Benefits of home schooling Regarding "Report card on home schooling in US" (March 25): It's nice to hear a friendly voice directed at our movement. I am 15, and I've been home-schooled all my life.

Throughout the article, you referred to the parent as the student's teacher in a home schooling structure. While this is true for many home-schoolers, there are many of us who teach ourselves from any resource.

I believe that it's not absolutely necessary for a student to have an external source of educational guidance. The traditional role of the parent remains what it had been for millennia, that of mentor, nurturer, and friend.

Home-schooled people usually are not at any disadvantage whatsoever in social situations or group activities. Rather, they are often more comfortable working with others than are public-schooled people, as they are accustomed to living in the real world, as opposed to spending most of their time in the confines of a school building.

Peter Catlin Rochester, N.Y.

The comment that school is preparing children "for a world where they have to go out and talk to other people" implies that home-schooled children are isolated in their homes and that non-home-schooled children are encouraged to talk in class, which is rarely true.

Schools do not teach children to get along with others. Students learn that they are in competition with one another for grades and attention, and that they should not talk but merely listen to the teacher.

In no way do age-segregated, randomly selected groups mirror the real world. In fact, the diversity of the real world can be quite a shock to young people emerging from the sheltered world of an institution.

Home-schooled children are not being prepared to go out into the world - they are in the world already, talking with a variety of people about real-life matters instead of being isolated in an artificial environment.

It's too bad that the only way home schooling is justified to some people is through test scores, because to me the social benefits and real-life learning are the most important reasons to home school.

Suzanne Soul Vista, Calif.

Human scale of conflict, expanded

In the March 29 edition of the Monitor there was a sidebar called "The human scale of conflict." It was a list of various countries in which conflicts have occurred recently, and the number of deaths in each situation.

It seems that this list is highly selective, showing conflicts involving non-Americans but omitting those in which the US played a major role. The most prominent omissions are Guatemala, in which 200,000 persons lost their lives between 1972 and 1996, and El Salvador, where 70,000 were killed during roughly the same period. Also absent were Panama, Nicaragua, and Iraq.

Robert L. Thatch Kansas City, Mo.

I was dismayed that the chart omitted one of recent history's largest and most brutal human-rights disasters - the "conflict" between China and Tibet. Although China's original invasion dates to 1949, it wasn't until 1959 that oppression of Tibet escalated dramatically with a systematic destruction of the Tibetan population and culture. This included 1.2 million Tibetan deaths (one-fifth of the population) and the demolition of more than 6,000 monasteries, temples, and cultural sites.

I consider it one of the world's great tragedies -and ironies -that this extremely religious and peace-loving people are being annihilated.

Glenn Richards Newburyport, Mass.

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