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Student Books

February 08, 1988

This is in response to Gregory J. Wahl's letter on the Supreme Court decision allowing censorship of student newspapers (Feb. 2). Wahl's remarks included a sarcastic suggestion that perhaps next school children will be writing their own textbooks. What's wrong with that idea? In my view, it's quite a good one. In fact, I am a part of a group of kids that is in the process of writing our own history textbook.

I attend the Santa Barbara Middle School. We are a very small private school, accommodating 75 students this year. Last year, in a history class combined with English class, every student was required to write a paper consisting of an interview with someone who has lived through a major historical event, and then a section of research and history on that event.

This year we are compiling a selection of 18 of the best of these papers. They are being formatted and illustrated on computers. A team of students will be in charge of the graphics, etc. When the book is finished there is a possibility of it being sent to schools across the world that we have already contacted, educating kids in other countries about a variety of historical events. Certainly, it will be used by future Santa Barbara Middle School students as a history textbook.

Of course, this won't be the only book we use in class; there will be other standard books. But if you think about it, the best way for students to learn is to expose them to the outside world. While doing this project my friends and I learned how to interview a stranger. We learned how to use word-processing programs on one kind of computer, and the graphics programs of another.

And most of all, every one of us gained a personal view into the past, into a time when we didn't exist. We learned about what our parents and grandparents have lived through, and heard individual stories, some of which were very painful for the teller to recount. This was a project that we'll all remember, and a book that will last for a long time.

ROBIN ADLER

Santa Barbara

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