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More homework? How about more time to be a child?

October 15, 2005|By Dianne Glaze

To the editor:

I am responding to Dr. Becker's letter to the editor encouraging teachers to give more homework to school children. It's fine to say that teachers should give homework to students. However, one might look at the reasons why they don't.

I have a wide circle of friends who are public school teachers. I have heard from some of them that they are extremely discouraged.

Some are even at the point of finding another profession. They have to "teach to test," rather than teaching for the love of children and the love of teaching. Test results are what is important to the Board of Education because better test results mean more federal dollars. That makes for a rather unmotivated teacher.

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I have been told that teachers can not refer to parents as parents any more, except to the parent's face. They have to refer to them as "stakeholders." What does that make the children? Here are some definitions of a "stake" from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary: "a : something that is staked for gain or loss (as in gambling) b : the prize in a contest c : an interest or share in an undertaking (as a commercial venture)". Is that how the Board of Education sees our children - something to be gambled away, prizes, numbers? It may be how some people look at children, but that's not how God, teachers or parents see them. Yes, children are assets, extremely valuable assets - not because they mean more dollars for the school system, but because they are our future.

Of course, children are under pressure to perform in school (because it means more dollars). Elementary school children can no longer color in school, except in their one-hour-a-week art class! What happened to creative expression and an outlet just to be a kid? Children are forced to grow up so quickly in our society that they have lost much of their innocence by the time they leave elementary school. They need time to just be kids, or pressure will build.

What happens then? They have thoughts of suicide, cutting themselves, anorexia, bulimia. A few days ago, a friend of mine who teaches in elementary school had to counsel a child (in elementary school!) who was thinking of committing suicide. Their lives at home can be horrendous, and then they come to school and learn irrelevant things to take a test for good results for more dollars. Teachers and students need encouragement. They need to know that we think what they are doing is important because it is extremely important. They also need to have Christians praying for them. Words of kindness, thank-you notes and praying for teachers and students will go a long way in encouraging them.

If you are a member of the Board of Education or you know someone who is, please, please try to change the board's focus from test results to the teachers and children who are represented by those results.

I know that the government needs to know that our children are being taught. And they want to know that "no child is left behind." Maybe the board's approach could be different. Maybe several hours a week could be devoted solely to teaching for test results - like the SAT prep classes we used to have. Then allow the teachers freedom within a relevant curriculum (reading, writing and 'rithmetic, with a good history course) to teach what they know students need.

In elementary school, they need a good foundation of the aforementioned basics and time to be a kid. In middle and high school, they need to add to their knowledge of the basics, plus have life enrichment courses, such as computer skills, foreign languages and life skill courses.

Allowing teachers the freedom to teach in that way might give them the motivation they need to make sure the children are learning what they need to keep up with foreign students technologically and educationally, which was Dr. Becker's concern. Our children's education is something that should concern all of us.

Dianne Glaze
Hagerstown

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