College TAs contribute

Many teaching assistants (TAs) would agree that they were ill prepared to meet the challenges of college teaching. [``Upgrading college teaching and learning,'' Dec. 12]. It would be appropriate, however, to broaden the horizons of your readers about the nature of this problem. First there is a significant difference in the level of maturity between the average assistant and the college freshman. Also, while some TAs may be more interested in their research than in their responsibilities to their students, many more sacrifice research in order to help their students.

In many cases the assistant does not teach the course in question. Rather, the TA is saddled with grading tests and papers, organizing discussion sections, and dealing with questions. This allows the professor to devote himeself to the presentation of lectures and to research. The absence of a TA leaves the student without a source to guide him through the material.

A TA position should not be viewed as a job. It is an apprenticeship - an opportunity for the advanced graduate student to obtain teaching experience as well as financially support himself. David Aaron Meier Teaching Assistant U of Wisconsin Madison, Wis.

No freedom here John Hughes's column ``What happened to freedom in academe?,'' Dec. 17, bewailed the action of some students to try to bar CIA recruiters and SDI researchers from their campuses.

His argument would carry much more weight if he also voiced his concern about the activities of our immigration officials, apparently with the backing of the Reagan administration, in keeping out or expelling such highly respected people as Farley Mowat of Canada, Patricia Lara of Colombia, and Margaret Randall of the US (but whose citizenship is now in question).

We have been deprived of points of view which do not coincide with our government's. Perhaps our students are simply following our government's lead in the restriction of free speech. Virginia Low Greenfield, Mass.

Words of wisdom The Monitor printed a priceless article by Eknath Easwaran which should be circulated to every American citizen able to read [``Gandhi's lesson for the Philippines,'' Dec. 10]. We need this wisdom to stop us from building up walls of animosity around the world. Alice S. McMahon Philadelphia

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