Monday, November 16, 2009

Blake Hannah on 'unschooling'

LA Times photo

Jamaica Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, November 16, 2009

"We are being programmed to be inferior," declares Barbara Blake Hannah. Unfortunately, the news of the day supports her. Barbara is very much the daughter of her nonconformist father, writer and publisher the late Evon Blake who famously challenged the racist status quo of the 50s by defiantly diving into the swimming pool of the exclusive Myrtle Bank Hotel on the Kingston Waterfront.

Barbara plunged into the schooling of her son Makonnen and, 23 years after his birth, has published a book about their experience, ending with one of the most impressive résumés a young person on Planet Earth could have. Her account of the care and attention given to her child is in sharp contrast to the conditions described by Betty Ann Blaine of children gone missing from their homes, many trying to escape the misery of abuse.

Blake Hannah made the home environment a place of comfort and learning. In spite of financial difficulties, she was able to provide her child with an education that saw him being invited to conduct sessions in collaboration with Harvard University and address the United Nations Economic and Social Committee.

In listening to Barbara's account of her carefully organised "alphabet wall" where her toddler learned his letters, their nature walks where he counted shells, I harked back to an important observation of Donna Duncan-Scott on Beverley Manley's radio programme: "If you want something to grow, you have to give it attention."

(click on title for full column)

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