`Minimal' Schooling

As a parent who removed my six-year-old son from a public school and began home-teaching him four months ago, I read with interest the article ``When a Home Is the Schoolhouse,'' April 15. In the article, Thomas Shannon, the executive director of the National School Boards Association, claims that home schooling is ``for the most part ... an education program that's minimal at best.'' Is ``minimal at best'' watching your child's penmanship and math improve 100 percent since leaving public school; learning first hand by going on fun and informative field trips to candy factories, science centers, or the local college raptor center; learning daily about the peoples and places of our world by cutting out articles and pictures from the Monitor and other fine publications and finding their subjects' locations on our globe; often beginning our day snuggled together on our couch reading tog ether from the Bible; daily saluting the US flag, singing a patriotic song, and then discussing the deeper meaning of these activities; hearing him humming as he spends his ``penmanship lesson'' writing a letter to his Nana or to a company to share his suggestion on how to make their product better; riding bikes together to his playgroup or gymnastics class? Best of all, at any moment during our ``school day'' he might ask, ``Can we be lovies?'' meaning he leaps into my lap, wraps his arms around my neck, a nd tells me ``I love you,'' as we sit in silence relishing this very precious moment.

If this is ``minimal at best,'' I cannot begin to imagine what a ``maximum'' education program might be.

Diane Mutchler, Davis, Calif.

Students, parents, and teachers are all mere sufferers in a schooling system which is irrelevant at best, tedious and frustrating as a rule, and frequently cruel and dangerous. The system cannot improve when it is evaluated only from within. The answer is not to offer more of the same - a longer year or a younger starting age - but to seriously seek and support alternatives. Home schooling has recently been proving itself as an extremely successful, meaningful, and humane method. Its practitioners are to be commended and its various methods could be a resource for districts truly searching for reforms.

Edwin Vare, New Haven, Conn.

Technology: solution or problem? The opinion-page article ``The Strengths of Bush's Energy Plan,'' April 16, states: ``Technology has always been the solution to America's needs....''

Technology has not always been and is not necessarily the answer to America's problems. Should I begin to list off the horrors that have emerged in the name of technology: nuclear accidents, oil spills, CFCs, toxic waste?

Is technology the answer or the problem?

Eric Katz, Arcata, Calif.

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