Amazing success! Finally had a ride on a Jamaican bus today! Well, actually, not a bus, but the next best thing. This perhaps needs a little explaining.
As far as I can make out, there are two categories of taxi. There's the kind that we have in the UK, although the distinction between 'ply for hire' and prebooked is not made that I can see. This is called a charter taxi. Then there are taxis which effectively operate like buses, going along pre-determined routes, honking the horn if space is available and there are people who look as if they might want a ride. The driver uses a series of hand gestures, which are extremely terribly simple to interpret once they've been explained, in my case by a very nice lady also at the bus stop. Pointing left means that the taxi is about to turn left to go to downtown Kingston, pointing straight ahead means that the taxi is going straight ahead towards Half Way Tree which is indeed where I was going. Although, as I discovered yesterday on the way back from Holy Childhood, the bus-type taxi is quite happy to become a charter taxi should the opportunity arise, even if it means turfing other people out (much to my embarrassment).
Anyway, the reason for making the journey was to join a group of principals for lunch. The group of science and mathematics teachers who came to a course we ran in summer 2011 were joined by a group of principals led by Dr Renee Rattray, working on a project funded by the Jamaican Municipal Building Society looking to support high schools in rural areas deemed to be both low- and under-achieving. Renee invited me, and it was great to meet back up with Theo, Michael and Cynthia, and to meet a number of new colleagues. Most enjoyable lunch, both in terms of the food - wonderful fish dish cooked in coconut - and the conversation, with the principals keen to discuss, from a non-specialist perspective, how mathematics learning can be consolidated and developed in their schools. Aware that I've yet to see the inside of a Jamaican school outside of Kingston, but watch this space for Thursday's entry, and keen to distribute cards with a view to getting out to the country before I leave.
Quick turn around before another meeting, this time at the American International School Kingston (AISK) at the invitation of Scott Genzer (see entry for 24/2/12). Slight irritation is that, as the crow flies, AISK is extremely close to where I'm staying, but no short cut by foot, having to go round a lengthy block to get there. The meeting was to discuss how AISK can work with St George's Catholic Boys' School, and Scott was kind enough to introduce me as somebody they might like to work with while they're here. They asked a series of questions about education in the UK, answering of which meant explaining that public schools in England are not actually public (ie. state funded schools).... Is the language purposely chosen to confuse the rest of the world?