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[Susan notes: ]

Submitted to Philadelphia Inquirer but not published
10/11/2002

To the editor

To the Editor of the Inquirer:

While "Pols apart on Pa. schools" (OP-Ed, Oct. 11), no one is dealing with the fact that, despite the best efforts of dedicated teachers, the schools are, from the point of view of growth and learning, the most inefficient organizations yet devised by the mind of man (Horace that is).

Toddlers teach themselves, despite TV, both
a zillion things plus an enormously complicated language -- with dispatch, enthusiasm, and efficiency.

After that, one-third of high school seniors
are competent readers while virtually all subject
matter, from kindergarten through college, is
happily forgotten just as soon as summer rolls
around -- or the final examination has been
safely hurdled.

Vast numbers have become scared, bored,
confused, inhibited, inefficient, and irritable.

50 percent of public school students in Phildelphia drop out, feeling that they've already failed well before their brains are fully developed and even before their lives have hardly begun.

Most kids, in both public and private schools,
come to avoid reading and resist learning. Less
than one-in-ten adults buys a book in any given
year. We are 19th out of the top twenty indus-
trialized nations in newspaper consumption.
94 percent are unable to name their Congress-
man, and, until the movie came out, 57 percent
of high-school seniors thought that Pearl Harbor
was an Afro-American torch singer.

And for this we're paying well over $500
billion per year!

But, despite a loss of drive and confidence,
many sort of play the game and get pretty
pieces of paper whereas what one really needs
in the real world are our basic inborn thinking,
learning, communicating, and cooperating skills.

All of which suggests that the first order of
business is to just STOP doing what we're
now doing, and then start EDUCATING by
stimulating, demonstrating, revealing, and
motivating using, among many other possibilities,
reading aloud to them, doing reading-in-unison,
conversing, playing number games, working
hands-on stuff, perusing newspapers, magazines,
encyclopedias, and good books while having older
kids help the younger and while abolishing text-
books, ditto sheets, quizzing, homework, report
cards, a structured curriculum, and computers
before age twelve -- and testing before age 16.

Because we couldn't possibly do worse than
we're doing now.

Or, as George Bernard Shaw once remarked -
"The only time my education was interrupted was
when I was in school."

Yrs,

Robert E. Kay, MD
Adult and Child Psychiatrist
Philadelphia, PA

Ref:
"What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our
Children Struggling in Kindergarten?" by
Susan Ohanian
'What Do I Do Monday?" by John Holt
"Every Student Can Succeed" by Wm. Glasser

Robert E. Kay, MD


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