I sent the following email to the Vermont House Education Committee. And I must add each of them has been most friendly to me....
Thank you for letting me share some of my thoughts on education with you.
The one-room schools of Vermont, which most of my contemporaries here attended and even taught, were able to offer very individualized attention to the pupil. But even more important was the inter-generational inter-action, older children helping teacher with the younger.
The very ‘advanced’ school to which I went in New Jersey was already shoveling children though the school system in an age group, aimed at teaching the ‘average’. I remember still some of the people in my class, but I cannot recall one other person in that school.
The people I know in Vermont all came out of their school system ready to be responsible functioning members of the community. They are the ones keeping Town Meetings and the notion of civic responsibility alive.
I see a strong correlation between this inter-generational experience and today’s young people’s lack of community involvement..
Today’s educational philosophy is too abstract, especially in its insistence that college is the preferred goal. A week or so ago we had our first major snow storm and power outages as a result. It was very clear that any line-worker was worth more to us than any quantity of CEO’s, MBA’s, computer programmers, or NASA engineers.
Finally I am deeply disturbed by how easily we have turned the mental and physical health of our children over to the marketing practices of any business which wants to make money off them.
I do hope with all my heart that you will give your support to some sort of civic education.
I see this being accomplished with the gift of the State of a book like the one I showed all of you, containing the Declaration of Independence, the Federal Constitution, and Vermont’s two State Constitutions, both the present and the first, which was of itself an extraordinary document, to every sixth grader at the start of the school year. The accompanying course would mandate a read-through of each document and testing only of the actual words, no interpretations.
I see sixth graders generally moaning and groaning at the imposition of such a course, but out of this group will come our town clerks, select board members, local and federal legislators, lawyers, as well as citizens like myself, who will indeed value such a course more the longer they live.
Thank you again for taking time out of your busy lives to read this. I hope it has contributed something for you! Sincerely, Pat Hejny