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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen nicely demolishes the pretentious and wrong-headed notion that students need to start learning to be engineers in kindergarten by having a greater focus on math.]

Submitted to Virginia Pilot but not published

To the editor

Elementary school gets a curriculum makeover (Sept 9) describes a silly solution for a non-existent problem.

The non-existent problem is that "American students have fallen behind" in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Not so. According to the World Economic Forum, the US ranks second in the world (out of 133 countries) in the quality of scientific research institutions, fifth in availability of scientists and engineers, third in the number of patents for inventions (per capita), and sixth in the capacity for technological innovation. Also, there is no shortage of STEM-trained professionals in the US: There is a surplus.

The silly solution is turning a primary school into a junior engineering academy. Tomorrow's problem-solvers don't need more specialized instruction in primary school: They need exposure to a wide variety of experiences so they can develop their interests and abilities. There will be plenty of time for differential equations later.

Stephen Krashen

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