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[Susan notes: Education policy makers could learn something from the movie Cold Mountain.]

Published in Daily Triplicate

To the editor

I just saw the newly released film, Cold Mountain. In one scene, Ada and Ruby, two women struggling to survive during the Civil War, are building a fence. Ruby is asking Ada questions related to local geography and farming. Ada replies that she can talk about farming in Latin and she can read French. She can name the principle rivers in Europe but not one stream in her own county. She can arrange cut flowers but she can't grow them. Her formal education has not taught her any functional, practical skills.


This applies to today's educational programs, too. While book-learning is valuable, so is doing. While one might be able to read or write a poem about a fence or draw a fence, can one build a fence? President Bush's No Child Left Behind policy makes unfair demands on teachers and students because they are being held accountable for college-prep academics at the expense of vocational skills. The battle cry for all students to pass algebra and go to college has resulted in the slow death of vocational education. Not all students have the ability or desire to write a research paper or a how-to-manual about a fence, but some would be very good at building one.

Just as Ada and Ruby's skills complement each other, so do book-learning and doing. We need both knowledge and skills in our educational programs and our daily lives.

Kay Jones

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