Educating for the 21st Century: Notes of a Native Son

Educating for the 21st Century: Notes of a Native Son

Dtabroek News –  September 16, 2013- – In The Diaspora

By Ewart Thomas

(Professor of Psychology and former Dean of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, California, USA, Thomas teaches a large introductory Statistics course and graduate-level Statistics and research methods courses.)  

(Excerpts from a presentation at Berbice High School, New Amsterdam, Guyana; August 5, 2013)

Brief Personal History

I would like to start by acknowledging my own educational roots in Berbice, and a few of the people, institutions and events that played crucial roles in my development.

20130916diasporaMy parents, Arthur and Elaine Thomas, created a happy home in Vryheid in which there was the discipline of Saturday lessons in Arithmetic and Grammar; a strict insistence on fair play and respect for my six sisters and everybody else in the village, because my father didn’t want me to become an “educated rascal”; and the responsibility, from age 7 or 8, to ride into New Amsterdam to pay bills – $6.36 at Wrefords, $10.17 at Mr. Chapman, $3.33 at Davson’s, etc. – and then to return home with exact change!    

My father was Headmaster at Mission Chapel Congregational School in N/A.  Possibly for this reason, I always had the feeling that the teachers all thought I was special – teachers like Ms. Nightingale (now Mrs. Trim) and Mr. Semple (these two now with an average age of 90!), Mrs. Fields-Tucker, Ms. Austin (known as the best Infant Teacher in Guyana!), Ms. Peters, Ms. Stuart, Messrs. Dolphin and James, and others.  [Read more]

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  • de castro compton  On 09/18/2013 at 10:10 am

    Very very interesting read….to comment on each of the points raised
    by such an educated gentleman would not only be absurb it would be considered
    a bit rude.
    I very seldom agree so will add my 2 cents brother Thomas.
    ironically my twin brothers name was Thomas who believed almost everything
    he read….he was a pacifist !
    Education never finishes but the basics of the three R’s in teaching
    should not change…today first and second degrees can be obtained
    via our present technology but the arguments against
    it feels the “socialising” aspect of learning becomes distorted/confused.
    Since the creation of the internet I have become self educated using the
    “‘Social media’ to find some/most answers to my inquisitive mind.
    My granddaughter at 4 is more computer literate than me ….think she has my inquisitive mindset….when she discovers something new she usually rushes
    to show her grandad….
    She said to me quote “I must believe in myself first if I am to be believed”
    My response was simple ‘learn to put others first if you wish them to believe you”

    As a child growing up in my home in Golden Grove village ECD we were lucky
    to have our grandmother living with us…our home grown philosopher who died at 93 with a smile on her face….diagnosed as diabetic before losing her “marbles”
    It was fun to listen other preachings !

    It saddens me to reflect on how “politricks” has destroyed Guyanese mentality but remain forever the everlasting optimist….were u related to Clive Thomas another famous Guyana scholar …my eldest brother taught economics in UNB brazillia
    and is now retired living out his short stay on our beautiful world in Brazillia.

    Guyana is changing
    Guyana will change
    Guyana must change

    Or die in the ignorance of understanding the purpose of life.

    Philosophically yours
    Kamptan named compton Theodore gault on by my religiously destroyed mother

  • Deen  On 09/21/2013 at 3:49 am

    Yes, the best hope for progress and change in Guyana…. and for a better future for the people, lies not with the politicians or political leaders, but with the children of today, if they are properly and adequately educated.

  • de castro compton  On 09/21/2013 at 7:29 am

    Education education education….a slogan that Tony Blair (smiling political opportunist politician) propagated to win three successive terms in office….
    Most of my close friends and family involved in “teaching” agree that the “basics”
    Three R s is way forward.
    More than10/15% of UK are “illiterrate ”
    1. Big influx from non UK economic migrants
    2.30 children to a classroom
    3. Too low expectations from schools….

    There is absolute no excuse for under-performwnce in schools with the technology available today…people who teach are motivated less by monetary
    rewards……although they are well paid and with “job for life”….
    more an incentive !
    Guyana must learn from the mistakes of the so called developed world by not repeating their mistakes…the way forward.

    An interlectual is not necessarily “intelligent” but has better chance of becoming so….an illiterate person “handicapped” but can also be successful.

    I may seem contradictory in my vision but remain adamant on education education education….the political dilemma…..get it right and you become
    “electable” …get it wrong at he expense of taxpayers who can de-select you.

    My spin entirely

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