Readers write: Eco-building, ring salad, and education for democracy

Letters to the editor for the Oct. 17, 2022 weekly magazine. Readers mark the end of summer and consider the role of education in a democracy. 

Eco-building that saves 

Kudos to those looking for practical ways to build in harmony with the environment, as seen in the Sept. 26 cover story, “Back to nature for cooler buildings.” 

As a retired homebuilder, most of these solutions are “one-off.” It’s difficult to convince a bank, an appraiser, a zoning commission, a building inspector, or neighbors that this approach will work. Having said that, I hope that some of the innovative ideas will gradually work their way into the system. It wasn’t too long ago that building with plywood was a new idea. Same for the use of prefabricated parts like roof and floor trusses and high-tech windows. 

If you can show how these ideas save money and can be produced in volume, both homeowners and production builders will take note.

Paul Sedan
San Francisco

A summer of ring salad

Summer has come to a close and for the most part, so has outdoor entertaining. And so is serving my favorite, most complimented, and most requested recipe ever – Wunder ring salad, printed in August 2021. Finding those little round pasta noodles proved to be a challenge, but I finally found them online. I follow the recipe to the last ingredient. 

I want to thank Sue Wunder for sharing her family recipe with all of us readers of the Monitor. She is right – you can’t improve on perfection!

Cecelia Miller

Educating for democracy

I am so happy that you are running an education series of long-overdue articles on public education and democracy.  

An image in the Aug. 29 cover story, “Public education, democracy, and the future of America,” shows one of the problems with our education system. We have what seems an unchangeable history of students sitting passively for 18 years in rows of desks. They face toward a teacher who dominates and is the imparter of knowledge, using tools that include pencils, paper, and books, supporting singular, mostly verbal learning styles. 

For years I’ve worked with the School Zone Institute in New Mexico, where we have been trying to change the American classroom into a production studio, giving power to students through collaborative and creative projects, exhibitions of their work, public speaking, presentations, and a more democratic way of operating the classroom. Educators need to facilitate acquisition of knowledge through the students’ own learning style (visual, musical, art, architecture, history, and more). 

Students need self-identification with the subject matter in which they are interested. The classroom or studio itself has to be a model of democracy. As the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, once said, “The time for thinkers has come.”

Anne Taylor
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Whoop of joy 

When I finished reading the Aug. 29 cover story on public education, I let out an audible whoop of joy. Why? Because of my own personal focus right now: prison reform and education! 

I do not believe there is another publication doing what the Monitor is doing when it comes to covering today’s worldwide – take that farther into outer space – scene. 

And to know there would be three more parts in this series did indeed fill my cup of gratitude to overflowing. 

Carolyn A. Hill
Portland, Oregon

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