To the Editor:
A. N. Whitehead wrote an essay, “Aims In Education: The Rhythmic Claims of Freedom and Discipline.” In the essay he eloquently summarizes the thousands of years of learning and asserts that, “There can be no mental development without interest.”
A while back I stood behind a group of Brunswick High School students, bemoaning the assignment to read Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage. They stated that it served no interest or value to their education. I, therefore, felt compelled to interject my thoughts as to the book’s relevancy. You read this literature for the descriptive writing and vicarious path to the philosophical conquest of our fears. I furthered said that though he was born after the Civil War, Stephen Crane faced the “great death” and died of tuberculosis at the age of 28. Our lengthy conversation ended with their renewed interest and a unanimous consensus that I should teach this book!
Deemed by most biographers as the greatest orator of the nineteenth century, Frederick Douglas was born a slave with no access to formal education. He wasn’t afforded parental contact only the obsequious, odious, malevolent oversight of slave masters. He did, however, have at one point a mistress who was the catalyst for his interest in learning. He escaped on to write his first autobiography including vocabulary such as obdurate, sagacity, pernicious and many more.
At the last School Board meeting that I attended, the board alluded to learning as being a dollars and cents issue. Student performance failures appear to be from a paucity of parental engagement. I ask, therefore, why are you in the business of education? Why do you want support for public education when you’re not willing to spark an interest in children’s minds or offer meaningful educational development? Actions speak louder than words - food for thought.
Anne T. Williams