Letters

Reading grades aloud: Humiliating or not?

Regarding "Does reading grades aloud invade privacy?" (Nov. 27): Perhaps I can offer a solution: Gain a student's permission to have his or her grade read aloud.

For four years I taught junior high, and gave many tests. At the end of each marking period, I read each student's grades so he or she could compute an average, hoping to alleviate any distrust a student might have about the grades I maintained. Also correcting an occasional gradebook inaccuracy, this method worked wonderfully. My principal, the students, and their parents approved highly. I did allow students the option to see their grades privately to avoid embarrassment. Interestingly, it was not always the low-scoring students who opted out.

Dennis Bianco New York

While we need to be sensitive to the potential embarrassment in the reading of grades in class, I am apprehensive about more rules dictating a teacher's style. I am a soccer coach of kindergartners, and while we do not formally keep score, and, in fact, discourage a focus on it, you can be assured most kids on the field know the score anyway.

All we can do is manage that knowledge; teach them to respect the other team when they lose, and encourage them to be good sports. I think there is a happy medium here that is sensitive to the students' emotions, yet prepares them for the world.

John Killeen Weymouth, Mass.

I have no sympathy for the school in question. The practice of publicly announcing grades had the effect of humiliating a student with learning disabilities. Is this a legitimate goal of education? Obviously it is not. I cannot believe the arrogance of the school administration in refusing to accommodate a reasonable request from the parent of the student in this case. In effect, they stated, "We will continue to allow practices in our classes that have a detrimental effect on your child's ability to receive a quality education." What did they think the parent would do?

Garth Sullivan San Francisco

Oral grading can be a positive boost for students, but it is up to the teacher and other students to make it so. First and foremost, it allows committed teachers to speed up the grading process so they can spend more time preparing for class and actually teaching. Unfortunately, in the case of the Falvos, it appears the teacher and children did not rally around the low-performing student with support to help boost his performance, but instead chose to ostracize him. The teacher mentioned in the article failed in teaching one major lesson - that of compassion for others.

In response to the claim that teachers have increasingly taken on more of a parenting role, that has become more of a trend since dual-income parents have been depending on teachers to develop their children in an increasing number of ways.

Charles Cole Austin, Texas

Textbooks of a straightforward nature

In the discussions and debates about education, there has been a neglect of the topic of how best to teach civics in the classroom. Too much of what is used today in civics classes has been sanitized and laced with textbook authors' political agendas. Government and history should be taught using original source documents, especially the writings read and written by the Founders of the United States.

It is not up to modern textbook authors to impose their own views on students, but merely to collect the most important writings of the past and let their authors speak for themselves.

Jon Roland Austin, Texas

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Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com.

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