February 1, 2010

Waste not

Posted in Economics, Environment at 9:13 pm by randallbutisingh


On March 15, 2008, I sounded the wake up call to all Americans in an article “Waste not want not” exhorting them to change their way of living as I envisaged the consequences of their wasteful habits..  This year, 2009, it became pellucidly clear  that my warning was timely; the middle and lower classes especially, are paying very dearly for their prodigality.

Read my article. Many people thought that this country,  the mightiest and richest in the world could never  be reduced to the state it is in now,  heavily indebted – and  squandering the poor taxpayer’s money in aids to foreign countries, Israel, the least deserving getting  forty per cent of all aids given, enabling her to build nuclear weapons as many as India and China put together.  She is now involved in a war that should not have been,  and to which there seems to be no end;   money squandered that could have been used to better  conditions at home.

Fellow Americans, if you are optimistic to the extent to think that things will get again to  what it  was before, think again.   That will never be.  The situation now calls for a definite change of lifestyle.   To alleviate the  suffering this crisis has caused, you will have to eliminate from your budget all luxuries and most of the amenities and live simply.  Let the rule be;  “not how much I want, but how much I can do without”.   Live simply.  It will eliminate stress, save money and benefit your health.  Put the land, whatever size it may be to good use by doing some kitchen gardening, using pots, if necessary.   Store your vegetable waste and build a compost to fertilize your plants.  Plant fruit trees.  Food is a basic necessity.   For your survival, it needs to be given top priority.  Eat a little less.  This will be good for your digestive organs and your waistline.

Begin seriously to recycle.  It will help save the environment from littering and save you money.  Recycle even your envelopes as was done during the Second World War.  Do not throw away your old shoes when it is most comfortable or your socks when it has a little hole; darn it as was being done in old times.  Learn to stitch and darn.  Practise self help so you will not have to pay for every service.   Learn to walk more when you have to travel short distances;  it will be good exercise for you and will save you fuel and wear and tear on your vehicle.

Rise early.  Morning is the best part of the day;  don’t waste it.  Get into the fresh air  and walk.   See the rising sun;  hear the birds sing, observe how all nature is awake, the busy bees flitting from flower to flower to collect nectar and pollinate the flower so that you can get fruit and grain for your table.   Party less, spend less on unproductive sports and read more for knowledge and entertainment.


January 29, 2010

the Haitians

Posted in Economics, Philosophy at 2:11 am by randallbutisingh

When I look at the Haitian nation, I see a unique people, all descendants of slaves  who have been burnished in the crucible of oppression.  Now mother nature has been unkind to them and has devastated the whole country; but like the resilient people they are, they, like the mythical phoenix will rise again from the ashes with the help of symphathisers and people of good will all over the world.  Also, the spirit of their indomitable hero, one of the bravest of men, Toussaint le Ovurture, who was deceived and ruthlessly chained and cast into a dungeon,  lives on as a beacon of light and hope to inspire and sustain theirs.

It is no wonder that France, the arch revolutionist and murderer, has been facing retribution by paying dearly for her transgressions by the uprisings and destruction, time and again, by her immigrant population

Scripture has it (for the individual and for the nation);  “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap”.

My heart goes out to my Haitian brothers.  They shall overcome.

December 14, 2009


Posted in Economics, Guyana tagged , , at 4:18 pm by randallbutisingh


Annandale Today (Written in 1964)  by: Randall Butisingh.

About eleven miles from the City of Georgetown, journey East, one cannot fail to notice the compact Housing Area which extends for four hundred yards on both sides of the public road from Buxton on the East to Lusignan on the West.   The stranger will be surprised to learn that a little more than twenty years ago, this well-drained area was swampy rice fields and pasture for cattle and sheep.   He will not fail to notice the rectangular streets and macadamized roads which are kept in good state of repair and the piped water system which gets its supply from two deep artesian wells in the area.

Annandale was a grinding Sugar Estate many years ago.   It was said to be named after Ann and Dale, the daughters of the proprietor but its factory was dismantled because of its proximity to Lusignan whose factory had the capacity for grinding its sugar cane.   The workers were then removed to Lusignan where they were housed in Logies, or range houses.

How did these new houses at Annandale, which the middle class or urban dweller may envy, spring up in so short a time.   The older heads will remember that as recent as 1947, following discontent and restlessness among Sugar Workers, the Venn Commission was sent from England to investigate conditions on the Sugar Estates of British Guiana. and to make recommendations for improvement.   They found the most appalling conditions in the estates.  Apart for a small number of certain categories of workers, the majority of sugar workers live in ranges, called logies of five or six white washed, mud-floored rooms for as many families with no fences and not much privacy. These homes were also prone to flooding in the rainy season.

In 1948 the Lusignan Sugar Factory was dismantled and the canes were sent to a Central Factory at Enmore, a Sugar Estate about six miles east of Lusignan.   This too was a reason for getting the workers out of the Lusignan Estate and for speedily finding alternative accommodation for them in another area.  The Commission recommended that these ranges be pulled down and proper houses erected for the workers.

In 1949, the first interest free loans were given by The Enmore Estates Ltd to the first set of workers to be paid on the basis of a dollar a week and the logies in which they lived were sold to them for a pittance.   With the money and the materials, part of which was sound, they built the first houses on which is now called Annandale South.   These houses were to form the nucleus of a fast-growing community which now totals hundreds of houses and a population of around three thousand.   In 1950, the Sugar Industry Welfare Fund was introduced.   This fund which was raised by setting aside a small percentage of the sum collected for each ton of sugar provided the loans for the houses and also the infrastructure – proper streets, water supply and social amenities.

Within Annandale, where the land is leasehold, is an area with over a hundred and twenty houses.   This area was reserved for sale to the people of Lusignan Pasture so that they could remove from the present site which was not developed, and so leave the land vacant for the use of the estate.

However, residents of the pasture were reluctant to remove from an area with gardening and pasturing facilities and very few took the opportunity to purchase plots there.   Other workers too, who were safely accommodated in the Housing Scheme did not avail themselves of the opportunity to buy although they were given first preference.   Eventually the lands were sold to selected applicants and the section which is known as Courabane Park is made up of chiefly of residents from villages in the surrounding areas.

Courabane Park boasts the finest houses in Annandale, but it lacks the facilities of good roads, proper drainage and potable water supply.  These inadequacies however will be remedied soon within the framework of a Local Authority and Self help.

The population comprises the descendants of East Indians and Africans with Indians forming a large majority.   Most of the Indians are Hindus, a small number is Muslims and a smaller number of Christians.  Annandale also has a Government Primary and a Secondary School to serve the educational needs of the people, a Temple, an Arya Samaj Mandir, a Mosque and a Baptist Mission Church to serve their spiritual needs

A Community Centre, the best of its kind, a project of the S.I.LW.F., provides recreational facilities e.g. cricket, table tennis, volley ball, athletics and the like.  Here also can be found facilities for Adult Education, e.g. groups, films and a library.

With the availability of free Higher Education, children of the estate workers have become Graduates of the University of Guyana, or have attained certificates at the ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels of the G.C.E. Examinations.   Annandale has produced to date (1964) two medical doctors, a lawyer, two sanitary inspectors, and a number of teachers, nurses, accountants, mechanics, tailors, carpenters and other skilled workers.

Recently, Annandale has projected itself on the literary scene and during the past year works of three of its creative writers.  Among them is a young poet and story writer Rooplall Monar with a string of National prizes.  His work has appeared in local and Caribbean anthologies and magazines.  The others are Bramdeo Persaud, poet and short story writer and Guska, a brilliant student, poet and artist.

In the field of music Ramdhan is rated the best player of the dholak (Indian drum) in the Caribbean.   His son is following in his footsteps, and Sugrim  Samaroo, as player of the harmonium and mandolin.

In athletics, Annandale has produced three athletes of note – Sheik Hassan, Twahir Ali and R.D. Singh.  Sheik Hassan is at present in Neighbouring Surinam where he is imparting his skill and techniques to the youths over there.  Twahir, the veteran is active in the Athletic Group at the Community Centre.   R.D.Singh, the youngest of the three was the winner of the Caribbean long distance championship in Grenada.

For the physical needs of the area there are large groceries and parlours, hardware and dry goods stores, a furniture mart, and spirit shops. It also has two garment factories, two mechanic shops, a welding shop and two small printers.  Its market is one of the largest on the East Coast, but it is accommodated in makeshift tents on both sides of the Main road.   It operates for about four busy hours starting about 11 a.m. every day except Sundays.  After about two p.m. vendors and buyers clear the street and everything becomes quiet again.

Annandale as an Extra Nuclear Area has hitherto enjoyed freedom from rates and taxes and the help of the S.I.LW.F. (Sugar Estates Labour Welfare Fund),  in the maintenance of roads, internal drainage and water supply facilities, but these privileges will go under the system of Village Administration and the residents will have to be faced with the obligation of supplying the facilities for themselves through rates and taxes and by means of Self and Cooperation.

November 18, 2009


Posted in Buxton, Economics, Friendship, Guyana, Lusignan, Politics tagged , at 6:32 pm by randallbutisingh



By Harry Hergash

Harry Hergash, a graduate of the University of Guyana, taught at the Annandale Government Secondary from 1964 to 1969. He immigrated to Canada in 1974.

In this column I would like to share my recollections of the village of Buxton-Friendship, East Coast Demerara. Historically, after starting out as separate villages that were purchased and built by freed African slaves, they were amalgamated into one around 1841.  By the beginning of the nineteen sixties, Buxton-Friendship was possibly the most progressive and prosperous village in Guyana. It was known for its highly educated sons and daughters, civic minded citizens, hard working farmers and fisherman, skilled tradesmen, and prosperous business people, where citizens of African and Indian origins lived together peacefully.

Indians, who started arriving in the village in the 1890s, emulated the Africans in striving for education and social betterment in the country. By the 1950s they were scattered throughout the village with concentrated enclaves in the area along the seashore, referred to as Buxton Front, where there were some of the most renowned sea-fishermen in the country; on both sides of the railway embankment around the railway station where they worked as pawnbrokers and jewellers, and operated clothing and hardware stores; and in the area along Brush dam where they raised cattle and grew rice in adjoining estate lands. Most if not all of them adhered to Indian cultural traditions, and Buxton could boast of having some of the most educated and finest Indian musicians and singers of Chowtaals, Ramayan and Bhajans.

I remember Saturdays and Mondays as prime market days at the municipal market next to the Post Office, just off Company Road, a stone’s throw from the railway station. The interaction and relationships between Africans and Indians were based on mutual respect and trust, befitting two peoples who depended on the fruits of each other’s labour. Indians from the estate areas of Lusignan Pasture and Annandale Sand Reef to the West and Vigilance to the East would bring their produce of garden vegetables (ochro, bora, calaloo, etc.) to sell to the African villagers who would sell them fruits, plantains and ground provisions (cassava, eddoes, sweet potatoes, etc.). Both groups would then patronise the fishermen and the butchers who operated their stalls in a corner of the market where the odour was quite distinct. Before noon, the efficient Mr. Brown would have already completed his rounds and collected from vendors all market fees.

During my childhood in the 1950s, I traversed every street and cross street in the combined village in the company of my grandparents and uncles who sold feed to the many self-employed villagers who farmed the back-lands and raised chicken and pigs in their yards. Every Sunday morning we travelled around the village in a dray cart hauled by three donkeys laden with paddy, broken rice and bhoosi (pulverized rice shells produced during milling) which was sold to customers to be used as chicken and pig feed. By midday, with our task completed after serving the last customer along Friendship Middle Walk, we would stop at the Esso station, the first petrol station to be built on the East Coast of Demerara, where I would get a treat of Brown Betty ice-cream or Fudgsicle while the elders collected the “wet-cell” battery that had been left the week before for recharging.. In those days, radio sets of that period with names such as KB, Grundig, Phillips and Pye, were operated in the rural areas with current from a battery similar to a motor-car’s battery that had to be recharged periodically at a gas station.

Regrettably, the madness of racial discord and intolerance raised its ugly head in the country in 1963 and by 1964 Buxton-Friendship, like other parts of the country, was consumed. As Indians hurriedly relocated from the predominantly African villages to the safety of predominantly Indian areas, Africans did the same in the reverse. Even then, many good people on both sides risked their lives and property to help those on the other side, but it was not enough to stem the mass migration from villages and the formation of segregated communities. This was the beginning of squatting areas or shantytowns in Guyana. Overnight pastures and swamplands were cramped with makeshift houses and places like Lusignan East and West, Haslington, Logwood, etc. came into being.

Sadly, Buxton-Friendship never recovered from this restructuring. With independence coming shortly thereafter and government jobs becoming readily available, many African villagers deserted the self- sufficiency of independent occupations – carpentry, cabinet making, blacksmith, guttersmith, farming and the raising of livestock, opting instead for the apparent security of salaried occupations.  As the village tax base deteriorated, critical infrastructural work on roads, drainage and irrigation was neglected, and by the time the oil crisis and world-wide economic downturn hit us, both citizens and the village as a whole found it difficult to cope which resulted in the serious political repercussions of later years.

Buxton-Friendship’s loss of Indian fishermen and business people was the gain of Annandale and Lusignan. Almost overnight, in the midst of the turmoil and agony of 1964, a market developed in Annandale North’s Centre Street, rechristened “Market Street”. It quickly replaced Buxton’s municipal market as the commercial centre for the surrounding areas, and by 1965, African Buxtonians were also patronizing the vendors in Annandale. Likewise many of the hardware and clothing stores relocated to Annandale.  And the fishermen formerly of Buxton Front became the enterprising fishermen of Lusignan East where the fishing industry was taken to new heights as the importation of salted cod and canned fish was banned during the period of economic hardship of the 1980s.

Now more than four decades later, as I reflect on the deaths and destruction of 1964 and the havoc wreaked on the communities of Buxton and Annandale, I cannot help but recall that it was the ordinary citizens, not the external forces that combined to destabilise the country, and certainly not those individual politicians of both major parties in whose names the so many horrendous acts were perpetrated, who were the victims and losers in all the madness and mayhem. It was these ordinary folks who became homeless, and it was their children who became motherless, fatherless or orphans. And when it came to healing and restoring some semblance of peace and harmony, it was community leaders who had to pick up the pieces. It was Eusi Kwayana as the respected leader of Buxton, and Pandit Ramsahai Doobay as the respected leader of Annandale, who met with then British Colonial Secretary, Duncan Sandys, on the Annandale Side-line dam (then referred to as the Maginot line, a term used by the French in the Second World War) to discuss and work out arrangements that played their own part in establishing an uneasy peace in the villages.

I am now an emigrant from the land of my birth. As I follow developments of recent years in the communities of Buxton-Friendship and neighbouring areas, I am saddened that lessons of the past seem to have been forgotten. Ordinary citizens of these communities have once again been the victims and they are the ones who once again have to start rebuilding the good inter-personal relationships and trust, sorely damaged by needless strife and violence. The time has surely come for people to realize that while politicians remain unscathed and continue to enjoy the perquisites of office, it is they the poor folks who will always have to bear the consequences of actions by their “representatives”. It is they who have to live side by side as neighbours and interact with each other. As we look to the future, let us be guided by the actions and teachings of the elders of our communities. Let us remember a time not so very long ago, when an African grandmother would give a special bath of blue water to an Indian child to protect that child from the mythical “old-higue”, and an Indian mother would pay a penny to nominally “buy” an African child so that child could grow up to be healthy and strong. Let us remember our history.

(This is one of a series of weekly columns from Guyanese in the diaspora and others with an interest in issues related to Guyana and the Caribbean)


October 1, 2009

The Extra Degree

Posted in Economics, Philosophy tagged , , at 3:24 am by randallbutisingh

The Extra Degree

As a leader in a company, how would you like to create a culture of excellence; where your people serve each customer with passion and serve each other with respect? Would you like to have a culture where the team worked together to achieve common goals and each employee consistently strived to get better; where smiles and positive attitudes were the norm and not the exception?

It would be a safe bet to guess that your answer would be…where do I sign?

One thing that has been proven many times is…a culture of excellence will not happen on its own! It takes a lot of work and a lot of continuous reinforcement. It starts at the top and answering these 3 questions is a first step for success:

  1. How do I keep it simple? Less is always more.
  2. How can I make it memorable?
  3. How many times can I communicate it, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?

To some this may sound like simple, common sense stuff. But to do it right, it’s anything but simple. It takes a plan, a commitment, and a call to action. Enter 212°: The Extra Degree:

At 211 degrees…water is hot.
At 212 degrees…it boils.
And with boiling water, comes steam.
And steam can power a locomotive.
And, it’s that one extra degree that…
Makes all the difference.

And, of course, so many times, in business and in life, it’s that one extra degree of effort that separates the good from the great. What I love about the 212° idea is that you can use it to fit your own needs. It may be 212° service that you’d like to reinforce, or 212° attitude, leadership, or quality. Or maybe, you’ll choose to build your entire company culture around the 212° concept…to differentiate you from your competition.

However, what makes the 212° concept #1 in my mind is this: It’s very simple, but more importantly, it’s MEMORABLE! If you’re trying to create a 212° culture your people will get it! And, not only will they get it – they’ll remember it! When you say 212° service, they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about; when you say 212° attitude, teamwork, leadership; they’ll understand.

— An excerpt from 212°: The Extra Degree by Mac Anderson and Sam Parker

Submitted by Cyril Bryan – Guest Contributor.


Although this entry which has been posted by me is focused on business and the attitude of employees within the business, I thought it was a good entry for this Blog.

In life, we should not separate business from other aspects of our life … Why?

Because everything is connected. You cannot fake your personality at work for long… eventually your real self will be revealed. It is the same with all aspects of daily life. Faking a persona may make you ego feel important as you present a personality package that is really not your real self. This is a tiring process as it takes real energy to keep such a facade  up on a daily basis. It is therefore much better to look inward and  “find your real self ” and project that as YOU.  Life would become so less stressful!

Maybe you are ashamed of the real YOU. Well, if you are, then do something about  it to make that YOU a more perfect YOU as time goes by. Remember we all have positive and negative aspects in our persona… the Ying and the Yang, so we have to accept both as no one is perfect. However we should all try to be more emotionally intelligent. We must try to be better persons each day and promote the positive values that would aid in the making of a better world during our relatively short sorjorn here.

Cyril Bryan

September 23, 2009

“The greatest human being who ever lived”

Posted in Economics, Environment, Science & Technology tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:07 am by randallbutisingh

Monday, September 21, 2009 06:25 PM

The death of the greatest human being who ever lived

Norman Borlaug saved between 200 million and 1 billion people, depending on the math

Norman Borlaug saved between 200 million and 1 billion people, depending on the math

By: Andrew Steele – Globe and Mail Newspaper, Toronto. Canada.

Norman Borlaug is dead. (Click on his name to see his Biography on http://www.Nobelprize.org)

That probably means nothing to most people.

But Borlaug – along with other researchers who create the Green Revolution in food production – saved between two hundred million people and one billion people, depending on how you do the math.

Norman Borlaug spent decades with the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico cross-breeding grain varieties to produce a new disease-resistant dwarf strain of wheat that transformed agriculture, especially in the third world.

Previously, nations from Turkey to Mexico to India were rocked regularly by crop failures. Too much or too little rain, heat or cold could plunge entire nations into famine, war or revolution.

In the 1960’s, Borlaug introduced new strains that absorbed more nitrogen and thus grew faster. Previously, plants that grew faster just fell over and rotted, but Borlaug cross bred them with shorter “dwarf” plants with hardy thick stalks that could stand up to high nitrogen absorption. The result was fast-growing, disease-resistant plants perfect for unstable climates.

He also introduced backcrossing techniques that increased their disease resistance through selective breeding.

Most importantly, he was focused on using these techniques specifically to alleviate starvation in the developing world. His goal was always to attack famine, not merely to improve margins in agribusiness.

His impact was immediate and dramatic.

When his seeds were used widely in 1963, Mexico instantly went from famine-prone to a wheat-exporter. Their wheat harvest was six times greater after Borlaug was done than before he started his work. Imagine the compromised stability of Canada and the United States if Mexico were still endured regular famines threatening the lives of millions.

Borlaug’s seeds arrived on the sub-continent in 1965 as it was roiling through famine and war. Within five years, the previously starving Pakistan was self-sufficient for grains. India would be self-sufficient within a decade. The two nations were transformed. It is impossible to conceive of the great leaps of Mumbai and Kolkata in an India still experiencing regular famine. Consider the reception of the Taliban in Northern Pakistan if the government could not prevent famine in that region. Food security is a huge contributor to world peace.

He would go on to introduce new rice strains in China and grains in Africa that would continue to save millions.

It was conventional wisdom in the 1960s that hundreds of millions would die of mass starvation and no one could do anything about it. Biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote in 1968, “the battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…”

Borlaug did.

His persistence and inventiveness demolished a horseman of the apocalypse. Today, the causes of famine are almost always political rather than weather. The disaster is far less common in the south and virtually forgotten in the developed world.

For his efforts, Borlaug won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was the subject of an episode of Penn and Teller’s Bullshit where he was lauded as the “Greatest Human Being Who Has Ever Lived.”

Some critics have attempted to argue that Borlaug’s work contributed to the environmental challenges of today, that the population growth of the last forty years contributed to or even caused climate change or resource depletion. Others have decried his invention as “genetically modified food,” which it undeniably is.

Borlaug himself remained concerned about population growth and resource use. But the reality is that Borlaug’s work was instrumental in saving the hundreds of millions of lives and hundreds of millions of trees. The Borlaug Hypothesis in agronomy states “increasing the productivity of agriculture on the best farmland can help control deforestation by reducing the demand for new farmland.” In other words, you do a better job with what you have and you won’t need to use virgin resources.

Of his harshest critics Borlaug stated, “some… are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.”

Borlaug remained grounded despite his elevation to sainthood with the Nobel Prize win. He continued to work in Africa, Asia and Latin America improving crop yields. In 1986, he created the World Food Prize to continue to spark innovation in food production.

Norman Borlaug died on September 12, 2009, at 95 years of age. His family released a simple statement that “We would like his life to be a model for making a difference in the lives of others and to bring about efforts to end human misery for all mankind.”

When Princess Diana died, television networks covered it 24/7. Michael Jackson’s passing created a tsunami of Internet traffic. I learned about Borlaug’s passing on the sidebar of a news website on global development issues in foreign policy.

Norman Borlaug goes to a better place having made the Earth undeniably better, safer and freed from hunger.

And he goes in virtual silence……


– Submitted by Cyril Bryan – Guest Contributor.

August 11, 2009

A 1924 History of British Guiana

Posted in Economics, Education, Guyana, History, Politics tagged , , , at 1:40 am by randallbutisingh

A 1924 History of British Guiana

. The St. Stanislaus College was a Jesuit-run High School in British Guiana, which became a Government high School after Independence in 1966, when British Guiana became Guyana.

St Stanislaus has a very vibrant Alumni Association in Toronto. The group has managed to get a copy of a book (126 pages) on the history of British Guiana, written in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, and printed in London by Sanders Phillips & Co., Ltd., at the Baynard Press, Chryssell Road, London SW9.
It makes for very interesting reading and gives the history, geography, economic statistics and social information like population etc. One may note from the contents that the colony at the time was under-appreciated by the its colonial masters. Now with Independence the same under- appreciation continues as the current masters have done little to take full advantage of the abundant natural resources of the country.
Thanks to alumnus John Sparrock, we have digitized this book it and placed it on a web-site so as to be accessible for all those who are interested in the history of British Guiana, before Independence.
To read it online or save it for future reading, go to :
 The whole document (126 pages) can be downloaded  from the Guyanese Online Blog as it is no longer on the St. Stanislaus website.  Go to:-
There are also photographs in the book but, to conserve space, these were separated and placed in :

June 27, 2009

What is Happiness?

Posted in Economics, Education, Friendship, Philosophy tagged , , , , , at 9:07 pm by randallbutisingh

What Is Happiness?:  tips from a comprehensive study.

“Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study’s longtime director, George Vaillant. (The Atlantic – June 2009)

.Atlantic Magazine published an article in June 2009,  which features the results of an interesting and comprehensive  72 year old study, that began way back to 1937 and continues up to now, of  the lives of 286 Harvard university graduates. Many of the study members have passed on as the study group advances in age, but the study highlights some interesting insights on their lives that we can all learn from.

What HAPPINESS is all about is the main theme of the study. Journalist Joshua Shenk, who wrote the article in Atlantic Magazine summed up the findings as: “Herein lies the key to a good life–not rules to follow, nor problems to avoid– but an engaged humility, an earnest acceptance of life’s pains and promises.”

.You can read the whole article and also look at a very interesting video with the article by going to this link : Atlantic Magazine. or clicking on the following address:


If you would like to see the video that is in the article, then click on this link:


I do hope that you enjoy the article and the video and that it does give you some insights as to what is really important in our life journey here on Earth.

– Cyril Bryan, Guest Contributor

June 19, 2009

What is education?

Posted in Economics, Education tagged , , , at 4:41 am by randallbutisingh

The emphasis on grades…

In the emphasis placed on getting good grades, educators have lost sight of the the true aim of education which is “to fit the child to live and to live with”.  This means after the child  has passed through the system, he will be physically, mentally and morally equipped to make a decent livelihood from the vocation of his choice,  have good relationships with his fellow men by being civil and courteous; always willing to give a helping hand to one in need;   be able to choose a refreshing and healthful hobby, refrain from what will cause addiction, be able to keep his body clean and healthy, knowing it to be the temple of God,  love the beautiful things of life: good poetry, good music, the beauties of Nature and always open to receive useful knowledge.

If any of the components mentioned above is missing, the individual will have a lopsided personality and he will become a  misfit  in society.  In short the primary aim of Education is the the building of character.  Without paying regard to  Character building, Education will, like an improperly cultivated soil  yield rank weeds instead of edibles.

Again, competition should not be encouraged in school.  It does more harm than good to education.  It encourages cheating and unhealthy rivalry. Every child should be allowed to develop at its own rate and be commended for effort.     The saddest thing that can be said of education is that the hidden talents of the child had not been discovered.

Teachers, know that you are not only teaching a subject but a child, and it is in your interest to know the child as well as the subject.  I have written a paper on the “Role of the School”, which though it was written for education in the middle part of the twentieth century, you will find principles that can be applied today. Here is the link the first of the four articles on the “Role of the School”.


I also have other articles on Education which can be found  in this Weblog. Type in “Education” in the search and get a list of articles that mention education.

June 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

Posted in Economics, Education, History, Politics, Psychology, Science & Technology, USA politics tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:07 pm by randallbutisingh

An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

Summer 2009

From Herbert Kohl

<<It is hard for me to understand how educators can claim that they are creating high standards when the substance and content of learning is reduced to the mechanical task of getting a correct answer on a manufactured test. In the panic over teaching students to perform well on reading tests, educators seem to have lost sight of the fact that reading is a tool, an instrument that is used for pleasure and for the acquisition of knowledge and information about the way the world works. The mastery of complex reading skills develops as students grapple with ideas, learn to understand plot and character, and develop and articulate opinions on literature. They also develop through learning history, science, and technology.>>

Dear Arne Duncan,

In a recent interview with NEA Today you said of my book 36 Children, “I read [it] in high school … [and] … wrote about his book in one of my college essays, and I talked about the tremendous hope that I feel [and] the challenges that teachers in tough communities face. The book had a big impact on me.”

When I wrote 36 Children in 1965 it was commonly believed that African American students, with a few exceptions, simply could not function on a high academic level. The book was motivated by my desire to provide a counter-example, one I had created in my classroom, to this cynical and racist view, and to let the students’ creativity and intelligence speak for itself. It was also intended to show how important it was to provide interesting and complex curriculum that integrated the arts and sciences, and utilized the students’ own culture and experiences to inspire learning. I discovered then, in my early teaching career, that learning is best driven by ideas, challenges, experiences, and activities that engage students. My experience over the past 45 years has confirmed this.

We have come far from that time in the ’60s. Now the mantra is high expectations and high standards. Yet, with all that zeal to produce measurable learning outcomes we have lost sight of the essential motivations to learn that moved my students. Recently I asked a number of elementary school students what they were learning about and the reactions were consistently, “We are learning how to do good on the tests.” They did not say they were learning to read.

It is hard for me to understand how educators can claim that they are creating high standards when the substance and content of learning is reduced to the mechanical task of getting a correct answer on a manufactured test. In the panic over teaching students to perform well on reading tests, educators seem to have lost sight of the fact that reading is a tool, an instrument that is used for pleasure and for the acquisition of knowledge and information about the way the world works. The mastery of complex reading skills develops as students grapple with ideas, learn to understand plot and character, and develop and articulate opinions on literature. They also develop through learning history, science, and technology.

Reading is not a series of isolated skills acquired in a sanitized rote-learning environment utilizing “teacher-proof” materials. It develops through interaction with a knowledgeable, active teacher—through dialogue, and critical analysis. It also develops through imaginative writing and research.

It is no wonder that the struggle to coerce all students into mastering high-stakes testing is hardest at the upper grades. The impoverishment of learning taking place in the early grades naturally leads to boredom and alienation from school-based learning. This disengagement is often stigmatized as “attention deficit disorder.” The very capacities that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is trying to achieve are undermined by the way in which the law is implemented.

This impoverishment of learning is reinforced by cutting programs in the arts. The free play of the imagination, which is so crucial for problem-solving and even for entrepreneurship, is discouraged in a basics curriculum lacking in substantial artistic and human content.

Add to this the elimination of physical education in order to clear more time to torture students with mechanical drilling and shallow questioning and it is no wonder that many American students are lethargic when it comes to ideas and actions. I’m sure that NCLB has, in many cases, a direct hand in the development of childhood obesity.

It is possible to maintain high standards for all children, to help students learn how to speak thoughtfully, think through problems, and create imaginative representations of the world as it is and as it could be, without forcing them through a regime of high-stakes testing. Attention has to be paid to the richness of the curriculum itself and time has to be allocated to thoughtful exploration and experimentation. It is easy to ignore content when the sole focus is on test scores.

Your administration has the opportunity, when NCLB comes up for re-authorization, to set the tone, aspirations, and philosophical and moral grounds for reform that develops the intelligence, creativity, and social and personal sensitivity of students. I still hold to the hope you mentioned you took away from 36 Children but I sometimes despair about how we are wasting the current opportunity to create truly effective schools where students welcome the wonderful learning that we as adults should feel privileged to provide them.

I would welcome any opportunity to discuss these and other educational issues with you.

Sincerely, Herbert Kohl


COMMENT by Cyril Bryan, Guest Contributor.

Readers would note that some of the most popular items on this Web log relate to education. This is mainly due to the fact that Randall Butisingh has written his thoughts, and novel ideas relating to education which he practiced as a teacher for over 40 years.

I have selected this article “An Open Letter to Arne Duncan”, written by Herbert Kohl for inclusion on this Blog as the ideas of Mr. Kohl , I think, mirrors those that have been advanced by Mr. Butisingh in his writings. Mr. Arne Duncan, to whom this letter is addressed is the Education Secretary in the USA Obama government. Since the elections, there has been intensive politicking in regard to education in the USA as there are vested interests, like they are in Health Care, against change…. and Change is sorely needed in both of these critical areas, where most of the country’s budgets are spent.

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education strategies have failed, and what will replace them is the center of intense debate. Many of the issues that have been raised in relation to modern education, are the same in most countries of the world, so many countries could learn from the American experience.  The stress on passing exams through rote learning and the limited curriculum that excludes the arts and other creative subjects has created students who are unfit for this modern world that rewards creativity and adaptability. Education that stifles creativity also stifles the culture, economy and progress of a country, especially in these times of rapid technological change.

We do hope that the USA Education Secretary Arnie Duncan does read this letter and take note of its valuable insights. He said in the NEA Today Interview that he did read Mr Kohl’s book “36 Children””, and wrote on it in one of his College essays, and that the book did have an impact on him….. so he should understand what Mr. Kohl is talking about. Let us all hope that he does, and is capable of implementing at least some of them, for the sake of the USA and the World.

– Cyril Bryan

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