Re "Socializing Students for Anarchy," by Glenn Woiceshyn, Column Right, Feb. 18:
I'm afraid the problem is not so much John Dewey as it is Plato. We want so much to believe that truth and knowledge equate with goodness and virtue. Unfortunately it's not quite that simple, and I regret Woiceshyn's use of a column to bash teachers and public education.
Over the years since the 1950s, most of my high school students have gone on to successful and rewarding lives--some of them to prominent success. But not all. I remember an older teacher telling me very seriously when I began teaching: "Never visit a state prison. If you do, someone will call your name from one of the cells asking if you remember them." I have no idea how many of my students are doing time. I have heard of three--one a lifer.
As I was reading Woiceshyn's article, I stopped to listen to a TV report from Ruby Bridges Hall, who, as a 6-year-old, began the integration of the New Orleans public schools. Against the backdrop of unreasoned hate this little girl experienced and against my own lifetime of teaching, Woiceshyn's statement that "the only way to stop students from acting like animals is to regard them as thinking human beings" rings very hollow.