Your editorial "Going Multicultural in P.G." {Aug. 16} argued that certain disciplines, like math and science, are "intrinsically nonethnic," and therefore we should not infect them with cultural infusions. With all due respect, only someone educated in a monoculture could have written such nonsense. Every subject, every discipline, is universal and has universal application.

Take math, for example. Long ago, our country needed to count bales of cotton and factory widgets. Now we're mathematically out of step with the rest of the world, because we don't even use the metric system.

Remember those mind-warping word problems? Think how we could expand a student's horizon by simple substitution. Instead of "If Johnny's mom gives him two baloney sandwiches on Tuesdays, and his school bus drives an average of 35 mph, what is the probability that Johnny will show up late at football practice on Thursday?" Why not ask about Mariko and the exchange rate of the yen? It is not enough to teach children that two plus two equals four; they need to know why, and, yes, it is important to know that those numbers come from Arabic.

In French class, why turn off one more generation of students with deadly dialogues between Gigi and Pierre at the Parisian cafe', when the Francophone world -- 60 percent of which lives in fascinating places like Senegal and Cameroon -- has a rich and powerful literature upon which to draw? Multiculturalism is even more important in Spanish classes, given the important contributions of our Hispanic population.

Science is hardly a cultural neuter, either. From the discovery of humankind's origins in the Ethiopian highlands to the pictures of our planet from the Hubble spacecraft, science is nothing if not universal. Even learning about computers can be an internationalizing experience if taught creatively, to say nothing of music, art, current events, writing, economics and even vocational education.

A Senegalese proverb tells youth, "Your ears are older than you are," referring to the vast oral tradition passed on from generation to generation. In America, our ears are very young. To survive in today's global environment, we need to hear voices other than our own. If you listen closely, you might hear them right across the street. -- Kitty Thuermer