Opinion

Opinion and commentary on some of the most controversial education issues including, unions, Latin, and technology. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any Public School Review.
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The other day I heard about a father who was bemoaning the fact that his nineteen year old son was a mess. The gist of this father's complaint was that he had done so much for his child but nothing seemed to be appreciated.  I totally understand the complexities and pitfalls of raising children in the 21st century. It is a scary, very different world from the one I was raised in back in the 50s and 60s, for sure. It is a much different world from the one in which we raised our four children. And, yes, there were times - not many - when I was guilty of being a velcro or helicopter parent. I couldn't bear to see my children fail or make the mistakes I made. Unfortunately, that strategy never produced the results I was expecting.
 
With all this in mind let's take a look at what happens when parents over-indulge and over-protect their children.   
 
What do the terms "velcro" and "helicopter" parents mean?
 
The term "velcro parent" describes the kind of parent who sticks close to his child to protect him. The "helicopter parent" is constantly hovering around her child to protect him. Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines a helicopter parent as "a parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child". While there is no entry for "velcro parent", one can only assume that it will not be long before there is.
 
Velcro and helicopter parents have their children's best interests at heart. . . .read more
My late father-in-law, Dr. James Garnett Lyne, used to refer to what he called 'mass mediocrity' whenever he discussed education. Like me he was a product of a public school education. Neither of our parents could afford a private school education.

 

What did he mean by 'mass mediocrity'? He was referring to what he feared would be the result of a general lowering of standards in our schools. He argued that the less qualified teachers were, the less they were paid and the less demanding high school curricula were, the more we as a society would descend into 'mass mediocrity'. Dr. Lyne has been gone for 45 years. Yet his prescient words still haunt me. You see, back then, I had no clue what he was talking about. None. That scholarly father-in-law of mine was given to many well-reasoned pronouncements. I figured that this was just one more and filed it away in my memory bank.


Graduates lack basic business skills

 

 

 

 

 
In my own daily life and work I am well aware of what high school graduates - both public and private school graduates - bring to the table. The lack of basic business communications skills is appalling. And I don't think that Twitter and texting is the reason. I remain convinced until somebody can show me otherwise that most high school students are simply not taught how to write business communications. They might have had one short lesson on that skill in English . . .read more
If you have children in private school, then you are most likely looking at three months, perhaps even longer, which you must fill with activities of one kind or another during the long summer break. Your children are accustomed to structure during the other nine months of the year. It is a good idea to plan their vacation months. The structure will be there, just much more flexible and adaptable to the needs of the day. Let's look at some of your options for making summer a special time for both you and your children.
 
Young Children (ages 4-10)
 
Most schools offer summer sessions. Depending on its resources a school may offer all day sessions or just a long morning session running from approximately 9 until 1. If the school has had a summer session for several years, it probably has worked out most of the kinks. But keep an eye out for the quality of each activity. Is the school merely providing glorified babysitting or are the activities well-planned, well-organized and well-supervised by qualified personnel?
 

 
The advantage of sending a young child to a summer session at her school is that she knows just about everybody anyway. Even more important for your wee one is that the daily routine is similar to what she is already comfortable with. My biggest concern with summer sessions is the planning. Weather doesn't cooperate every day, so that refreshing time in the pool can't always be counted on. What's planned . . .read more
Editorial
 
Yet another horrific shooting. More innocent lives snuffed out. Twenty children sitting in their safe, familiar classroom. Gone.
 
These shootings have become an all too familiar story. I now think twice about visiting public places. I still go. But I am wary. The same defensive mechanism which kicks in when I drive is now present in my thinking. But let me back up a bit and explain my aversion to violence.

 

As a classicist I am quite familiar with our love of violent spectacles. Chariot races, gladiator contests and mock naval wars are all, as far as I am concerned, precursors of 21st century video games and movies. That does not mean that I like them. Not one bit.

 

 
My first taste of real violence was during the terrorist activities which took place in the Province of Quebec back in the 60s when I was a teen. I knew nothing of violence prior to that, having been raised in a leafy green English neighborhood in Montreal called Westmount. My family had lived there for several generations. But the French Canadians were tired of feeling oppressed and shackled economically and socially by a minority population, i.e., les Anglais. They started blowing things up. I was out for a walk one day heading north on Roslyn Avenue. I heard what I to this day recall as a thump. Not a bang. A thump. As I turned the corner onto Westmount Avenue I saw a body lying on the pavement. It was a letter carrier. . . .read more
Does a dead language have any place in a 21st century curriculum? Is it useful? Is it relevant? Does it have value as an enrichment to the core curriculum? I think it does and for the following reasons.
 
1. Latin offers young people a glimpse into the life and times of the ancient Romans.
 
Yes, they can read about ancient Rome and watch the videos. They can learn about expansion of the Roman Empire under Julius Caesar. All that information is readily available. But it is filtered information. The whole point of learning a language is to be able to read source materials. I don't want somebody telling me what Julius Caesar said. I want to read it for myself. I want to understand what Caesar said, why he said it, how he said it - the works.
 
With that assumption in mind it makes sense to allow students to experience the language by learning how to speak it. Perhaps Latin may be a dead language in the sense that it is no longer the lingua franca of commerce and world affairs. On the other hand Latin is a beautiful sounding language which will delight young listeners.
 
I will disclaim that I learned Latin back in the 50s and 60s when it was taught in the rather old-fashioned way languages were taught back then. You learned endless conjugations and declensions. You struggled with Latin's nuanced sense of tense. Et cetera. It would have been rather dry and dull had it not been for . . .read more
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