Friday, May 03, 2013

Silence and children in Fiji

from w
The speaker was rather game to criticize Fijian culture at a Fijian Teachers meeting, however he has a point. There is a perception that a child is cheeky if he or she keeps on asking questions. It is children's place to be rather quiet in the presence of adults, so in school many children do not ask questions.  We found that with grandsons when they relocated to an Australian city and high school.  They were always lauded as very polite by the teachers - perhaps because they were not as talkative as the Australian students.

from Fiji Times today:

Inquisitive mind and spirit

Demayble Pasoni
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Culture can contribute to the problems of Fijian or iTaukei education.
Children have an inquisitive mind or spirit and they ask questions based on their observation, the most common being, Why?
Former High Court judge Justice Filimone Jitoko, who was chief guest at the Fijian Teachers Association 79th Annual Delegates Conference, made the comment when he launched the event in Suva.
He said the Fijian or iTaukei culture stifled the enthusiasm of the child to learn, citing an example where parents or adults were overheard telling the child, "O sobo, o sa rui gone dau taro" (You ask too many questions), or "Sa rauta mada na taro" (Stop asking questions).
Such statements make children believe that asking questions are not polite and are inappropriate behaviour.
Justice Jitoko said schools and teachers must be pro-active in encouraging children to ask questions.
He cited the old Chinese proverb, "He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes — he who doesn't remains a fool forever."
He said teachers and parents needed to break down the cultural barrier and re-ignite the enthusiasm of curiosity in the minds of children because it was vital to their education and their future.
A paradigm shift in the home is necessary to recognise that a child that asks a question is not a nuisance because it shows that the child is starting a life-long adventure of learning, gaining and storing knowledge that will positively contribute to making a success of his life later.


verba volant said...

I agree with Filimone Jitoko's sentiments.

What if home schooling would be allowed in Fiji (limited to only homes with parents with University qualifications) - would that hinder or assist the culture of learning.

Or would home schooling (in the above context) upset the education system applecart?

babasiga said...

Here in Australia had to do home schooling with two teenage boys when they came over from Fiji (because of immigratino matters) and though there are two university qualified people in the household helping, it was very difficult. The boys needed the interaction of other children and when it was time to go to the High School when they got PR, it was for the best. The adults in the house have to be very motivated and the children co-operative. They get plenty of opportunity for Fijian cultural experiences because of our wide connections with the Fiji migrant community - such as a big funeral yesterday so they do learn protocol and good manners from their father and grandfather.

Kevin Murray said...

We've linked this post to the Facebook page for Vakanomodi Silence Project - It's a fascinating alternative to the perspective we've been looking at.

babasiga said...

Kevin, what an interesting facebook group on silence. I'll try and find some of my research on silence in Fiji and add to your project. I'm thinking of silence in Fijian ceremonies such as the installation of a chief in Taveuni when the communal silence was awesome.