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[Susan notes: This is such a good letter: local anecdote that reveals a whole philosophy and pedagogy.]

Published in New York Times
05/31/2006

To the editor




Re "War of the Worlds," by Charles Passy (Op-Ed, May 26):



I agree with Mr. Passy that the National Geographic

Geography Bee beats a spelling bee any day and that we

need more global learning.



But the Geography Bee is not the way to do it. As a

former teacher who administered the bee for four

years, I would vote to abolish it completely.



First, the learning Mr. Passy highlights should be

part of real history curriculums, not outside

preparation for a one-day event. Second, recognizing

Kola Peninsula in Russia actually says nothing about a

student's ability to recognize Stalinism or the Soviet

invasion of Afghanistan.



Finally, and most important, all this ultracompetitive

bee did for my students fourth and fifth graders

was make one kid happy and the rest either indifferent

or on the verge of tears.



My hope is not for more bees, but rather that this

experience doesn't make these kids unlike Mr.

Passy's son choose to not read the international

section of the newspaper.



Rob Goldberg


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