Vol. 11 (2004)

Breaking the Silence: Using Journals to Stimulate Self-Evaluation Toward Change in the Trinidad Primary School System

Cynthia James
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus


  • School Of Education,
  • UWI,
  • St. Augustine,
  • Journals,
  • Primary School Teachers,
  • Teacher Participation,
  • Educational Reform,
  • Student Teachers,
  • Self Evaluation,
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • ...More


Attempts at Caribbean education reform have traditionally suffered from lack of implementation and resistance to change. This paper argues that in Trinidad and Tobago, the slow march of education reform is compounded by the culture of silence that is institutionalized in the teaching profession. It posits that unless teachers become articulate about themselves, their students, and their practice in the classroom, recurrent top-down reforms are destined to fail. Against the background of a discussion of the cultural contexts of education in Trinidad and Tobago, and the fact that primary school teachers are subjecting themselves to repeated training with little apparent effect on the system, the paper evaluates the journals and the responses to journaling of 14 teachers enrolled in a Language Arts teacher education programme. The paper suggests that breaking the code of teacher silence could stimulate empowerment from within. With support, this empowerment could propel a tradition of documented Caribbean best practice toward building a base of regional educational research generated by insights from the people in the trenches.