To the Editor:
I read “Talk of U.S. Crisis in Math, Science Is Largely Misplaced, Skeptics Say” (March 22, 2006) hoping to find something different from recent articles on the need to boost U.S. math and science education. But instead I found merely a critique of one way of defending math and science education, and an endorsement of another.
I therefore feel compelled as an educator, not a businessman or politician, to point out the following:
• Math and science are important, but so are other areas of life represented by school disciplines such as the arts and humanities, physical education, and social education.
• As a foreigner living in New York City, a careful observer of civic and public life, and a professor of education who visits many government schools, I sense a lack of humanity in this society that is at least as troubling as any technical deficiencies in math and science.
• Third graders, and perhaps 10th graders as well, deserve schools and classrooms that are more than training grounds for industry.
• The great imperatives in education, understood by most educators but not by most of society’s power brokers, are excellent thinking and a grasp of meaning. We want young people to emerge from schools as skilled thinkers who can make sense of the world in which they live, so that they, in turn, can work to make the world better.
Provide the best education possible and let young people take their time working out how they can live meaningful, worthwhile lives. Yes, it costs lots and lots of money, and therein lies the rub.
Professor of Education
City University of New York
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the April 05, 2006 edition of Education Week as Deficiencies Go Beyond Math and Science Skills