Archive for January, 2008

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Vulnerable Tourism

January 25, 2008

Mr. Richards suggested that islanders closely watch the turmoil in the US today as it could greatly effect our tourism industry.   Bermuda need not worry since we opened a brand new tourism office in Beijing and China’s markets are supporting global growth! So the current state of the US markets shouldn’t be an excuse when the next set of inaccurate visitor numbers are published. 

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Entitlement and Blame

January 24, 2008

Mr. Barnett, president of the Chamber of Commerce, gave an interesting speech this week at the Hamilton Rotary club.  He spoke of a growing the trend of a ‘sense of entitlement’  Bermudians.  He pointed to “dumbing down” education and a lack of family cohesion and parental responsibilities as the reasons behind Bermuda’s social ills. 

I’ve also noticed a growing culture of blame on the island.  New Onion also mentioned this in a previous post.  Unfortunately, the growing Bermudian mentality seems to be that if one doesn’t achieve what they feel they are entitled to they blame someone else for their lack of achievement instead of looking at what they could have done better or improve on. 

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Talent vs. Race

January 20, 2008

There has been a flurry of activity both in the papers and on various blogs as to the future of the UBP and its leadership.  I am have recently returned to the island after almost 8 years of schooling away and am disheartened that the major theme running throughout all of these articles is race.  It is unfortunate that the majority of Bermudians today seem to be solely focused on the colour of one’s skin and not their talents and ideas.  I shadow Mrs. Gordon-Pamplin sentiments that:

People should be pushed to the fore on the strength of their talents and their talents alone.  Have we really reached a stage in this country where the only consideration is the colour of someone’s skin?

She was responding to Mr. Crockwell’s comments (more on UBP future later). With CURE legislation, pre-election digs and commentary from our Premier during the election this unfortunately seems to be the case.  I don’t recall Bermuda being like this before I left, but maybe I was too young or naive to notice it then. 

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Incentive-Based Scholarship Program

January 16, 2008

Related to my previous post on education, Kevin Comeau describes his incentive-based scholarship program as follows:

Under the scholarship program, every child who successfully completes their homework more than 90 percent of the time over the course of the full school year would receive $500, and would receive an additional $250 if he or she attained an overall B average or an additional $500 if he or she attained an overall A average. 

There are a few things with this approach that concern me:

– Lack of child’s effort assessment
– Parental pressure to perform
– Homework completion

The program rewards a child’s grades however it neglects to reward the child’s effort in obtaining that grade.  For instance, a child may work and try as hard as they can and obtain a B average.  Another child with natural talent may not make nearly as large an effort as the B average child yet obtains an A average.  In this case, the program does not properly reward the B average child’s effort.  This can lead to a disinterest in school and learning since the child is not rewarded for their effort. 

Mr. Cowen argues that having an scholarship incentive-based program will motivate parents to become more involved in their child’s education.  He states that:

… parents … know the value of money; they know that $1,000 every year invested and compounded over twelve years can amount to a very large sum, every dollar of which reduces the amount of money the parent will have to pay for the child’s post-secondary education.

Exactly, parents know the value of money.  This form of motivation can go two ways: 

  1. Parents become more involved in their child’s education: making sure homework is done, concepts are understood etc. (the desired outcome)
  2. Parents remain disinterested in their child’s education, but now pressure the child to obtain an A average. 

I think there needs to be some component in this where the child only receives the money if a parent shows interest in their child’s education – this could be volunteering in the PTA, attending parent-teacher conferences etc. 

Finally, there is rewarding homework completion.  I think this needs to be better designed and incorporated with a child’s effort and grades.  I can see parents now doing their child’s homework just to bank an addition $500 for post-secondary education – especially if homework assignments are posted on-line. 

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New approach to Education

January 16, 2008

I was very interested to read Mr. Kevin Comeau’s new approach for Bermuda’s education system last week in the Royal Gazette. I agree with Mr. Comeau in that parents need to become more involved in their child’s education. Mr. Comeau argues that,

If the government really wants parents to become meaningfully involved in their children’s education, it should require teachers to post on the web every single day both the homework assignments and the teacher’s daily lesson plan so that parents can review with their children what they learned in school that day.

Firstly, I agree that the complete curriculum/lesson plans should be available to parents so that parents can take interest in what their children are learning.  I have navigated around the Bermuda Government’s Education website and have yet to be able to find the curriculum taught at each grade level.  (If someone does know where this is posted – it’s possible that I missed it- please point me in the direction of it).  

However, I don’t believe posting homework assignments should be a requirement placed on individual teachers every single day.  I would prefer to have teachers spending their valuable time bettering the education of the children in their class by preparing lessons, extra help, marking etc. as opposed to posting homework assignments on-line for parents.  Related to this, I am concerned that in posting homework on-line the responsibility of homework will shift from the child to the parent.  It is up to the children to take note of what their homework is, make sure they go home with what they require, and complete it otherwise suffer the consequences.
 

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Respect

January 13, 2008

Tom Vesey hit it the nail on the head in his opinion piece this weekend when he said:

People usually don’t mind disagreements with somebody who listens to your views with respect, involves other people in his decision-making and isn’t always 100 percent convinced he is right.  Such a person is far more likely to find the best solutions to a community’s problems, far more likely to satisfy more citizens in the process, and far more likely to heal divisions.

Unfortunately, we have seen many examples both pre and post election where when one does not agree with anothers viewpoint personal attacts are resorted to (as seen by this recent post on Progressive Minds.)

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Hyperlink correction

January 11, 2008

I was checking out the Bermuda Government Education website today and would recommend that someone correct the Berkeley Institue hyperlink.  It currently points to the following address:
http://berkeleyinstitute.org/ 
and should be pointing to:
http://www.berkeley.bm