Education Secretary William Bennett lamented in his article (Editorial Pages, Sept. 2) the fact that a surprising percentage of our high school juniors lacked much basic knowledge of history and geography. On the same page Franklin Garfield describes his daughter's resistance to his efforts to further her education at home. In frustration, his home curriculum has been condensed to merely having her look up and learn one word a day. Even that she considers "a monstrous intrusion on her time."
As one who has faced and dealt with classrooms of high school students for the past 21 years, I applaud Garfield's efforts. But I can also state that his daughter's resistance to acquiring what we adults call basic knowledge is unfortunately not at all untypical of today's teen-agers.
Don't misunderstand me; I am not putting them down. These young people are a lot sharper than what we adults give them credit for being. Today the gap between the teen-age and adult societies is wider than ever. We know that our values conflict, but most of us adults are unaware of how much they conflict.
The reasons for this are vast and complex, but two stand out in my educator's mind. We taught them to ask why, and we have given them plenty of reasons why they do not want to think about their futures.