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Education goes beyond test scores
March 2, 2018

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To the editor:

I read with despair the Feb. 14 letter to the editor from Adina Lukas of Fort Myers about what's wrong with American education. Clearly she's never been a teacher. The letter certainly doesn't show much understanding for what teachers have to deal with day after day.

I was insulted with the quote that "Chinese attend school 245 days a year. Japanese children attend 240 days." Where is childhood in those countries? I saw a report that said almost 41 percent of primary school children in China now need spectacles. Myopia is running rampant for 90 percent of high school students. When China deals with that and their air pollution, among other issues, I will agree that keeping kids in school longer helped make good adults who work to build a better world.

The basic question is: What do we want for our children? If we're clear about that, than we can look at what might be some ideas for what needs to go on in a really good school.

I want our own grandchildren to be in a school that supports creativity, that has time for art, music and theater. A school where we see diversity. And one that teaches sensitivity, compassion, responsibility, kindness and team work through project teaching - not only the 3 Rs. I want it to be a place where children's lives are cherished.

That means teachers know and do something about self esteem, the dangers of negative criticism and the harm done by bullying. Certainly, we want schools that are not just stuck in cramming for tests.

I was a teacher for 46 years, and taught both in high schools and universities, and was blessed with learning what I know from schools that believed in making life better for children. We taught that the purpose of information is to inform. Not just to pass multiple choice tests. Think about all the lecture classes you sat through. We instead taught in trios and asked: To inform what? The answer we demonstrated is that information is to inform our values. To help us live lives that have value.

Is that something you support, or would you rather have schools teach for high GPA's and entry into Ivy League schools where, for example, 60 percent of graduates from Harvard in 2017 were economics majors and already had jobs on Wall Street? Incidentally, I heard that Google will not let applicants for jobs there put in their GPA scores. Think about why - it's apparent to me.

Deep down, what do you hope to see in your kids who graduate from college? Are their values delightfully apparent? What is their take on the world we now live in? Will they be involved in bringing about changes?

These are tricky problems and worthy of our attention. Your kids spend a lot of time in school. Deep down, how did schools shape who they are? Now, of course, I know what went on in your house shaped them, too. So, what do you want for them to build into their total lives? Will they consider these ideas worth talking about? When?

Sidney B. Simon

Sanibel

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