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[Susan notes: The author is a psychiatrist living in Philadelphia.


Submitted to The New York Times but not published

Keep Kids In Touch With Real World

If we want "Good Students and Good
Citizens" (Op-Ed Sept. 15) I'd suggest
that we keep 'em in touch with the real
world by eliminating, before age 14, all
homework, testing, and most of their
textbooks, while STIMULATING them
with INTERESTING material like the
daily newspaper, good books, useful
magazines, art, music, exercise,
community service, working adults,
and older kids who can HELP them
along -- after parents and teachers
have read aloud, set up reading-in-unison,
shown them how to print, promoted
mathematical games, have given scientific
demonstrations, and have pushed a few
buttons, maybe.

But the current Teach'em-Test'em model
will usually produce high anxiety, inhibition,
on-site resistance, widespread failure, low
self-esteem, kids who hate books, pathetic
basic skills, a curriculum happily forgotten
after the final exam, and those 57 percent
of high-school seniors who, until the movie
came along, believed that Pearl Harbor was
an Afro-American torch singer.

Robert E. Kay, M.D.

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