The downside of teaching children to be consumers

Regarding "Branded for Life" (Work& Money, April 1): The fact that parents and marketers are blatantly teaching children to become "good little consumers" is disgusting. This trend has already taken in generations of Americans, teaching us to "buy it up and throw it out." We are programmed by manufacturers and our peers to keep up with the Joneses. And in order to pay for this constant improving and renewing, we neglect our families – working long hours to look better in the eyes of the jury of our peers.

We should focus more on teaching our children that having more at the expense of family time is simply not worth it. The next generation needs to become aware of the consequences to this rampant consumerism – not taught to promulgate it.
Melissa J. Carter
Purlear, N.C.

Parents, not libraries, make best filters

Regarding "Porn filters on library PCs" (Editorial, March 27): As a librarian, fighting pornography is continuous and the filters I've seen don't work. I once saw a 7-year-old proudly demonstrate how he could beat a heavily filtered system. Funding is the major issue. Our computers are constantly affected by viruses and the downloading of bad files. Repairing and upgrading computers to keep them up and running is a constant drain on the budget. We shouldn't be baby-sitting library users to make sure they aren't accessing pornography.

The Internet is so huge and changes so fast, no library has enough staff to do site-by-site blocking. Filters are a political solution, not a practical one. They give parents a false sense of security, which makes filters more dangerous than no filters at all. With or without filters, parents still have to be involved in their child's Internet use. Filters change nothing in that regard.
Robert H. Finch Ft. Gibson, Okla.

Teaching religion teaches tolerance

Regarding "Creative approach to teaching religion draws fire" (Learning, March 19): I have taught social studies for almost 10 years – not touching on religion for seven, because of the controversies about teaching this topic. I was shortchanging my students.

I agree, role-playing religious ceremonies is inappropriate in classrooms. My students work in groups, to research two religious belief systems. I give them a list of beliefs most common to the US (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) and less common (Wicca, Rastafarianism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrians, etc.). I also include atheism, and agnosticism. Each group prepares a comparison/contrast chart to present to the class. We then discuss what we learned. Journal- writing allows them to write about their own beliefs. These entries usually express surprise at the number of beliefs there are.

We all need to learn more about the many belief systems. Greater understanding will lead to greater tolerance. I hope my children have teachers who know that exposing their students to different beliefs is an affirming experience, not indoctrination.
Donna Sharer Philadelphia, Pa.

Stop pushing children to hate

Regarding "Why a Palestinian girl now wants to be a suicide bomber" (April 1): Your article mentions the 14-year-old Palestinian girl who speaks highly of becoming a suicide bomber. Palestinian children volunteer to be suicide bombers because their religious leaders teach them it is willed for them to kill themselves and other innocent people. The only thing that could possibly teach this concept is hatred. I do hope all cultures reach the point where not even religion is sufficient to excuse the action of compelling children to kill themselves or others.
Charles Gruenspan
Cleveland, Ohio

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