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……

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– Submitted by Cyril Bryan – Guest Contributor.

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July 7, 2009

THE HUMAN BODY

Posted in Philosophy, Science & Technology tagged , , , at 4:33 pm by randallbutisingh

The heart beats 36 millions times every year pumping the blood through more than sixty thousand miles of veins, arteries and tubing pumping more than six hundred thousand gallons every year.

Within your five quarts of blood are twenty-two trillion blood cells.  Within each are millions of molecules.  Within each molecule is an atom oscillating at more than ten millions times every second.

Every second two millions of your blood cells die and are replaced by 2,000,000 more.

The brain is the most complex structure.  Within its three pounds are 13, 000,000,000 nerve cells, more than three times as many people as there are on earth. Implanted in the cells are more than one thousand billion billion protein molecules.

Within you is enough energy to destroy any of the world’s great cities and rebuild it.

Comment:

Contemplate on this O man and wonder!  Your body is an intricate and complex machinery designed by an Omniscient power that is beyond the comprehension of the transient mind and intellect.  Within it, the  spirit pervades.  Seek enlightment  to understand by, as Jesus said; Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be open unto you.

– Randall Butisingh

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

February 28, 2009

Did You Know…?

Posted in Economics, Education, History, Politics, Science & Technology tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:56 pm by randallbutisingh

DID YOU KNOW?

We are living in “exponential times”, according to this fantastic video on the progression of information technology in recent times. The statistics has been researched by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, and Jeff Bronman. It highlights the facts of today’s world by listing the rapid and world-changing technological changes that have occurred  and projects that there will be even more exponential changes in the future.

Most of all this video should remind us that in this era of rapid change, that we have to prepare ourselves for “CHANGE”, so that we can adjust to the new world realities. It proves that our personal education has to be a lifelong endeavor as we will be doing completely new jobs as the world around us is transformed – Rapid technological change makes some jobs and careers obsolete, while creating new jobs and careers that are now in their infancy. Being aware of trends, and taking advantage of the new opportunities available in this new era is paramount if one is to be successful in the 21st century.

– Cyril Bryan – Guest Contributor

February 6, 2009

BLACK HISTORY IS WORLD HISTORY

Posted in History, Philosophy, Poetry, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Science & Technology tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:44 am by randallbutisingh

 

 

BLACK HISTORY IS WORLD HISTORY

By Marvin X->Before the Earth was
I was
Before time was
I was
you found me not long ago and
called me Lucy
I was four million years old
I had my tools beside me
I am the first man
call me Adam
I walked the Nile from Congo to Delta
a 4,000 mile jog
BLACK HISTORY IS WORLD HISTORY

I lived in the land of Canaan
before Abraham, before Hebrew was born
I am Canaan, son of Ham
I laugh at Arabs and Jews
fighting over my land
I lived in Saba, Southern Arabia
I played in the Red Sea
dwelled on the Persian Gulf
I left my mark from Babylon to Timbuktu
When Babylon acted a fool, there was me
I was the fool
When Babylon fell, that was me
I fell

BLACK HISTORY IS WORLD HISTORY

I was the first European
call me Negrito and Grimaldi
I walked along the Mediterranean
from Spain to Greece
Oh, Greece!
Why did you kill Socrates?
Why did you give him the poison hemlock?
Who were the gods he introduced
corrupting the youth of Athens?
They were my gods, black gods from Africa
Oh, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
Whose philosophy did you teach
that was Greek to the Greeks?
Pythagoras, where did you learn geometry?
Democritus, where did you study astronomy?
Solon and Lycurgus, where did you study law?
In Egypt, and Egypt is Africa
and Africa is me
I am the burnt face, the blameless Ethiopian
Homer told you about in the Iliad
Homer told you about Ulysses, too,
a story he got from me.
BLACK HISTORY IS WORLD HISTORY

I am the Chinese
China has my eyes
I am the Aboriginal Asian
Look for me in Viet Nam, Cambodia & Thailand
I am there, even today, black and beautiful
BLACK HISTORY IS WORLD HISTORY

I used to travel to America
long before Columbus
came to me asking for directions
Americo Vespucci
on his voyage to America
saw me in the Atlantic
returning to Africa
America was my home
Before Aztec, Maya, Toltec, Inca & Olmec
I was here
I came to Peru 20,000 years ago
I founded Mexico City
See my pyramids, see my cabeza colosal
in Vera Cruz and Yucatan
that’s me
I am the Mexican
for I am mixed with all men
and all men are mixed with me
I am the most just of men
I am the most peaceful
who loves peace day and night
Sometimes I let tyrants devour me
sometimes people falsely accuse me
sometimes people crucify me
but I am ever returning
I am eternal, I am universal
Africa is my home
Asia is my home
Americas is my home
BLACK HISTORY IS WORLD HISTORY

Source: NetNoir

Netnoir has a number of very good features about Black History Month. Here’s one of the best. C. Stone Brown says that Napoleon shot the nose off the Sphinx in Egypt because it looked African.

And speaking of Europeans and Egypt, it is worth noting how Egypt has been “appropriated” from Africa by academic bigots who don’t want to believe that the pyramids and other early feats of civilization are in any sense “African”.

You could Link and join Netvibes at the following URL:

http://www.netvibes.com/netnoir


January 23, 2009

The Year 1908…. 100 years ago

Posted in Economics, Education, Environment, Philosophy, Science & Technology tagged , , , , , at 3:56 am by randallbutisingh

THE YEAR 1908 – 100 years ago

Show this to your children and grandchildren

1908 Ford Model-R

Shown above is a 1908 Ford Model-R automobile

This will boggle your mind, I know it did mine!

The year is 1908.
One hundred years ago.
What a difference a century makes!
Here are some statistics for the Year 1908 :

************ ********* ********* ******
The average life expectancy was 47 years.
Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents per hour.
The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year .
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,
A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME .

Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!
Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which
Were condemned in the press AND the government as ‘substandard. ‘

Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used
Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from
Entering into their country for any reason.

Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza 2. Tuberculosis  3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease  5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.
The population of Las Vegas , Nevada, was only 30!!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea had not been invented yet.
There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write.
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, ‘Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health’ …..( Shocking? DUH! )

Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE ! U.S.A. !

Now I forwarded this from someone else without typing it myself, and sent it to you and others all over  the world, via my Weblog on the Internet, in a matter of seconds!

Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.

IT STAGGERS THE MIND!!!!

January 18, 2009

Introducing Lyndon Barton

Posted in Buxton, Education, Guyana, Science & Technology tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:24 am by randallbutisingh

Dear Teacher Randall,

 Just wanted to share with you a copy of my most recent artwork (shown below), hoping that you will enjoy it. This is a scene of a home in rural Pennsylvania, which I was commissioned by its owner to do, and the medium is colored pencil.

 Also attached is a brief background write-up for your information.

 Once again, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you for first being that special teacher you were to me in elementary school who encouraged me with my artwork, then later as a colleague and now a friend.

 Sincerely,

 Lyndon

Painting by Lyndon Barton

Painting by Lyndon Barton

 

 ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Lyndon O. Barton,  is a resident of Newark, Delaware, and former senior engineer with the E. I. DuPont Company,. He was born in Buxton, Guyana, where he received both his elementary and secondary education, attending St. Augustine’s Anglican School (later Friendship Government Secondary School) in Buxton and Guyanese College, in Georgetown.

 After high school, Lyndon returned to St. Augustine’s and taught for approximately 5 years, then entered the civil service, where he served as Class II Clerk, until his departure from Guyana for the United States.

Arriving in the U.S., Lyndon entered Howard University, where he pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Upon graduation he joined the DuPont Company and, while a full-time employee with this company, completed a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware.

 From a youth, Lyndon has always pursued art as hobby and later an vocation. In that pursuit, he received numerous recognitions/awards for his artistic work, and as an independent student he was successful in earning the General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) in Art from the University of London.

Continuing with art as an avocation in the U.S, he was recognized by the Committee for Improvement of Buxton (CIMBUX), a U.S. based Guyanese organization, for his contribution to Buxton in the field of Art.

 

Although Lyndon has worked with various media, his most recent renderings have been in colored pencil. These include and LANDMARKS OF BUXTON, his hometown, LANDMARKS OF NEWARK, Delaware, where he currently resides, and scenes from A STUDY HALL, based on classroom observations as a substitute high school teacher. These works have been displayed in one-man exhibitions at various locations in Delaware.

 

In addition to his artistic pursuits, Lyndon is an author, inventor, and college instructor. As an author, he has to his credit a college textbook entitled, Mechanism Analysis (first and second editions), written for mechanical engineers and students, plus numerous technical papers, and was listed in Who’s Who in Engineering and Science 1994/1995 edition by Marquis Publications. As an inventor, he holds four U.S. patents on various board game accessories and designs greeting cards. As a college instructor, he has lectured in mechanical engineering, but now teaches mathematics at the Delaware State University.

December 13, 2008

The Human Soul: An Ancient Idea

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, Science & Technology tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:21 am by randallbutisingh

The Human Soul: An Ancient Idea

Meredith F. Small
LiveScience’s Human Nature Columnist
livescience.com – Fri Nov 28, 2008.

A friend recently told me that he had finally, in middle age, found his soul mate. She was a woman he barely knew, but he was willing to give up everything to be in her sphere. With glassy eyes, he described how they were special, destined to find each other, and that in coming together they made each other whole.

It was hard to not laugh at my friend’s pronouncement of wandering souls crashing together, because most adults are long past that ephemeral kind of love and way into the hard reality of day-to-day living with someone, no matter the condition of their soul.

But my friend would be heartened by the discovery by archaeologists from the Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago of a stone slab with an inscription that confirms that people like him have been into the idea of a soul for a very long time.

The slab, or stele, was recovered from an Iron Age city called Sam’al in Turkey. It dates to around the 8th century B.C. On the 800-pound, three-foot-tall piece of rock was an incised picture of a man, the deceased, who was presumably cremated, and words that explained that the soul of this man now resided within the stone slab.

What is it with humans and the idea of a soul? The ancient Greeks, who were around about the same time as the slab was cut, also loved the idea of a soul, and most cultures and religions today buy into it as well. Yet there’s no evidence that such a thing really exists. But still, even the most cynical of us is always trying to save our souls, damn other people’s souls, and searching for soul mates.

It’s hard to say exactly when the idea of a second self came into play. Presumably the recognition of a soul appeared hand-in-hand with human consciousness, and it was probably voiced when we had language to put the idea of a soul into words. That would place the time frame for a soul around 200,000 years ago, when humans experienced a cultural explosion which they expressed in art, clothing, and evidence of religion.

Clearly, at that point and beyond, humans had moved beyond solving how to find enough food, and they were using their excess brain power and leisure time to think of other things.

In that sense, the idea of a soul, or any kind of human spirituality, might simply be the product of too much brain and too much free time.

It might also be an evolutionary strategy that takes us away from the anxieties of self-consciousness. Once fully modern humans knew they could die, it probably made sense to pretend that no one really died but that some part of us lived on into the cosmos.

Given the vagaries of ancient life, it probably also made sense to invent souls that had the power to haunt and cause harm to explain all the bad stuff in life.

In fact, every culture, even today, has some concept that separates the spirit from the body, confirming that like my dreamy friend, humans seem compelled to think of themselves as something more than the sum of our biological parts, even if that belief makes us do foolish earthly things.

Comment by Randall Butisingh:

There are many erudite scientists who think like this, and nothing can change them.  They would  like to convince others of their brilliance and correct thinking .   Indeed, they can only think, but cannot feel.  Inspiration and intuition are not in their dictionary. These are the people who would not be able to write “poetry which is nearer to the truth than history”. They would be unable to taste the ecstasy like those with a consciousness that keeps expanding with wisdom. They lack imagination.  They are not like Einstein, perhaps the greatest of scientists, who was able to experience  God beyond limited science.  They have not heard of the yogis, the sufis and the mystics who have all had spiritual experiences.  So let them keep their mouths shut .  There are the people as Thomas Edison puts it, “We do not know one millionth of one percent of anything”.

—————————————————————————————————————–

Comment by Cyril Bryan:

This blog entry was selected by me and Mr Butisingh has commented on it. It was selected as its views are held by many and  the news item has received wide coverage recently. Its views are antithetical to the themes promoted by this blog. However, it has been included to invite comments. It promotes man as a “mechanistic being”, with no soul. Nietzsche said “God id dead!”; Marx said “Religion is the opiate of the people!”. We know the history of the Godless promoters of Fascism and Communism. The last century is replete with examples of Man’s Inhumanity to Man. We still have not learned as we continue on the path of self destruction.

The mechanistic man has no soul or afterlife, so how can he live this physical life in harmony with the Universe? With no soul he may seek unlimited power to destroy with no fear of retribution. So the promoters of “free will” and “scientific reality” see nothing but the physical man, ignoring the writings of the sages of yore and the obvious awakening of the world to a new awareness and connection to the “cosmic energy” that connects all living and inanimate things. Our experiences in technology have proven to us that not because you cannot see waves that electricity that wireless communications is not possible. The “discoveries” of the last century have shown us the connecting links of all science which is really man’s outward reflections of his being. What you do not see does not mean that it is not there in the Universe.

The ancient knowledge of the sages and the thinkers are being revealed every day as relevant in today’s world, even though we think we are more advanced with our electronic toys. Opening the “Doors of Perception” reveals man vibrating at various wavelengths and being aware of “realities” not accepted by the test-tube-types whose reality is limited to “seeing is believing”. Therefore this article, mocking the belief in the soul, and promoting a “scientific” approach to man’s existence is typical of the unbelievers… To them we are  just animate consumers that would eventually be “produced” on an assembly line like cars and other consumer goods.

The world does not need this Godless philosophy that promotes soulless zombies living lives of emptiness and consumerism.

— Cyril Bryan

****** Your comments for or against this article are welcome *******

May 20, 2008

UNIVERSITY OF GUYANA

Posted in Education, Guyana, Science & Technology, Thoughts tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:49 am by randallbutisingh

UNIVERSITY OF GUYANA – Inaugural Dissertation -1963

The following is an excerpt from the Inaugural Dissertation entitled “A University in a Changing Society”, given by Prof. Lancelot Hogben, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Guyana, on the occasion of its opening on October 1, 1963.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

As members of this species of so many inter-fertile somatic varieties with such common potentialities for good and evil we face the enticing possibility of a future well-being inconceivable to our grandfathers. The alternative is a doom no generation of the human species could hitherto and rightly have regarded as thinkable. We can choose the benefits to which scientific discovery invites us to share with the prospect of a hitherto inconceivably abundant life for all. Alternatively, we can choose a common coffin of nuclear annihilation for men and women of every creed, country and colour. We have now to learn to live together unless we choose to die together. Accordingly, our civic responsibilities have assumed global dimensions.

If peoples of different territorial ancestry cannot live at peace here in British Guiana, how gloomy is the prospect of mankind! For this reason my colleagues are of one mind. A contemporary curriculum of civic studies anywhere, but especially in our own multi-racial community, should make its students aware of what successive peoples of different stocks and skin pigmentation have contributed to the world wide community of what we thanklessly call western Science. It must also make all students aware of what circumstances have impeded the cultural progress of communities which are now as backward as my own forebears in the era referred to as the “Glory that was Greece”.

Because we are, though small, a multi-racial community, it may be that w can make a unique contribution to civic education in what we may hope to be the Age of Plenty only if peoples of different colour, creed, and country coexist peacefully. One of my favourite English poets, William Blake, expressed it thus:

In my exchanges every land

Shall walk, and men of every land

Mutual shall build Jerusalem

Both heart in heart and hand in hand

In this small society let us therefore take courage from the circumstances that the tradition of our world wide culture of so-called western science has preserved its continuity by the perennial rebirth which signalizes the emergence of the novel impact of a hitherto less sophisticated culture in a hitherto less unlikely setting. In this assurance let us hopefully go forward to adapt what is worthy from the past to local needs, which may contribute new benefits to the future”.

Prof. Lancelot Hogben, Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of Guyana, October 1, 1963.

May 15, 2008

TEACHING – NO LONGER A VOCATION

Posted in Economics, Education, Guyana, Science & Technology tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:09 am by randallbutisingh

TEACHING – NO LONGER A VOCATION

By Randall Butisingh

This article was written in 1971, a few months before I retired.

I was very dissatisfied with what was taking place in school; where political expediency ousted teaching ethics resulting in a breakdown of discipline, insubordination and the degradation of Education in the schools of Guyana.

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Teaching had always been regarded as a vocation, and it was expected that the men and women who entered its ranks did so because of that sense.

The earliest teachers were volunteers who gave their spare time to educate the young ones of their time. Robert Raikes, an Englishman was one of the first of this kind. His pupils were the scum of the English slum – the stray boys as they were called – and his first task was to teach them Religion, and later Reading and Writing.

From that humble beginning sprang the Church Schools which gave formal lessons in the Three R’s and also taught them Religion… Teachers were remunerated but the pay was so small that only the dedicated offered their services. To these it was an opportunity for service to their fellow men.

Even in this country, in the nineteenth century, teaching attracted to a great extent, the dedicated and conscientious worker. Teachers never used to grudge giving services during unofficial hours; to them, it fitted with the sense of vocation.

Vocation knows no holiday and working in an occupation in which one is dedicated is a holiday in itself. The good teacher enjoys this perpetual holiday and is bored and unhappy when he is away from his charge.

For the past half century and more, much has been done to mar the spirit of devotion, though it is not entirely eradicated. The payment by results system, in Dual Control, when government came in and paid the bills, has been one of the ugliest blots in the administrative system. If teachers gave extra service, they gave it through compulsion; they struggled hard to survive, and in the struggle, some resorted to unethical means. The smartest and not always the most conscientious survived.

This state of affairs, where results mattered most, proved a bane to real progress because, if volition which is consistent with the spirit of dedication is removed, then vocation becomes a misnomer, and true education, that what is worth knowing and becoming suffers.

At present the payment by results system does not obtain, but teaching in the context of Guyana, has been made attractive in the form of more pay for teachers, opportunity of training for all – formerly only the few academically best were selected for training – protection of a trade union which can resort to the strike weapon and go-slow tactics, and numerous holidays.. These have attracted into the profession many who have no love for teaching, self-seekers, opportunists, who can never inspire or motivate their pupils.

Some of these square pegs however, are intrinsically good, with a potential for other type of occupations, but unfortunately, the system offers them no scope for their development, neither has it been able to discover their hidden talents. So the potential technician, craftsman, farmer, fisherman and others find teaching a field for financial exploitation, and also a stepping stone to more lucrative employment… With the promise of free education for all, what will happen to the army of youths of average ability who will pass five or more subjects at the G.C.E “O’ level? Surely the teaching profession, the civil service and the industries will not be able to absorb all of them in white collar posts. Many of them will roam the streets and be a burden to state and society.

The type of Education which does not take aptitude into consideration cannot successfully build a young nation that is struggling for economic sufficiency through Cooperatives. Technical skill and brawn are the things most needed… Without them our Education would be unproductive, it would produce unproductive teachers who would perpetuate un-productivity.

A manual- based Education is the best thing for our schools. Pupils should be made to use their hands right from the beginning and produce. This productivity should continue all through the school… No school should be without a Garden, a Handicraft and a Domestic Department. Here is where the children would learn that there is dignity in labour and would enjoy the fruits of labour. Every School, if properly organized will be able to pay some of its expenses. If this is done, when the pupils leave school, they will be able to wrest a living from the Agricultural lands, Forests, Water and other resources of the country.

Again proper incentives should be given to the manual-type worker if this type of occupation is to be stressed. The scavenger who does the dirtiest work but very essential job should be better paid than the clerk; the farmer should be rewarded with bonuses and national honours and compensated when his crops get destroyed by floods or pests.

The indispensable service of the farmer should be properly recognized as his profession is a noble one and people owe him their sustenance. Also a National Farmers’ Day should be held every year when public recognition could be paid to them.

Because of the security which teachers enjoy and the unwillingness of many to go the ‘second mile’, they should be made to do by compulsion what their counterparts of the past did voluntarily. What reason is there why teachers should not work more than five hours a day, five days a week and during vacation? This does not mean that they will have to do routine work all the time, but they can surely help the Nation in social work like Adult Education, Youth Club activities and classes for the underprivileged. They can also find some time visiting parents, arranging their own refresher courses, writing text books and learning to use their hands among other things.

The holidays given throughout the year should not mean exemption from duty for teachers. They should be considered on duty and be available for utilization in the National cause, especially as they are paid for these periods.

At present, apart from the three months’ holidays teachers get every year, a month’s leave every three years, many hours are lost to teaching in this country by teachers who take leave for illnesses real, or imaginary, and for selfish reasons.

Is there any wonder, taking all these things into consideration that Teaching has ceased to be a Vocation for many?

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Update: All the recommendations concerning Farming that I have made in this article were later implemented by the People’s National Congress (P.N.C.) Government administration.(1964-1992)

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