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Letter: Curriculum Is Not The Classroom

I am certain John Owens can respond to the recent critical letter faulting his opposition to the imposition of the new core curriculum in New York State schools. I support Owens’ position. The writer assumes Owens opposes excellence because he describes the psychological factors present in every learning environment. Intelligence, and the willingness to apply it are individual endowments. They need the proper atmosphere. A teacher’s job is to provide those conditions favorable to learning. Owens’ insight in this regard is commendable. Excellence cannot be imposed, least of all by bureaucratic fiat nor corporate competition.

In order to achieve the learning atmosphere in the classroom, we must alter our design, in both time and content. For example, some students should be permitted to graduate high school in two years, others should remain for six. The intervening time being subject to individual commitment and accomplishment. Some students should be permitted to leave and resume schooling without penalty. Curriculum should encourage talent. It needs flexibility. Education is a vehicle of opportunity for all. Our laws guarantee it, our curriculum does not. You cannot and should not train every student to be an after-dinner speaker.

Testing is not an evil. Excess testing is. When it is overused it blunts motivation, stunts academic development and curiosity. The need to know is reduced to its bare essentials of what is on the test. The test should serve learning. Learning should not serve the test. Testing is also necessary since admission to education involves opportunity. Evaluations are not only advantageous, but necessary.

Comparisons to European and Asian models do not serve us well. Most educational systems in the world are restrictive. Conflict is stopped at the classroom door by a priori policies which limit access to education for all sorts of discriminatory reasons. A by-product of these admission requirements is the conservation of resources. Fewer students yield significant cost savings.

Finally, in a certain sense, a quality classroom is a difficult achievement. Many students are neither ready nor willing to seize the opportunity that education provides. Their resistance creates a special challenge for every teacher. Learning is a lifetime activity. Foreclosure is not an option, neither is test-driven selectivity. Management of these dichotomous objectives is a difficult task. A quality classroom managed by an excellent teacher provides the observer with some of the best theater he will ever witness. Let us work together to improve the script.

William T. Plunkett, Ed.D.

News

Driving rain and an early start time did not deter 600 people who arrived at Crest Hollow Country Club recently to celebrate the Women’s Fund of Long Island’s 20th year and to honor four exceptional women.

The breakfast started with a meet and greet and a chance to showcase Women’s Fund contest winner Patti Hogarty, designer of “Women as Bamboo.” Inspired by her neighbor’s bamboo, she entered the contest drawing a design of the bamboo, which Ambalu Jewelers of Roslyn then turned into various pendants of which 40-percent of the profits would go to WFLI. Hogarty wrote a short essay comparing women to bamboo in that they are strong and can weather difficult storms, yet remain graceful and continue to grow sending out new shoots.

Oyster Bay High School Principal Dr. Dennis O’Hara addressed the board of education at Tuesday night’s meeting about offering a summer school program at the high school. It would be the first time the district had a summer school program in more than 12 years.

Dr. O’Hara explained that with the institution of the Common Core state standards, students are faced with a greater level of academic rigor and more challenging coursework. The program would offer remedial and enrichment classes for students both in and out of district.


Sports

In the history of Oyster Bay High School athletics, no one has ever won a Girls’ Tennis New York State Championship. Celeste Matute and Courtney Kowalsky became the first when they won the 2014 New York State Doubles Championship in Latham on Nov. 3. What makes this tremendous achievement even more remarkable is that Matute is a junior and Kowalsky is a sophomore.

The girls, who are usually singles players, teamed up to take on the very best players in Nassau County and New York State. They won all 10 matches in the section XIII and NYSPHSAA tournaments and left Latham as the 2014 New York State doubles champions.

The conditions were as fierce as the competition earlier this month at Oakcliff Sailing’s Halloween Invitational.

Ten teams from the U.S., Canada and Bermuda battled 30-knot-plus winds, heavy rain and biting cold to see who would take top honors at Oakcliff’s final match racing event of the 2014 season.


Calendar

Annual Turkey Trot

Thursday, Nov. 27

Turkey Detox Workshop

Friday, Nov. 28

East Norwich Holiday

Sunday, Nov. 30



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com