The June 18 editorial “Students of history” outlined steps that should be taken to correct the distressing ignorance of U.S. students about civics. I am sure most education professionals will endorse those recommendations, such as civic-oriented activities, because they follow modern theories of education. Unfortunately, these actions would introduce gross inefficiencies and time-wasting activities into the curriculum. Modern education theories are the main reason students complain of too much work but show themselves to be poorly educated in most subjects.
I took a one-year high school course in civics 60 years ago that was taught by our football-basketball-baseball coach, whose main interest was athletics, not civics. We never took any field trips or did any community service. Yet we learned civics. How? We went through the textbook. It wasn’t sexy or exciting — real learning seldom is — but it worked. To really improve students’ knowledge, schools need only buy good textbooks and tell the teachers to teach the book. It’s that easy.
Henry Borger, Laurel
The writer was a candidate in 2010 for the Prince George’s County Board of Education.
The June 22 editorial “Low standards?,” about the proposal by some Virginia school superintendents to modify the schedule for Virginia Standards of Learning exams, is wrong to dismiss the shortcomings of test-driven instruction.
When schools are constantly threatened with decertification and teachers’ evaluations hang in the balance, there will always be great emphasis on improving test scores. This focus may be appropriate in troubled schools where instruction is substandard, but in more successful districts such as Fairfax County, the inevitable result is an overemphasis on standardized test preparation at the expense of more creative learning.
Fairfax County Schools Superintendent Jack D. Dale and several of his colleagues want to remedy this problem by getting the tests out of the way earlier in the school year for students who are ready to take them. Their proposed solution might not be perfect, but The Post ought not to be so skeptical of their efforts.
Joseph Testa, Vienna