Teaching with compassion

The Opinion page column "Teaching Is a Universal Responsibility," Feb. 5, certainly makes some valid points. However, in his explanation of what a teacher needs to do to facilitate learning, the author neglects to mention the quality most essential to good teaching: compassion.

I teach at a junior high school ranked at the bottom of our district. It angers me that people in our community look down on our school because of the students' poverty, disrupted families, and gang involvement. Don't they realize that these kids would jump at the opportunity to move to a better neighborhood?

The child of drug addicts, the boy who was stabbed while walking home, the girl who sleeps with a knife under her bed for protection, the kid who hears her mother being beaten: These are my students. They confide in me simply because I listen. I am a stable, responsible adult, and that is a rarity in their experience.

Yes, they need to learn English. Improving their reading and writing skills is critical to their futures. But even more important, they need compassion. DeAnn Wolf, Tustin, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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