Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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Road horror accidents

April 24, 2008

I’m all for ‘generating an emotional response from the public, to “shock” the public into taking action and making the right choice with regard to their driving behaviour’ (Road Safety Council spokesman), I’m just not sure if the realistic accidents spread throughout the island are the way to go.  According to the article in today’s Royal Gazette, there were several calls to 911 reporting the fake accidents and motorists stopping to help.  I’m sure they also caused a few fender benders as drivers took their eyes off the road to gawk at the fake accidents. Case in point: today’s front page picture in Royal Gazette.

Can we find a way to make the public more aware without causing more accidents in the process?

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Bike Curfew

April 23, 2008

The Road Safety Council’s executive officer Roxanne Christopher-Petgrave spoke to the Hamilton Rotary club yesterday detailing the idea of a new ‘Graduated Licence’ training programme.  The programme includes a ban from towing for the first two years, all youth (ages 16-18 )  be off the road no later than 11pm and an extended 25-hour Project Ride course.  Several countries have graduated licence programmes – I’m most familiar with Canada’s where at 16, youth can take a written test and obtain a G1 licence.  This allows youths to drive but they cannot be under the influence of alcohol, they cannot travel on major highways and there must be a person present in the car with a full G license.  After a period time (could be 18 months can’t remember), the youth can take a driving test for their G2 license. Once obtained youths are able to drive others, they cannot be under the influence and they cannot travel on major highways.  A second driving test is taken for proficiency in highway driving (after another year period again can’t remember exactly) before the youth obtains their full G licence. When you look at Bermuda’s system (in terms of bikes) we already sort of have a graduated licence system.  Youths, at age 16, take both a written and driving test and are only allowed to obtain a licence for an axillary cycle (50cc).  The drinking age in Bermuda is 18, therefore youths should technically not be under the influence of alcohol at any time.  At 18, youths are allowed to take a driving test for a full motorcycle license and are of legal drinking age. 

I agree with increasing the Project Ride programme to a 25 hour course, but I’m not sure if restricting towing and curfews are really going to make a difference.  These recommendations involve policing which many residents, I think, would agree there has been a lack of on Bermuda’s roads. Bermuda’s roads would be safer all around with an increase in policing alone. I’m not sure if penalizing the 16-18 year-olds on the island is the answer.   

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Bigger Prison

February 22, 2008

Well Bermuda is going need much bigger prisons if Sen. Burch has his way.  Yes, let’s lock up the single mother because her son was involved in some act of violence while she was out late working several jobs to provide for her children and at home watching them.  This way her other children can follow suit of the eldest son?!  (One extreme scenario). 

IMHO, it takes a community to raise a child.  There seems to have been a shift in thinking about how children are raised from being community based to the parents sole responsibility.  I clearly remember being put in my place by family friends and teachers, not solely my parents.  Teachers seem to have been stripped of any power to discipline incidents in the classroom (I remember being appalled when I read this, although I believe the student was suspended at some point after the BUT stepped in).  I think discipline is an aspect of the education system that also needs some careful consideration when we look at revamping the education system. 

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Education time-line

February 12, 2008

Education Minister Randy Horton explained the time-line for restructuring his Ministry following the recommendations made in the Hopkins report.

June 2008 — pilot curriculum tests, with standard-setting to take place during the summer;

June 2009 — first administration of curriculum tests, with results made available to the public;

June 2010 — first determination of schools’ status and the rewards programme;

June 2011 — implementation of a “comprehensive accountability programme” with annual reporting to the public.

Judging by this time-line, we could end up failing another 3 years of young bright Bermudians before anyone is held accountable?!

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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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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