As I read William Raspberry's Dec. 11 column I found myself, as usual, agreeing with a lot of what he said: most kids have dreams about being star athletes, but most know that it will not really happen for them. Mr. Raspberry added that kids work hard at athletics not because they believe they will get jobs as athletes, but "because they know that honing their skills can bring them enormous pleasure." That's a great line. And when Mr. Raspberry went on to discuss education, I expected him to mention how one can get the same kind of pleasure from honing one's academic skills. But he didn't. He made the old case for going to school to get a job.

Isn't it possible that some kids -- rich or poor, black or white, male or female -- work hard at academics because of the joy they feel at being really good at math or history or languages? It's ironic that in the same issue of The Post, the "Tank McNamara" comic strip put the cap on this subject by laughing at the poor soul whose role model was a high school English teacher rather than a pro athlete.

Sure it's important to relate education to what we do for a living. But it's equally important to recognize the real pleasure that can come from working hard enough at academics to feel yourself getting smart. JULES B. LaPIDUS Alexandria