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To the Editor:

Regarding Louis J. Perelman's "parable" ("The Parable of 'Scubation,'" Commentary, Sept. 14, 1994), I've had it up to here with the enthusiasts who argue for technology in education primarily by satirizing others. This is hardly a Swiftean moment in our culture (although it's interesting to imagine what side Swift's own parodic parable would take).

The exhortations I've heard, nationally and on our own campus, run either to completely generalized slogans or appeals to fear (not being left out or behind, get with the program, etc.). They can usually be reduced to the non-educational and non-logical statement: "Agree with me; don't be dumb."

Not the way to get my attention.

Robert King
Professor of English/Education
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, N.D.

To the Editor:

I read Lewis J. Perelman's parable with interest. It seems to be a breathless revision of the ancient Chinese parable, "The Skylark and the Frogs." It works well with social reformation, but it was for Chuang-Tze a religious message--one that bottom dwellers just don't get.

Joseph O. Milner
Department of Education
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, N.C.

Real Learning Takes Place In Rich Context of Real Life

To the Editor:

I read George E. Archer's "Hooked on Nature: A Science Strategy That Works" (Commentary, Sept. 7, 1994) with mild amusement. While outdoors with his 6th-grade science class, his students asked him some questions about clouds and made some observations about the weather.

Mr. Archer then admitted that he had "never heard 6th graders so fired up about something that was, essentially, natural science." Is this man serious? Children, I have found, are naturally curious about their environments. Is this an indication that Mr. Archer has had very few conversations with children outside of formal settings?

It is mind-boggling to me that a teacher is so bowled over by the innate curiosity of children he is supposed to know. This is one of the reasons that we choose not to send our children to school. In our "home-school, outdoor, wherever-we-happen-to-be environment," my children are constantly making uncoerced observations about life, ethics, science, ecosystems, philosophy, psychology--and sometimes all in one sentence.

If teachers actually knew the children they "serve" outside the confines of the institution, they would find that, indeed, they are in the midst of great minds that seek very high levels of understanding. Institutional learning is dead, I'm sorry to tell you. It suffers from peripheral vision when it comes to truly looking at the lives of children.

Home-schoolers across the nation are discovering real learning takes place in the rich context of real life, not in artificial environments with certified experts.

Barbara Alward
Atascadero, Calif.

Vol. 14, Issue 05

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