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Letter: Admiration and respect for Grenadian students
Published on February 1, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

With every passing day, the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique are increasingly gratified and motivated by the process our students attending colleges in the USA are making towards a full realization of their vision, which is to do well in college, excel in their studies, win scholarships and to become, the best they can be international students of excellence, seeking a degree in multi-lingual learning environments.

Grenadian students in the United States have made remarkable progress over the years. They are driven by renowned commitment to rigorous career that would lead to meaningful employment and successful pursuit of higher level studies. Our students are profiting from new and innovative approaches to learning we are proud of them, we admire them and we respect their potentials.

There is a sense that Grenadian international students are now moving forward with a renewed sense of pride and purpose. Thanks to our ambassador-at-large, Rabbi Michael Melnicke who is providing opportunities for Grenadian students to attain international scholarships in the USA and for stimulation of interests in continuing academic excellence, enhance academic progress and jump start their future.

Grenada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Dennis Antoine also believes that teachers and professors both are committed to students and their learning. He believes that accomplished administrators are dedicated to making knowledge accessible to all students, they also understand how students develop and learn.

“They are models of education, persons exemplifying the virtues they seek to inspire in their students. Curiosity, tolerance, honesty, fairness, respect for diversity and appreciation of cultural differences, and the capacities that are prerequisites for intellectual growth, the ability to reason and take multiple perspectives, to be creative and take risks, and to adopt an experimental and problem-solving orientation.”

Let’s make our voices heard and transform education, psychology, history, science, health, art throughout the world, let us all come together to shape the future of teaching and learning. What our government must do is study and look to replicate some extremely successful programs that have proven that good grades are not beyond poor and minority kids from tough backgrounds.

We need curricula that do not compromise setting high expectation for our kids and ensuring they have the tools to meet them. This is not about appearances or demeanor. It’s about learning from real things, from facts. We have to always strain to see the honest truth, not be sidetracked by what we think we’re supposed to see. Whatever its shortcomings, imagined or real, it is a serious attempt to reverse extremely negative, if not fateful, trends in our system of education.

Home truths, while both embarrassing and painful, are cathartic. The USA, chronically and compulsively, spends more on education than any nation on this planet, yet ranks in the bottom quartile of nations (26 of 34) per the most recent OECD developed country national rankings, derived from the program for international student assessment data.

The top ranking entities in language, mathematics and science, reside along the Pacific Rim; led by Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Macau. The reasons for this should be obvious even to the politically obtuse, among them, their emphasis on results oriented rather than faddish education, largely intact family structures, a strong sense of intellectual curiosity plus self discipline and their innate ability to reason abstractly.

The attitudes and behaviors are the bedrock for their success and have absolutely nothing to do with spending money, the relentless hue and cry of the usual suspects in our educrat/political nexus. Unless we face reality and change, the long term outlook is very ominous for Grenada. For our students, it dramatically lessens their prospects for obtaining the highly technological jobs of the future in our multicultural world.

For our country, it seriously erodes our competitive advantage versus our major trading partners. We are fortunate and indeed blessed in this. However, one result is that there is much less pressure on our educational system for excellence and much less pressure on our young people to achieve an educational foundation for life that will enable them to live up to their maximum potential. This is indeed a challenge. It will continue to be one.

Our New National Party government should also make sure that all schools within Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique that serve our students have the resources and support they need to hire qualified teachers so their students are not at a disadvantage. Our government must take the lead to make this happen. Mr Prime Minister, for our students, academic and social support is critical.

Teachers in Carriacou schools maintain high expectations of all students, working intensively one-on-one with children until they comprehend every important concept. Our teachers from both Carriacou and Grenada are making science and math education more practical and hands-on. Girls are showing much more engagement in subjects when they learn the connection between what they are studying and real world problems. That may partly explain why so many talented Grenadian female students prefer to go into life sciences, where that link has generally been more apparent.

We need to make Grenada’s education more effective and to make sure that our Grenadian and Caribbean students receive an education that opens up the possibility of meaningful university and college careers afterwards, will be essential if Grenada is to take advantage of all the assistance provided by our Ambassador-At-Large Rabbi Michael Melnicke, and the optimism prevailing by our students in the country, and to use it as a stepping stone to an economy based on skilled labor.

Ambassador Melnicke is hard working and he is doing all within his power to assist the Mitchell government by obtaining International scholarships for our students. He says, “The best and most powerful way for Grenadian students to internalize their dreams to a better and higher education is to interact consistently with someone who lives them. They are the people in the best positions to tell you what actually works when it comes to planning your rise towards your goal.”

The ambassador promised that he will continue to assist the government in obtaining more scholarships for 2015 and he warns that the students must return to Grenada upon completion of their courses where they can work and help build our economy and their lives. What the ambassador does not know is that there are no jobs in Grenada for our young graduates. Mitchell government is not doing enough for our young people.

What people mostly see in our ambassador-at-large is his honesty that appraises his talents. It is written all over his face and manner. He expresses a sincere love for Grenada and its people, and our students like nobody else. He is generous with everyone around him, he is an ambassador who knows how to show respect for his own power and others. There is not one word to describe Ambassador-at-Large Michael Melnicke. A man of superb excellence, dynamic, educated, honest, sincere, helpful, and successful. He associates with everyone, active, friendly, inspiring and inspirational. He is an exceptional and multi-talented man. There is so much to say about him, and not enough time to do so. I have nothing but love, respect and admiration for this brilliant star. No one is more deserving of such an honor as this man with so many superb qualities.

Some administrators are noting a more serious attitude toward study, perhaps attributable to the tightening of the job market. There are numerous complaints made of the difficulties encountered by students attempting to register for some courses.

Don’t just say this is what you want to do. Too often, Grenadian politicians make empty promises; they promise the moon to our youths, especially during election campaign. They speak lies about what they are going to do for our youths, but fail to implement the necessary steps to do so for our students.

Entrenched stereotypes in the USA about who does well in science and math also work against minorities in classrooms. Too many teachers give up easily on them simply because they are not expected to do as well as white students. Despite those challenges, many students still enroll in science and math programs in college and high schools, but fewer of them earn a degree in those programs in five years. 22.1 percent for Hispanics and 18.4 percent for blacks, whites 33 percent and Asians 42 percent) according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Many of those who leave are simply ill-prepared for the rigors of college-level math and science. Others feel socially unwelcome because they make up a tiny minority in largely White and Asian science and engineering departments. They also have far fewer role models to look up to.

Unlike minority children, girls as a whole do about as well as or better than boys as measured by their high school grade point averages in science and math. And, in the last several decades, women have made great gains in fields like biology, chemistry, psychology and sociology; they now earn a majority of undergraduate degrees and a growing proportion of advanced degrees awarded in those fields.

But women have made far fewer gains in physical sciences and more math intensive fields. When making choices about their majors and careers, many young women rule out engineering and computer science partly because they are uninterested, feel ill-prepared for them or because society identifies these domain as male. Women who do earn degrees in these fields leave those professions at much higher rates than men. And the women who graduate with degrees in engineering and computer science are less likely to be employed than men.

In many cases, women seem to have internalized society’s belief that they are incapable of mastering these fields as well as men. Studies have found that female students who are made to believe that math ability is innate have lower scores and are less likely to study math than girls who believe that math skills can be acquired through hard work. Another study showed that female college students got more questions right on math tests when they were told beforehand “that college students are good at math” than when they were told “women are bad at math” which suggest stereotypes undermine women’s performances.

Helen Grenade
Reads: 12783

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The Caribbean Writer 2014

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