February 19, 2013

Would Laura Murphy [“The choice to read ‘Beloved,’ ” Local Opinions, Feb. 17] have history teachers send permission slips home two weeks in advance before covering a unit on the horrors of genocide?

The personal cruelty that a character in “Beloved” experiences may impact his or her actions. Can’t we at least try to understand why painful decisions are made by some? What is the downside in exposing thoughtful teens to literature that include the theme of man’s inhumanity to man? The Bible includes similar themes. From such powerful literature ensue discussions of motives, understanding of courses of actions, bigotry, the misuse of power and the unfathomable resilience of — and triumph of — the human spirit.

Diana Hellinger, Washington

As was reported in the Feb. 8 Metro article “Taking on a literary classic,” Laura Murphy’s son was assigned “Beloved” in an Advanced Placement English class. In other words, this book was not part of the regular Fairfax County Public Schools curriculum. Ms. Murphy’s son was taking a college-level English class with college-level material.

As a retired AP teacher, I have observed that many Fairfax parents want their children to have the pluses of AP courses (college credit, extra points on their GPAs). While it is good to encourage students to take these classes, they need both the intellectual and the emotional maturity to do so. Classes should not be tailored down to those who do not have both.

Ann Simon, Oakton