies.   
Male Identity Crisis
The Jamaican male for the most part sees his identity in his sexual prowess and his ability to father children. This skewed version of manhood and masculinity anchored in a state of phallocentrism and patriarchy is reinforced almost daily in the pop culture, especially dancehall music.
“I born as a bedroom bully
Bedroom bully fi di gyal pickiny
I born as a bedroom bully
Bedroom bully gal a wine up fi mi
Real top gyallis man a bedroom bully”
The above lyrics from dancehall artiste Busy Signal, clearly captures the sentiments of the construction of masculinity in the Jamaican context.  It is quite evident that the construction of Jamaican masculinity for the most part rests on the sexual objectification of women. Ironically, women are the main supporters of dancehall artistees whose music is steeped into this form of male identity and manhood. Interestingly, there are other forms of masculinities which have separated from this hegemonic form. However, males who subscribe to these marginal masculinities often run into problems and must endure the harassment in having their sexual orientation questioned. See below the lyrics of a popular dancehall song
Buddy Bruka-Aidonia
Nuh boring gyal
Boring gyal
No man nuh want no boring gyal
Cyah fu@k boring gal
You see my gyal?
She can skin out!
Gyal you ah buddy brucka.
As the debate rages regarding boys’ underachievement there are a number of schools of thought. Firstly, there are those who claim that boy’s underachievement is a direct result of the emphasis that has been placed on girls and women. These shifts of resources both material and human have contributed to a significant number of males falling through the cracks of an elist education system. The development of human resources requires a more gender-sensitive approach in order to maximize the best outcomes for both sexes. Secondly, there are those who locate the problem in relation to wider social changes and how this impacts males, particularly adolescent makes with regards to their view of masculinity and schooling. There needs to be a more concerted effort in making education more appealing to boys. Research has shown that boys learn differently from girls and are more interested in hands-on and interactive methods of instruction. Undoubtedly, male under-participation in the education system is linked to the gender socialization. Gender socialization traditionally affords more privilege to males and thus promotes male hegemony.  This gendered approach to socialization gives boys less exposure to those skills set which instill self-discipline, time management and promote an interest in academic attainment.
Towards A Gender Transformative Approach
Schools are the primary agents of socialization in many if not all societies.
It is debatable that the overreach of feminism in the education system is already having a negative impact on male students. It is not wise nor is it healthy to hide under the cloak of feminism to subdue the natural competitive tendencies of boys and turn them into “half men”. It is therefore critical to remind ourselves that outside of the need to empower our students in literacy and numeracy skills, our schools are responsible to reproduce the status quo of the society. The state of the construction of masculinity is at a crossroads, what is required is a healthy state of masculinity. It is imperative that our boys see positive role models in our male teachers in which to emulate.  Regrettably, the view regarding the construction of Jamaican and Caribbean masculinity is a negative one and by extension the society cannot afford to accommodate any further instances to add to the marginalization of male teachers within the education system. The issue of male underachievement in our educational institutions is cause for concern and must be deconstructed. There is much division among male educators and this invariably plays into the hands of female principalship aimed at the marginalization of the male educator. Additionally, our culture of homophobia and transphobia also contribute to the situation of division of male educators to work together to address concerns relating to them. As a male once you lose respect for and confidence in the leadership of your school it is clearly a sign, not necessarily from above to part ways. The way forward to create better working conditions in our schools for both sexes will require all stakeholders to voice their honest opinions at arriving at more gender neutral policies. The time has also come for male teachers to have their own association to advocate on issues which are of concern to them.  The days of “holding down” the male teacher has passed. We need to re-socialize the society, especially since the workplace is a shared space requiring of us to get along with each other, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, sex, political persuasion or social class. We must put aside our personality differences in order to adequately address the needs of our students.
In the powerful words of Hillary Clinton, let’s continue stand up for those who are vulnerable to being left out or marginalized.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#masculinity #marginalization #schooling #education #leadership #socialization #power #respect #trust #principalship #school #feminism #personality #gender

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Jamaica's Cultural and Creative Industries

Very often we tend to underestimate the impact of culture and creativity as agents of economic growth. According to the Cultural Times, the first global map of cultural and creative industry, revenues generated globally in 2013 from cultural and creative industries (CCI) totalled US$2,250 billion and employed over 29 million people. It is noteworthy that creative industries include, film and television, music, advertising, fashion, performing arts, and animation. The significance and impact of the contribution of cultural and creative industries to the Jamaican economy was highlighted and reinforced to delegates who attended the recent Jamaica 55 Diaspora 2017 Conference at the Jamaica Conference Center.  Minister in charge of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia Grange in a wide ranging speech entitled “Jamaica 55-Jamaica’s Creative Economy” used her presentation to underscore the impact of the CCI on the Jamaican economy. According to Minister Grange, creative industries contribute 5 % to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  She said the cultural and creative industries (CCI) were “untapped economic potential” and added that the CCI covers “urban and marginalized areas”. The Minister outlined plans regarding Jamaica 55 celebrations. One of the main pillars anchoring the 55th anniversary of Jamaica’s political independence is what the Minister referred to as Legacy Projects. The Jamaica 55 Secretariat has identified approximately, 22 projects under the Jamaica 55 Legacy Project. There are five core projects, Sports infrastructure, Entertainment and culture, National Monuments, Gender Infrastructure and Jamaica55 Publications. The Minister in her presentation mentioned three reasons for the legacy projects. These are; cultural retention, growth and development and transformation. In further explaining the legacy projects, the Minister’s presentation was met with a rousing applause from delegates as she sought to rationalize each. In response to Jamaica’s cultural retention, she pointed out the need to preserve the cultural and creative expression of Jamaica, secondly, it is critical to showcase the island’s rich cultural diversity and to transform Jamaica in the process.  According to Minister Grange, the Legacy Projects are slated to last between three to five years. In addition to providing employment and wealth, the Legacy Projects are intended to stimulate innovation as well as to become a pillar of Jamaica’s economic growth. The Minister added that the government will shortly create a Cultural and Creative Industry Council which will include participation from five other government ministries. In a presentation which clearly was meant to galvanize the Diaspora, Minister Grange told members of the Diaspora that the government was seeking partnership in working to accomplish the Legacy Projects. The Marcus Garvey Park and Museum in St. Ann is one such project. The redevelopment of the National Stadium which is slated to cost US$45 million is another Legacy Project. The redeveloped stadium will have a seating capacity of 45, 000. It was also announced that the government was seeking assistance in establishing a Creative Industry Satellite System to work towards capturing data and statistics on the cultural and creative industry (CCI), as a result the government has approached the government of Colombia in this regards. Minister Grange declared that the government has approach the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with regards making an inscription of Reggae. “It is important we safeguard and protect reggae music”. She added that the global value of the Creative Industries totals 7% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  
Financing of Cultural and Creative Industries
Subsequently, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in a recent policy move announced that it will be providing the initial capital for a multi-donor fund to improve the competitiveness of the cultural and creative industries sector in its borrowing member countries (BMC’s), including Jamaica. The Barbados based Caribbean Development Bank said it is making an initial contribution of US$2.6 million to the establishment of the Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) as a pilot intervention, and it will also administer the fund. According to a release from the CDB, the CIIF will support the development of the creative industries sector, and encourage innovation, job creation and improved enterprise sustainability by providing grants and technical assistance to governments, business support organisations and academia that support the creative industries sector. It will also provide funding to creative and cultural entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in CDB's BMCs.  Additionally, the CDB said the CIIF will primarily support projects identified in the priority sub-sectors: music, including production, distribution, sales and events; audio-visual, film, interactive media, animation and gaming/digital; fashion, and contemporary design; and festivals and carnivals. The fund is said to have three components focusing on: supporting the enabling environment; the development of sector data and market intelligence; and supporting MSMEs in the CIs sector to develop new products/services, implement new business models, improve employee and managerial capacity and access new markets.  This move will clearly be appreciated by those individuals who over the years have found it difficult to access funding for the cultural and creative industries and will undoubtedly spur economic growth.
In a response to a question regarding the limitation of cultural space, the culture Minister mentioned that the government was seeking to establish a State of the Art facility in Kingston to be used as a Concert Hall. Minister Grange said despite the limitations of resources, the government was looking how best to identify facilities outside Kingston to be upgraded and used such as school halls.  The minister implored artistes to ensure that they educate themselves regarding the business side of their craft and highlighted the Bob Marley Foundation as an example of how an estate can go about protecting their rights. In closing Minister Grange said that she was in favour of content quota regarding the playing of music. She gave Canada as an example of having such a policy in place in order to ensure that a percentage of local music is played. The Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference was held in Kingston, July 23-26, 2017 under the theme: Partnering for Growth.
In the powerful words of Marcus Garvey, “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. 
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Gym Etiquette

There is no pleasant way of saying this, so here goes, body odour is offensive. The gym serves a dual role and purpose. Our views and opinions are largely rooted in how we are socialized, as well as, the values and attitudes which are important in and to our families. However, on the issue of personal hygiene I do believe that there should be some basic standards, especially regarding the sharing of public space. In recent times there has been an increase focus on the health of Jamaicans. This increase spotlight is aimed at promoting a state of conscious and physical activity among the populace.  The Ministry of Health currently has a programme called “Jamaica Moves” which is geared at getting Jamaicans to lead a healthier lifestyle by encouraging them to engage in some physical activity to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCD’s), for example, diabetes and hypertension and to remain healthy. Hugh, 49, who attends the gym regularly, shares his opinion in the following way. “Because you shower every night before you go to bed”, Hugh says there is no need to shower before you go to the gym. For those who go to the gym in the evenings Hugh has a different perspective. “Evening goers I believe must be refresh with proper hygiene after work before going to the gym. He added that proper hygiene in this regard does not  necessarily mean taking a shower but could include using a deodorant or brushing one’s teeth. Another colleague Fabian shared his opinion. “Without a doubt, body odours are not always pleasant. Most gyms are inside of an enclosed space which traps the various odours. Fabian added that taking a shower encourages confidence. “When you shower it makes you know that you smell fresh, makes you feel more relax after a long and tiring workout”. It’s always good to have a perspective from both sexes. Miss Bucky answered in the affirmative to the question. “I have to, I feel nasty. Ok so I am a low key germophobe so I always shower before any physical activity including the gym. When I go there I have to see them with Lysol or some other cleaning aid to clean off the equipment you can imagine catching crabs OMG! or Hepatitis C”.  A germophobe is a person with an extreme fear of germs and an obsession with cleanliness. Clearly a germophobe would have an impulse to take a shower before going to the gym and after working out. 
Claude, age 54, is an avid gym goer voiced his opinion “Why freshen up to go get all hot and sweaty. Unless one has a high body odour then a shower would help to keep the odour down during a workout. But it also depends on how bad the odour is, so if you have a means of controlling same with a shower and medication and deodorant then by all means it’s fine to shower before gym”. Anthony, age 45, “If I am leaving work where I am in the air conditioning all day I am not going to shower before gym. However, if I am out and about and sweating and smelly, I owe it to those in the gym not to make them uncomfortable with my smell”.
Scents, Sexuality and Personal Hygiene
As humans we try our best to prevent ourselves from perspiring by using various antiperspirants and deodorants. We are socialized from early that excessive sweating is to be shun and not to be tolerated. This natural occurring human activity perspiration is often used to label individuals as being nasty and dirty. Pheromones are chemical substances that are secreted through our skin pores. Pheromones are crucial to critical development phases in our lives, from breast-feeding to mate selection. It can be argued that the scent produced by pheromones contribute to making us horny. In light of the fact that most gyms if not all are used by both males and females the gym is often a place of hooking up as well as for getting one into shape. Androstenone is a pheromone compound that is present in male and female sweat. In males, androstenone is associated with alpha-male like characteristics to be the leader. Females often see the alpha-male as dominant and sexually appealing. Androstenol is found in the sweat glands of males and has a musky smell. Many studies have concluded that women who produce higher than average amounts of female pheromones also known as Copulins have greater success with men. These women are often viewed as exciting, seductive and desirable. Interestingly, body scents can and does send sexual messages to the opposite sex. Whether or not we act on the message is another story and for another blog.  The reasons why people go to the gym are wide and varied. Maybe you are desirous of meeting someone of the opposite sex? Perhaps, going to the gym for you is mainly to build muscles, or maybe to tone your body.  Whatever your reasons are for going to the gym just be mindful that you share a public space and as such you should do your part in making the gym experience a pleasant one for others.  
Wayne Campbell
#pheromone #copulins #androstenol #hormones #sweat #physicalactivity #sexuality #gym #androstenone #hepatitisC  #germophobe #personalhygiene  #masculinity #femininity

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Scaffolding Boys' GSAT Achievement

For the first time since 2012, boys outperformed girls in the 2017 sitting of the Language Arts paper in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). According to data released by the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information, boys achieved a higher mean percentage score of 76.7% in Language Arts, compared to 68.5 % for girls. This development augurs well for boys’ education, especially since men’s educational attainments have fallen and continue to fall drastically behind women’s. Boys’ underachievement has been at the heart of many academic journals and discussion over the years. The issue is not unique to Jamaica; in fact the concern is of global significance and is rooted in both a socio-political and educational ideology. Males over the years have been underperforming at almost every level of Jamaica’s education system. There are various schools of thought which have been forwarded with regards to boys’ underachievement. There are those who argue that boys’ underachievement is a direct result of the emphasis that has been placed on girls and women. Secondly, there are those who locate the problem in relation to wider social changes and how this impacts males, particularly adolescent males with regards to their view of masculinity and schooling. Statistics from the Mona Campus, of the University of the West Indies, indicate that more than seventy per cent (70%) of all graduates are females. Data from the other degree granting institutions paint a similar picture. The discourse surrounding gender and education is often emotional resulting in a loss of focus regarding the issue at hand. Boys too have structural hurdles to overcome in the education system.  One such is the gender-based bias in the curriculum as well as the methodology being used. It is hope that the new National Standards Curriculum (NSC) will address the deficit boys’ face. According to the Minister of Education, Senator Ruel Reid, the National Standards Curriculum will improve methods of teaching, particularly for boys. The National Standards Curriculum aims at improving the general academic performance, attitude and behavior of students. The National Standard Curriculum is student centered and emphasis will be placed on project-based and problem-solving learning, with Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics (STEAM) incorporated at all levels of the education system. It is critical that we engage our males, specifically, adolescent males in trying to change the gender norms within the society, one of which is that English Language is a girl’s subject. Unfortunately, we live in a society in which boys who display school smarts are often ridiculed as effeminate by peers and even adults in areas where academic excellence by males is typically devalued. Undoubtedly, our males continue to struggle with questions surrounding their masculinity and manhood and many just give in to the popular culture of the day. The achievement of our boys at the primary level is more significant against this prevailing thug culture often far removed from education. It would be interesting to have the progress of these young men tracked over the duration of their high school years to see how well they perform at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) especially so in English Language. We need to build on the momentum gained from the boys’ GSAT achievement by fostering a movement to rescue our boys from academic slumber. The onus is on the policy makers to ensure that equality of educational opportunity for both sexes is achieved and that this is sustainable for the long term viability and development of the society.  In the words of freedom fighter and statesman Nelson Mandela, education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.