The Christian Science Monitor / Text

Readers write: Education reform, war in Somalia, and texting

Letters to the editor published in the March 13 magazine. Readers reflect on war and famine in Somalia, and the pitfalls of modern communication.

By Monitor readers

Texting across generations

Murr Brewster’s Feb. 6 article (“Putting the ‘punk’ in ‘punctuation’”) dealing with punctuation in text messaging especially hit home, and demanded sharing with the four members of my family Wordle group chat. 

One occasional topic of conversation has been the difficulties of understanding each other’s texting punctuation. Since we range in age from the mid-20s to the mid-80s, this is probably to be expected.

While we all loved Murr’s delightful essay, we found her explanation of text-specific punctuation to be especially helpful. The 20-something observed, “to digital natives (me) it is completely intuitive and it takes a second to register that people of another demographic may not have the same innate thoughts about it.” A 50-something then begged her, “Please have compassion and patience for us that weren’t to the Texter born.”

Murr’s ability to combine humor and useful information is always notable. In this case it was especially so.

Suzanne Krogh
Bellingham, Washington

Keeping up with Somalia

I am sure I am not the only Monitor reader who is confused about what has gone on over the years – and is going on presently – in Somalia.  

Scott Peterson’s cover story (Feb. 27, “Somalia, 30 years later”) which covers such a long time in a war-torn country was informative and very moving. While reading it I felt sad that that country has gone through so much.

The  article gives one some hope, while Scott Peterson points out how precarious things still are in Somalia.  

Nick Royal
Santa Cruz, California

My northern lights

The first time I saw the aurora borealis I was on a ship off the coast of Norway, just 18 years old. When I saw the sky glowing in hot pink I initially wondered if all of Norway had a pink sky. But a crew member explained I was seeing the northern lights, in all their splendor. 

The next sighting was in Fairbanks, Alaska, and just recently in Reykjavik, Iceland. Like the writer of your article “Cold journey. Lasting joy. My trek to see the northern lights.” (published in the Feb. 20 magazine), I waited night after night past midnight for the promised color to appear. Then, in the final night/morning hours, the molecules did their tricks, and the “ballet” of “neon” green began lighting up the sky.

Your article brought back these happy memories. Thank you! 

Nancy Robison
Newport Beach, California

Re-imagining education

The article “Families are leaving public schools. How will that change education?” (published online, Feb. 15) points to a dip caused by growing interest in private and charter schools, an uptick in home schooling, and declining birth rates. But there are additional reasons why families may decide to leave traditional public schools. 

There is a dire need to modernize education. A recent poll shows that 91% of parents want education reimagined. As the CEO of the Aurora Institute, an education nonprofit, I know that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Students should get credit for learning that happens anytime, anywhere; engage in hands-on, real-world learning; and have true agency over their learning. Instead of moving ahead when they’ve sat in a classroom for a certain amount of time, students should advance based on demonstrated mastery of skills and knowledge.

Susan Patrick
Arlington, Virginia