Bishop’s College Field Trip
February 1st 1968
Teaching Conundrums at Bishop’s College.
Whilst teaching GCE ‘O’ Level Geography and some 4th year Biology I was somewhat surprised how much of the GCE syllabi were based on examples from the UK. It shouldn’t have been a surprise really since the exam board was based in England. For example, most of the map work took examples from UK Ordnance Survey maps such as the Cumbrian Lake District. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine region to study and the 1” OS map gives a tremendous amount of information but was it directly relevant to students in the Grenadines? Equally, in Biology, the main flowering plant students had to study was the Buttercup.
Now, I ask you, we were in a Tropical Paradise surrounded by the most wonderful plants and we were being asked to study the ‘English’ Buttercup. It just didn’t seem right.
I kind of felt there was a need for a bit more balance and with Mr Alleyne’s support I introduced some local examples into my teaching. My first ‘deviation’ was to
‘ take 5B into town to make a building survey in Hillsborough. We measured out the streets, width and length, made a note of every building and their primary use. We then returned to school and drew out rough maps and categorised the use of the buildings’.
It was a good introduction, I thought, to map work and mapping techniques. Imagine my surprise when, the following day Mr Alleyne came to inform me that ‘some local people had complained to him about students being allowed to roam the streets during mid-morning’.
The finished map work eventually formed one of the central exhibits in an exhibition of students’ work for the Agricultural show and Presentation Evening. I eventually felt vindicated. All credit though to Mr Alleyne who, having understood what I was trying to do, gave me his full support.
Geography Field Trip 01.02.1968
5A’s Geography Field Trip around the island was conceived in the same vein as the mapping project. I planned it as a half day trip around the island stopping at various points to study their Geographical significance. My diary entry for the day reads as follows:
‘This was a half day’s trip for 40 students around the island. I organised it, mainly for 5A but a number of students from 5B and Form 4 came as well. At Limlair we were shown prize bulls. At Mt Pleasant we studied the beach then soil erosion in Bellvue and Harvey Vale. At Dumfries we made a tour of the Lime Crushing Plant. We then stopped for a snack but Vestin and Regina had (allegedly) eaten all the sandwiches. We then looked at the Lime Plantation in L’Esterre, followed up by a visit to the new airport and finally we ended with a talk by Carlyle in the Botanical Gardens’.
Suggested Questions Given to Students
1. Limlair: Experimental Agricultural Station.
What are the aims of the station? What crops and grasses are being grown? What have been the primary results? What are the most important agricultural problems they have to deal with? How are they trying to improve agriculture in Carriacou?
2. Mt Pleasant Beach.
Note the damage done by the removal of sand for the Airport etc.
Draw sketches to show the main coastal features.
Estimate the slope of the beach and tidal range.
3. Bellvue & Harvey Vale. (Areas of Gully & Sheet erosion.)
What methods are being used to try and reclaim the land? How successful are they?
4. Dumfries Lime Plant.
Note the stages in the crushing process.
How many people work here?
Where do the limes come from? Which estates?
Where does the lime juice/oil go and what is it used for?
5. L’Esterre Lime Plantation.
How and when are the Limes planted? How and when are they cropped?
Note planting distances, soil type and growing requirements.
6. Airport. Built with a grant from the CDC (Colonial Development Corporation).
How long has it taken to build? How will it help Carriacou’s economy? Where will the air routes go? Etc.
7. Botanical Gardens (Experimental Agricultural Station growing every commercial plant found in Carriacou.)
What work is being done here? What have been the results in the re-cropping programmes and the re-nourishment of soils?
Students completed reports on the field trip but the real success of the day was the establishment of a link between BC and the Agricultural Dept. Thereafter, representitives came into college to talk about farming, soil erosion etc. Indeed, they even offered us a piece of badly eroded land so we could try to reclaim it and teach students the value of not planting crops on eroded soil. Sadly, I left before the project could reach fruition and I’m not sure if anything further was done.
Reading where we went and the things we looked at makes me realise there was a lot going on in the new young state of Carriacou. The whole island oozed a feeling of optimism and there was a determination to solve problems and work for the future. It was a wonderful place to be at a most exciting point in its history.