Education Opinion


March 01, 2001 5 min read
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Apple Polishing

As a longtime Mac user and teacher, I couldn’t help but chuckle at “Big Mac Attack” [February]. Technology is a tool, not an end in itself. As a writer and a teacher of writing, I have found Macs to be the “Craftsman” in the line of tools available to me. As a college teacher in education today, I work in my office on a PC, but I go home to my iMac. Macintosh computers are fun to use- and that’s important. Teachers and students lead busy, stressful lives, and when work can become playlike, it’s easier to maintain one’s perspective. Am I one of the “Mac evangelists”? Maybe. I hope Macs will be around for years to come.

Merrill Watrous
Lane Community College
Eugene, Oregon

The Mac vs. PC issue is not a conflict between enthusiastic, idiosyncratic Mac fanatics and down-to-earth, businesslike Windows users. It’s actually a conflict between excellent design and de facto market domination.

I’ve used computers for over 20 years, and I was introduced to Macs only in the last few years. I’m a DOS jockey and a Windows expert, and Windows is my standard at home. Yet I furtively manage to keep a pod of Macs in my science classroom, and last year, I bought an iMac to supplement it, even though my school decided to use a Windows standard a few years ago. Why? Macs are a dream to set up and easy to fix, and you really can just “plug and play,” from adding peripherals to setting up networks. Recently, for instance, we brought in a new printer for the school network; the Macs “saw” it and needed no special software or configuration to print to it. I laughed at the statement, “maintaining both PC and Macintosh networks is impossible.” No, it’s not. All you really have to maintain is the PC network. A Mac network maintains itself.

Delia Turner
Lower School Science
Haverford School
Haverford, Pennsylvania

Ritalin Risks

As a lad who floundered through school despite fairly high intelligence-test results and whose dad and brothers are a motley crew of Huck Finns, I appreciated “Ritalin Or The Raft?” [January]. For several years I’ve asked my students whether Huck would have embarked on his adventures, let alone defied an evil social system to help Jim escape, had he been treated for his behavior disorders. The question raises the eyebrows of the Hucks—medicated or otherwise—in the class who know that educators and doctors are barely beginning to scratch the surface on the subject of “problem behaviors.”

Many kids do benefit from Ritalin, but only because they have to fit into a crazy system that denies who they are. Ritalin can be helpful, but we need to remember that a thin line separates us from the Soviet-era psychiatrists who treated behavior disorders, such as a longing for freedom, with powerful drugs.

Stefan Ulstein
English Chairperson
Bellevue Christian High School
Bellevue, Washington

I am concerned about the superficiality of “Ritalin Or The Raft,” which appears to be another salvo from the anti-psychoactive-drug contingent. While I certainly agree that there has been rampant misdiagnosis of ADHD, this has probably resulted in as much underdiagnosis as overdiagnosis.

What we need is more objectivity and attention to individuals, rather than politics and ideology, in the practices of medicine and education. The media also need to be more alert to manipulation by those seeking to publicize the latest fads and scares.

Jonathan Schiff
St. Bernard, Ohio

Divine Intervention

Chief Justice Rehnquist’s dissent is correct in stating that the majority opinion “bristles with hostility” in the Santa Fe, Texas, school-sponsored prayer case [“Clippings,” January]. It is difficult for Christian public school teachers who pray for the well-being of troubled students, ask for God’s guidance in desperate times, and then feel the hand of God touch the classroom, but who cannot enlighten the students to his presence. Are we to teach morality and sportsmanship without ever mentioning his name? Teachers cannot sell politically correct jargon to students without either religious insight from the teacher or student comprehension of God’s divine involvement in their personal lives.

Roark Pargeon
Beulah, Michigan

Who’s Responsible?

I disagree with Melva Fragale’s letter, “Just Say No” [January], which holds teacher Sherry Hearn accountable for her son’s behavior: We should not criticize others until we have walked a mile in their moccasins. I grew up in a family of three children. The first two have normal lives, while the third is an alcoholic and has been constantly in trouble with the law. We all have the same parents, so I doubt they can be blamed, as Fragale does Hearn. In our family’s case, the youngest was a victim of a neighborhood molester, and my parents did not know until the damage was done. As parents, we cannot always be held responsible for every bad thing that our children do.

Vivian Euzent
Sunnyvale, California

Safety First

Bill Wetzel (“Portrait Of The Reformer As A Young Man,” October 2000) had his pick of colleges. He participated in a gifted-and-talented program for eight years. A former teacher stated that his expository pieces showed “brilliance.” He’s labeled a “reformer.”

So how come the reformer can’t seem to use the common sense necessary to follow essential school safety guidelines?

Ignoring a sign that asks, “Visitors please sign in,” he smiles and jokes about being “illiterate.” I wonder how Wetzel would feel about an intruder ignoring society’s laws and entering his family’s home in the middle of the night? Bill may be brilliant, but he lacks the sense to realize that, though some school guidelines are steeped in the we’ve-done-it-this-way-for-years mentality, other rules are designed with student safety in mind. Rich Shea, if I’m not mistaken, entered the school with Wetzel. He may be a great writer, but is he going to plead “illiteracy,” as well?

Randy Cunningham
Mineola, Texas

Teacher Magazine welcomes the opinions and comments of its readers. Letters should be 300 words or fewer and may be edited for clarity and length. All letters and submissions should include an address and phone number. Mail them to Teacher Magazine, 6935 Arlington Road, Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814. Letters also may be sent to tmletter@epe.org.

A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2001 edition of Teacher as Letters


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