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YOU WERE not even seven years old when you first seriously doubted there was a loving, powerful God who could answer your prayers. It wasn’t that your kitten died but that, when you said, “I know she’s in Heaven,” Sister Maria Consili, your religious instruction teacher, told you, sternly, that cats had no souls and did not go to Heaven.
You knew Sister was talking horse-manure.
Because you knew that your kitten loved you more than most adult human beings, including your own parents; not that your parents didn’t love you, but your kitten let you know she loved you (an act your mother still struggles with ceaselessly today; and wins; and wins).
And, though you could not articulate the thought, you knew for sure that you were better off with no God at all than with one that spurned cats.
LAST THURSDAY, on the single morning of their 4,000-day-old lives that decided the quality of their remaining 22,000-odd days (should they live to the TT life expectancy of 70), 19,000 11-year-olds in Trinidad & Tobago sat the Secondary Entrance Assessment; and the trip to MovieTowne after the exam may well mark the high point of their education for all but the handful who will, in September, enter a “prestige school” – meaning, in Trinidad, one where the teachers care more about the children in their classrooms than the rims on their Tiidas.
In sympathy with children whose whole lives may have been thoroughly firetrucked even before their first tentative kiss, I began my own Senility Entrance Assessment last week, with the maths section from a Newsday practice test. Today, I’ll do what we used to call “English” back in the days when we used to try to educate our children, but is now called “language arts”, because we now try to make them feel better about being ignorant. I’ve edited or rewritten questions for length.
YESTERDAY, on the most devastating single morning of their 4,000-day-old lives, 18,000 children sat the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination. Christian parents might believe their children’s baptism day was the most important to the Lord in heavens but yesterday was, in fact – i.e., in reality – far more important to the Ministry of Education. Yesterday decided whether tiny tykes passed for a “prestige school” – which, in Trinidad, means one where you have a fighting chance of an education, rather than fighting every day to defend your lunch money against your little undergraduate gangsta classmates. A “prestige school” just might prevent you from ending up working for Prestige Holdings, proprietors of KFC, where your major life skill will be dropping fried chicken into a cardboard box.
In sympathy with children whose educations may have been given the kiss of death before they’ve even had their first kiss, then, I begin my own Senility Entrance Assessment exam today, doing what I can figure out of the maths section from a Newsday SEA practice test. Next Friday, I’ll try “language arts”, the modern pidgin for what used to be calledRead more