Saturday, 26 July 2014

OPEN BOOK: Veteran educator Joy Fairclough tackles the delicate balance between teaching and learning

LIFE LESSONS: The author (inset) broaches a touchy subject with upcoming book.

The kids are not all right. That's precisely Joy Fairclough's assessment of modern-day Jamaican children and the state of their learning abilities, based on the many, many years of field work, classroom experiences and exhaustive research she's done. Deeply concerned, she knew she had to take action and was spurred to write the soon-to-be-published Music With Mathematics Principles: How to Teach, How to Learn Towards Exam Mastery (due out this summer), which contains over three decades' worth of observation and tried-and-tested techniques. The 46-year-old classroom expert-turned-author talks to TALLAWAH about the book's importance and the delicate dance between learning and teaching.

TALLAWAH: As a teacher and consultant, you've been quietly conducting research on Jamaican kids and their learning abilities for years. What have you discovered?
Joy Fairclough: I have visited a lot of schools over the years as a musician, as a teacher and taught privately for many years. And it seemed to me that the cognitive skills of the children who were coming to me we getting lower and lower; their ability to deduce, to reason, was cause for concern. And as a result I was using what I had learned in college to basically help them to improve on things like discipline and memory and various other issues, and how to reason things out for themselves.

TALLAWAH: So who exactly is Music With Mathematics Principles aimed at?
J.F.: It's aimed at the adults, the educators who need to properly teach the children, and it is also aimed at students who are old enough to understand the material. I would not expect a small child to use the book. 

TALLAWAH: I understand that your own imprint Joy Music Limited is handling the publishing.  
J.F.: The economy is bad, budget is tight, so it's being published as a limited release. The aim is to get it into the university libraries first. And e-books will then be made available.

TALLAWAH: So, in a nutshell, what aren't Jamaican parents and teachers doing when it comes to instructing children on how to become productive and well-adjusted citizens?
J.F.: I can't say in the interview what I have highlighted in the book as the missing link, but it is something that I am helping them implement in the Jamaican educational system. People need to read the book. It's what I have tested for over 30 years. Everywhere I go, both here in Jamaica and abroad, people are amazed about how well it works.

TALLAWAH: How intriguing.
J.F.: I'm telling you. Many of my past clients had tried all different kinds of private schools and different methodologies to get their children sharp and focussed, and then they come to me, and by the time they leave it's such a difference. For me, it's a case of using the tools of music and showing it's applicability to other subjects and life in general. 

To learn more about Joy Fairclough and her work, visit

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