Saturday, June 7, 2014


One of my husband's favorite observations is "If you can't outsmart them, out-dumb them!"  All the world over this happens.  You think you have made your point and, in effect, outsmarted the other person.  Well, you are wrong.  They will out-dumb you every time and they manage to turn it into an art.

It goes from subtle things like getting your assignment across, setting a deadline they agree to and then it is not done.  Of course there are a million excuses for the lack of activity but, in fact, they have out dumbed you.  They have lead you to believe they understand your instructions, agree with them and will accomplish the outcome in a timely manner.  Not!

But there are other ways of out dumbing people.  Take the government of Honduras.  I have often said that the only way this country will pull itself up, make the lives of their people more productive and their country as well is to educate the people.  But the government knows that educated people are just that!  They are aware of what they deserve, what should be available to them, what improvements or changes should and can be made and they want more equality.

Out-dumb steps in.  The government here offers education.  Catchall: you must pay for all the books (of which there are few), you must buy ALL materials for the classroom, you must pay a fee at the beginning of the year (and I have no idea what this is for) and your children are required to learn whatever is taught them.  Teachers are not paid on time and have low salaries.  They sometimes go months without being paid  Anyone can teach.  If you have the equivalent of a High School Diploma (in spite of what your grades were), you can teach.  There are no instructions given as to how to set up study plans, how to present the material, in fact how to actually teach effectively. No supplies are given, even minimal, to encourage the students to enjoy school and want to study as the teachers haven't a clue as to how to go about this.

The ultimate out-dumbing is occurring right now on the island.  Evidently no one in the Department of Education is overseeing the distribution of lesson plans or materials to the schools, they simply send material on without review and tell the teacher you must teach this.  The 6 year olds attending the public school presently on Bonacca are victims of this out-dumbing.  Tegus has supplied material and a curriculum to teach to the 6-year old children, however, no one evidently bothered checked to see if this material was at their level.  The material currently being taught to the 6-year olds is material that the 14 year old students might have.  These children are told to go home and write a paragraph or two on the rights of women in Honduras.  Remember, these children don't even know how to write, much less spell and cannot print their alphabet yet.  They are told to write a paper on the top 3 tourist attraction areas in Honduras.  These for children too poor to travel and never having seen a book about tourism in Honduras.  Without the aid of a book, they are told to go home and draw a skeleton of the human bodies and point out the various parts and without any previous teaching!  They are telling children on an island with, basically, one season all year round, to draw pictures depicting the seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  This to a group of children who never leave the island nor see a change in season and have not, so far, had access to any books depicting these.  It gets much worse then this but I cannot recall all the over-the-head assignments given to the children.

This action is forcing Mothers to go to the Internet cafe to do research for their children in order to complete the daily assignments.  They are printing out volumes of material to meet these needs and at a cost that they cannot afford.  These are people who have little money to spare.  The children are depressed and crying; they don't want to go to school because they cannot understand what is being taught.  If you want your children to learn the alphabet in order to read, mothers must teach them at home.  The younger children go to school from Noon to 6:30 p.m. at night and now 6 days a week; 4 hours on Saturday.  So, spare time is in the late evening when they should be eating supper and going to bed, or receive help in the early hours of the morning when the mother must be getting everyone ready for the day and the older children off for the morning session of school.

Parents have complained to the teachers to no avail.  The teacher simply brushes it off with "this is what they must learn."  Evidently the teacher has no idea how to teach, what to teach and refuses to try and present material to the children at their level.  So, what is happening?  Due to the negligence and uncaring attitude in the school system, these children are being taught to hate learning while causing great financial problems to the parents plus forcing the children to produce assignments of which they have no comprehension.  One way to "un-educate" the masses for sure.  Out dumbed again.

Now, another example of out-dumbing.  There is a law on the books of this country that NO plastic items (bags or soft drink bottles, etc.) can be shipped to the islands.  In the past this was no problem as islanders went to the store with bags to carry their groceries in and bought some food items in glass containers.  Well, with the introduction of those polluting plastic bags and fresco bottles, plastic hit the island in mass.  Several years went by before the government passed the law and by then everyone was accustomed to using plastic.  Attempts were made a few years back, but not very strenuously, by the Municipal to tax plastic bottles to pay for their ultimate collection, compaction and return to the coast.  Plastic bags were banned but not very enthusiastically.  People were use to them and would not do without them so the government turned a blind eye to the matter.  The folks on the mainland passed a law but laid out no guidelines as how to enforce it!  They left that up to the people knowing full well that people would not concern themselves with this issue when just feeding and clothing your family was first and foremost.  The ordinary citizen had no way of "making" the government officials enforce their law and if the government was not worried, why should they?

Just yesterday this picture appeared on FaceBook:

Evidently the Municipal of Roatan is making a concerted effort to clean up their island knowing full well that getting rid of the garbage is of grave concern.  Mountains and mountains daily of trash build up and soon there will be more trash than space to put it!  So, their effort should be watched with great interest by those on Guanaja and Utila, even on the Mainland.  I would hope that the citizens would keep close tabs on the progress and whether the new "law" is working.  IF it does, and that is a big IF, then the same thing should happen on Guanaja.  However, this needs to be expand to plastic bottles as well.  You can go nowhere in the surrounding waters of the islands without seeing plastic soft drink bottles floating on the sea!  Let's all hope that this succeeds and that the other islands take up the banner!  

Maybe, just maybe we can outsmart them!


  1. This reminded me of my first trip to Nicaragua in the late 80's. No one spoke English in the tiny town I was visiting, but one day I was out walking and was introduced to the English teacher. I immediately switched to English and said nice to meet you. I was promptly informed that while she is the official English teacher, she doesn't actually speak English. That one had me going for quite some time.
    -thanks, Bill

  2. Hi Sharon, A thought regarding your blog and the island of Honduras and its islands cleaning up trash. My experience having been in Honduras many times has shown me that the citizens are so used to living with trash and throwing it everywhere, and considering their poor educational system, that it is at least a multi - generational if not impossible problem to solve. Living with trash and throwing it everywhere is deeply ingrained into their culture and way of life and will be difficult to change. I hope I am not being too cynical or pessimistic of this tragic situation that exists not only in Honduras but many other third world countries and will only get worse as this planet's population grows. I hope that I'm wrong. Oh well, life is still good. Enjoy it and have mucho fun!

    Love ya,
    Cuz Mike

  3. Hi Mike! Thanks for your e-mail. I agree with most of what you say about the trash but, fortunately on Guanaja, we have been educating the people on the island for about 10 years to not throw trash in the sea and have met with great success. The seas have less trash and the island towns have garbage receptacles for trash. Yes, some of the older folk still toss stuff around and we do find areas around the island where they dump stuff. But, for the most part I can say that the island is about 75% cleaner than it was 17 years ago when we came here. So, educating the children was the way to go. Anytime I see anyone tossing trash I bring it to their attention.

    Now, on the mainland I don't believe they will put as much effort into teaching the younger children about keeping their environment clean and so many children don't or are unable to attend school that reaching them with this lesson is a lost cause.

    The island is poor but we are far more conscientious about keeping it clean than when I first arrived here. A big "good job" to the citizens of Guanaja for a job well done and their continuing effort to keep this island pristine!

    Thanks for your comments!