Accounting for Teachers' Time

Regarding the Opinion page article "Year-Round Teaching," Feb. 27: It is surprising that a person like the author, who is obviously familiar with the school system, does not consider "planning periods" as "work time." The author and many others like him believe that only classroom time is work, and therefore, unless a teacher spends eight hours a day actually teaching, she is inefficient and unprofessional. Even reviewing previously covered material should be banished, he argues.

Unfortunately, there are two problems with this model. First, it is still true that repetition is necessary for learning. In fact this is how advertisers and politicians operate in shaping our needs and opinions quite effectively, if not always ethically. Second, ideas, science, and the everyday world change at a fast pace. A serious educator should spend more time educating and informing herself than actually transmitting this material once. Even old material needs to be presented in a current context. Teachers may be already spending too much time in the classroom perpetuating obsolete thinking and attitudes because they lack the time to learn and reflect.

Out-of-classroom time is essential whether or not schools operate throughout the year. The author's narrow-minded "efficiency" will only succeed in cramming young minds with out-of-date and devalued currency - a foolish and dangerous investment. Maria Comninou, Dexter, Mich.

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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