Education Opinion


September 01, 1990 5 min read

Ancestors And Anger

As a descendent of slaveholders, I would like to tell Joseph A. Hawkins’s children that I am uncomfortable about discussions of slavery, just as they say I should be [“The Cries Of My Ancestors,” June/July]. But focusing black children’s attention on the “miseries their ancestors suffered” because of racist Europeans surely carries great risk for both blacks and whites in this country. Does Hawkins really want the anger he experienced when visiting slave castles in Africa to become more pervasive among young blacks? It is a simple step from anger at slaveholders to anger at their descendants.

So, Mr. Hawkins, if you insist on telling your children about the slavery of their ancestors, be sure that you also tell them that I bear no responsibility for the behavior of my ancestors, and I should not be held accountable for it just because I am white. Less anger directed toward me will help both of us, and our children, to work more diligently on constructing the cooperative world we all so desperately need.

Felix A. Gaudin
DeLaSalle High School
New Orleans

A Strong Voice

I loved the excerpt from the new book by Samuel G. Freedman [“The Veteran and The Beginner,” April]. While I was disappointed at first to read that the subject of the book, Jessica Siegel, had left teaching, I know she will be a strong voice to the world for us as a freelance writer. I also appreciate the positive voice of your magazine.

Pat Carmichael
Lassen View School
Los Molinos, Calif.

Malapropisms Can Hurt

I am very uncomfortable with the idea of using student malapropisms on your humor page [“Class Dismissed,” June/July]. Although we may think that they’re funny, I wonder what kind of message they send to our students. Think about all of the work teachers have been doing across the country to get their students to feel confident enough to take risks in writing. If I were a student, I’d be mortified that my teacher thought my mistake was cute enough to send to a national publication. I’d feel that my trust had been violated, and I might be afraid to take risks again.

I have worked for six years in writing classrooms and have spent the past year as a teaching assistant in freshman writing classes at Georgetown University, and I know that a large part of teaching is built on the mutual respect that grows between teacher and student. I urge you to omit the section on student malapropisms and replace it with something that celebrates the good work students and teachers are doing in the classroom. There is nothing wrong with humorous anecdotes as long as they don’t make fun of a student’s very real struggle to learn.

Joanna Howard
Gaithersburg, Md.

More On The Handicapped

I am currently a senior majoring in special education. In your April issue, I was pleased to see that you addressed topics such as the education system, licensing, interviewing, etc. I found this information to be very beneficial. I also found it refreshing to see that you addressed educators as people with lives and problems outside of the classroom.

However, I did find that you appeared to ignore, both in the text and in the photos, one important population in our society—the handicapped population. I would recommend that you include more material on the handicapped in future issues.

Nanette M. Benson
St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud, Minn.

No Dictators, But...

Congratulations for sharing much-needed, practical information in your special April issue for new teachers. However, I must challenge one recommendation made in your article on job interviews [“Thirty Minutes To Sell Yourself,” April]. In advising teachers how to answer a question on maintaining discipline, you say, “Dictators need not apply” and encourage teachers to work together with the students to set rules.

In many of today’s classrooms, students need firm, clear directions. Many have limited knowledge about or experience with good behavior and self-control. Many do not know how or when to discuss discipline with the teacher. Daily, I hear from administrators and master teachers who want to know if the student teacher can control the classroom and if the new teacher has a discipline plan.

The new teacher, like the experienced one, must direct the learning process with a firm and fair hand.

Paul W. Johnson
Supervisor, Teacher Education
Fresno Pacific College
Fresno, Calif.

Missing The Mark?

Your usually fine, professional magazine missed the mark in your recent article concerning homosexuality in the public schools [“Reach Them And Teach Them,” May]. Although you say elsewhere in the same issue that you take no editorial positions, the article clearly supported programs and lifestyles not in the best interests of our children. Like Rep. William Dannemeyer, I do not feel homosexuals are born as such, but are victims of our society. As educators we should support the child, but not the homosexual lifestyle. Please stick to articles of a more educational format.

Laura Anderson
White Knoll Elementary School
West Columbia, S.C.

High Hopes Dashed

I took a subscription to your magazine with high hopes. It didn’t take long for them to be dashed! I had hoped for an upbeat magazine with “how to” articles and professional, quality features. Instead, what I’ve received is a very biased and liberal viewpoint. Your article on homosexual teachers was an insult to our profession. It is against the law in Texas and in the armed forces. You present it as an acceptable “alternative.”

Your article on Assertive Discipline was biased against Lee Canter. I’ve used this system in private and public schools. It works.

Finally, your glorification of Linda Harrison in the June/July issue is too much! You imply everyone should file complaints against their schools—or sue in the courts. The only winners are lawyers. We don’t need more of this. We need a magazine to uplift our profession.

Terry L. Flory
Iredell, Texas

Good Ol’ Boys

I take issue with Linda Harrison [“Fighting The Power,” June/July] concerning former coaches serving as administrators. Instead of crying foul, Harrison should have taken a closer look at the reasons for coaches’ moving into administrative positions.

At a time when it is hard to find teachers to work on extracurricular activities, coaches put in countless hours. Coaches usually excel in discipline, which is listed by teachers and parents as the number-one concern in schools today. Organization and delegation of power are also attributes, needed by administrators, that coaches have to offer. Add to these extensive dealings with parents, plus experience in fund-raising and public relations, and it is obvious that coaches have a great deal to offer as administrators.

Linda Harrison is correct in saying that a lot of coaches move into administrative positions. She just never went the next step to find out why.

Robert Johnson
South Webster High School
South Webster, Ohio

A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 1990 edition of Teacher as Letters