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Letters to the Editor

November 18, 1997

Proper behavior must be taught

To the editor:

I'd like to comment on those recent letters concerning children in fine dining facilities. I agree with Mr. Cabbilaro's comments and consider Linda Coffman's letter a sign of the times. When I go out to dine I certainly do not want my evening spoiled by a child creating an uproar.

Unless the child can behave in a rational manner, he/she should not be brought to a restaurant. If a child is disruptive in a restaurant, the parents should leave with their child. Coffman refers to children's rights and protection.

What about the rights of the other people in the restaurant? With rights come accountability. The child, properly taught by his/her parents must act in a responsible manner.

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Granted that children are not the property of adults for the purpose of "controlling." But the parents have a responsibility to discipline unruly children. No, they are not "miniature adults," but even a child can be taught to behave properly.

The key is to start children at an early age, in a casual restaurant where the food is usually served promptly. Crayons and coloring books, or even a favorite quiet toy, should be taken along. The parents should not expect to have a relaxing time. Their job at this time is to ease their child into the restaurant scene.

By the time the child is say, 4 or 5 years old, the whole family will be able to go to a fine dining establishment without disturbing other patrons. I have six grandchildren, four ranging in age from 8 to 19. They enjoy dressing appropriately, the atmosphere of the restaurant and selecting their food (like miniature adults). The other two grandchildren are learning how to behave in fast-food places.

Coffman suggests that courses on child growth and development should be required in high school and that it takes a village to raise a child. I must ask: What are the responsibilities of the parents? Courses in school to teach teens how to be parents. Ridiculous. It is the parents' responsibility to do that job. To make the village responsible is typical of many of today's Americans - blame someone else and don't take responsibility. I live in the village, but it is not my responsibility to raise someone else's child. My only responsibility is to live properly and cause no harm to a child.

Arthur L. Cronk

Waynesboro, Pa.

Don't teach to the test

To the editor:

As the parent of three former Washington County public school students, the youngest of whom graduated this year, I've observed that students spend a disproportionate amount of classroom time in how-to sessions "learning" the "answers" to state and national standardized tests.

This approach, sometimes called "teaching to the test" misses the point of education entirely. Instead of absorbing and integrating information for the purpose of personal and societal enrichment, students learn instead to play the system. Consequently, all these tests really tell us is which schools are more aggressively teaching to a particular test. (It's my understanding that more and more colleges are doing away with SAT criteria for admission because scores more accurately reflect test-taking ability rather than actual knowledge.)

And now, much to my dismay, Maryland parents are being volunteered to join this questionable bandwagon. According to your Oct. 29 front page story, our state school system is providing posters to help us "help (our) children practice for the annual test." We can even obtain "sample tests" by calling an 800 number.

Most of us want schools to teach our children to read and write well, to appreciate a basic knowledge of the arts and humanities, to understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and to learn enough math and economics to be able to balance a checkbook at the very least. Sadly, I've encountered college students who cannot figure the price of produce when the digital scale isn't working.

I'm all for higher-order and critical thinking skills. So much so that I consider it part of my responsibility as a parent to foster these capabilities in my children on an on-going basis, not just at testing time. But, before we attempt to measure Johnny's ability to calculate "the mean height of each rebound" we'd better be pretty darn sure Johnny can read, write, add and know who his congressman is.

Sharon Broyles

Hagerstown

Not a bust

To the editor:

I want to thank-you, for printing my article about the pow wow at HJC. But, I did not like your title "Pow wow is a bust." It was not a bust, there were many fine Native-Americans there.

I think you could have worded the title much better without hurting many Native Americans feelings. I would appreciate it if you were to reprint it using a more appopriate title.

Thomas B. Kinzer

Hagerstown

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