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[Susan notes: The letter points out that schools have become places where nobody wants to be--including teachers.]

Submitted to Philadelphia Inquirer but not published
09/19/2003

To the editor



The best way, in my opinion, to "Treat teachers

better" (Letters, Sept. 20) would be to turn schools into EDUCATIONAL institutions.



Schools are mandated, coercive, highly-controlling, judgmental, and/or well-meaning places where bored, passive, scared and obedient drones go through the motions of learning and promptly forget virtually all subject matter just as soon as summer rolls around.



Other results: - one-third of high school seniors

are competent readers, 17 percent do arithmetic well; curiosity, creativity, sociability, motivation, self-esteem, and the ability to ask insightful questions have dropped precipitously. Few can think clearly even after earning fancy degrees.



An education, on the other hand, happens in poorly-paid small places where comfortable teachers HELP kids keep on learning with the enthusiasm and effectiveness of almost all preschool children.



And where they've listened to a former Supt. of the School District of Philadelphia who has been known to say -- off-the record -- that "The formal assessment of elementary-school children is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of."



Robert E. Kay, MD


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