To the Editor:
I commend Mildred Alpern for helping her granddaughter Zoe with a tough history assignment (“Zoe’s Poster,” Commentary, Jan. 11, 2006). How lucky Zoe is to have Ms. Alpern as a grandmother.
The essay raises a serious question: Was the assignment suitable? It also fairly shouts that Ms. Alpern needed to be in touch with Zoe’s teacher early in the process. An empathetic teacher would have had discussions with all of her students to explain that perhaps there were serious barriers to success in this project, and to give advice as to how the assignment should be approached.
It is very unlikely that other students had caring, loving assistance offered by a former history teacher, as Zoe did. Some parents would not have had a clue about where to start, how to proceed, or how to organize the project.
This brings me to a daring suggestion: Would Ms. Alpern feel comfortable in talking with Zoe’s teacher and offering to assist with future history projects? I hope so. She could set an example for other students’ relatives to come forward with their areas of expertise and become a very real research support network for the students, and perhaps the teacher who gave the assignment.
I know, from her wonderful Commentary, that Ms. Alpern would be a resounding success.
Alice R. McCarthy
Bridge Communications Inc.
A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2006 edition of Education Week as Could Zoe’s Grandmother Help Other Students, Too?