Growing up Jamaican, there are a number of things that were mandatory to know. You had to be able to recite them from memory or as in Jamaican sense “know them by heart”! A lot of these things were taught in the earlier years of a child’s life specifically the primary school years when they were able to learn and absorb quickly.
So here goes! I am going to list a few things that Jamaican school children had to “know by heart”!
1. Psalms 100 and Psalm 23 –
Psalm 100 is a prayer of thanksgiving that was also made into a song while Psalm 23, more popularly known as the 23rd Psalm or the Psalm of David.
2. The National Anthem –
The National Anthem is popularly song at important national events, at sports/champs day, movie theatres (played before the movie begins) or at regular school devotion and so students were taught the anthem from primary school.
3.The National School Song –
“I pledge my heart forever to serve with humble pride, this shining homeland ever, so long as earth abide.” would have been uttered from the lips of students from primary school and especially at national school functions.
4. Poems –
Whether by Claude Mckay or Louise “Ms. Lou” Bennett Jamaican school children were expected to be able to quote at least one stanza from a poem. Here is a popular Ms. Lou excerpt:
“Mout a massy Liza, You nuh hear you mumma deh call you.
You mout a fly, you muss tell lie, Memba seh mi deh warn you
Lizaaaaa! Kibba you Mout!”
5. School song, pledge/motto –
Each school had their own school song and motto that were often sung and recited at important school functions and also in general assembly when the whole school would meet in the auditorium. Every child was expected to know the words.
6. The Number of Days in a Month
30 days hath September – a traditional mnemonic that students were taught to help them remember the number of days in each month.
7. Timetable / Multiplication Tables –
The timetable was another must know and this would have started from around third grade. As you go higher in grades, you are expected to know more of your timetable. In some instances, students repeat in groups or the teacher might opt to do it individually.
8. John 3:16 –
This was another devotional must know! Every child growing up Jamaican should be able to say “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
9. A motivational quote
Each Jamaican student would have known at least one motivational quote. A very popular one is – “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.
If you were Jamaican raised, what are some of the things you remember having to “know by heart”?
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