THE San Fernando Song which was written by Roman Catholic priest Fr Garfield Rochard has been used by the Ministry of Education as the stimulus to produce artwork for a book and a CD aimed at fostering national pride and patriotism among primary school students.
It is part of a thematic and integrated arts teaching approach to incorporate and effectively use dance, drama and visual arts as part of the classroom experience.
The initiative has resulted in the publication of an Illustrated Children’s Songbook featuring the drawings, paintings, collages and three-dimensional models done by pupils of Grant Memorial Presbyterian, Ste Madeleine Government, Cocoyea Government and Pleasantville Government Primary schools. A CD bearing the San Fernando Song and other national songs was also done.
Some of the songs including the San Fernando Song, God Bless Our Nation and Portrait of Trinidad were performed by students from participating schools at the Patriotism and the City of San Fernando launch on Tuesday at Naparima College.
Cheryl Ann Wilkerson, deputising for Education Minister Anthony Garcia who was absent, presented copies of the book and CDs to school principals.
Wilkerson, advisor to the minister, stressed the importance of inculcating love for country at the primary school stage which she said is the foundation on which everything else is built.
“Patriotism does not start when you are an adult or when you go to represent your country in sports, academics or whatever field.”
She said loyalty and faithfulness, which lead to that feeling of patriotism, begin in the home and transcend at every level. She encouraged pupils to do their chores joyfully and to wear their uniforms with pride as that also constitute patriotism.
Rita Antoine, curriculum office VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) at the MOE Curriculum Planning and Development division, explained, “Patriotism is a values-building skill, a thinking skill where students' behaviour could be driven by understanding what patriotism means.
“Very often teachers would have problems delivering content to develop those critical thinking skills concepts so we use VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts), sound, stimuli that are meaningful, where the children would have fun and at the same time vicariously learn about showing respect for their country, allegiance to their flag and things like that especially from the social studies lesson.”
She felt the song, written by Rochard when he was doing humanitarian work in San Fernando, was most appropriate to use as a stimulus to build positive values in the children.
“We thought it was very fitting to institutionalise songs like these in the schools, that in the classrooms it would be productive, meaningful, help curb indiscipline if children learn, grow with patriotic values from small and carry these values with them as they go into secondary schools. Patriotism is important with regards to indiscipline in schools, with regards to crime in our society where we will have our national watchwords – discipline, tolerance, production – reinforced.”
The song was used as an inspiration to produce artwork based on the city of San Fernando. On display at the launch were some of the images created by the students of the last train to San Fernando, the San Fernando Hill and other historical sites. The history of the pieces and geography of the city were also incorporated
“This project had to do with literacy-building skills, numeracy, health family life education (HFLE), geography and history, so it is holistic. This is how we implement our primary school curricula, by using a thematic approach," Antoine said.