Letters to the Editor. Back to school

After reading your Back-to-School series (Sept. 3-10), specifically the explanations of Secretary William Bennett's convictions, ideals, and intentions [``The federal agenda,'' Sept. 4], I would say we are most fortunate to have him in that post. Isn't it interesting that when President Reagan realized he could not and would not abolish the Department of Education as he had originally anticipated doing, he turned this controversial governmental arm into a force for constructive analysis and positive, even startling, reform within the nation's public school structure and policy?

Local school boards, and alert parents, have deplored and fought for years the liberal philosophy and constantly declining educational standards gripping our public schools. For proof, one merely needs to look at the astounding proliferation of private schools.

The sentiment for stricter, tougher, conservative, value-oriented standards and guidelines for teaching and teachers is gaining strength across the nation. Your excellent series on the ``federal agenda'' for education in the mid-'80s highlights the prophetic purpose and placement of Bennett in this critical position. Shirley Selby Escondido, Calif.

Thank you for the article ``Guiding children toward accomplishment -- at their own pace,'' Sept. 5, by Karen Hoenecke. Though the article addresses children at home, it also says something about teaching in schools.

As the article implies, not everyone is a natural teacher. Even the most well-meaning and involved parents can use tips on how to effectively teach their children. We should remember this as we consider teachers for our schools.

We seem to feel that anyone who's been to school knows how to teach. Find a creative person, we say, or an expert with depth of knowledge in his field, someone who's interested in the idea of teaching, and we'll have a good teacher. This is not true.

A good teacher must know how to grab students' attention, fire them up about a variety of subjects, and explain things in language they can grasp. Most important, a teacher must allow students to make their own discoveries. As pointed out, too much interference or too little encouragement can harm young learners.

Effective teaching requires thought, concentration, self-awareness, attention to others. And, as parents will agree, patience and stamina. Denise Mahon Berkeley, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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