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We need to ask 'are' our children learning

By       Message Mary MacElveen       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Once in a while I find an article that does speak to me since I am a parent of two teenage children and as you will see below, I responded to one such article found in the San Francisco Chronicle written by Mark Morford.  So, below, I did write a letter to the editor.  While they may not publish it, I will do so here.

 I just finished reading, Mark Morford’s column,American kids, dumber than dirtand I find it very disturbing on so many levels but the one that screams out at me are how our children sit endlessly in front of the computers or with I Pods attached to their heads.  More will know who Lindsay Lohan is than St. Joan of Arc.  I almost feel that the consumerism is the root cause where our children need the latest gadget and the library card is becoming extinct.  Yes, most of our children do have access to the Internet, but one must ask; are they using it to search for information to enhance what they are studying?  Or are they using it to connect to sites which allow them to play online games.   As an adult non-paid writer who searches out information on one topic or another, as I relay this information to others, one can see their eyes glaze over.  It is like you are from another planet.  Has anyone ever heard the term ‘Know it all’ used in a derogatory manner?  It is like intelligence in this country is mocked at every turn.   We howl at the moon when we see foreigners being hired by major corporations to fill high tech jobs and could the reason be that their countries demand more of them while growing up?  This is not to say that all American children are dumb, but how many times do you see a child rewarded for what he/she has learned?  Yes, we have Spelling Bees, math and science competitions, but they do not get nearly as much attention to sports related activities.   I do not think that standardized testing is the answer, but letting our teachers teach the curriculum.  When you have teachers mandated by state and federal laws to teach our children how to take these tests, much is lost to our children.  What they should be doing instead is teaching the basics which are reading, writing and arithmetic.  I would say that Mark Morford gets an A+ for writing such an informative column. 

Then again, when some folks look up to President Bush who has said in the past, “Is our children learning.” What does one expect coming from our children as he mangles the English language?


It is not only President Bush that I worry about when it comes to conveying any information to the American people, there is also Rosey O’Donnell and to read her blogs, it leaves me scratching my head.  Below is a passage from her blog and adults read this?  More importantly they hang on every word?

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 a talky in the middle i say it is wednesday
but its not
its monday
my new comp has the wrong day/time thinggy

An increasing amount of cyber-lingo has found its way into the school work turned in by students as one reads,  As online chat emerges, so do new errors in English class. Jim Ellis of the AP wrote, “an increasing number of Austin's eighth-graders also submit classwork containing "b4," "ur," "2" and "wat" - words that may confuse adults but are part of the teens' everyday lives.” I wonder if this will be the new lingo adults will use in the future and more importantly will grammatically correct language die off?  I hope not.


What does trouble me and it should to every parent is this passage, “But junior high and high school teachers nationwide say they see a troubling trend: The words have become so commonplace in children's social lives that the techno spellings are finding their way into essays and other writing assignments.” Just so you know as I look at my children’s homework especially if it’s an essay is for any use of cyber-lingo.

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When my children were toddlers, two of my favorite TV shows were “Reading Rainbow” and yes, “Mr. Rogers” I felt they enlightened my children as well as giving them a sense of well being.  Okay, for you Barney haters, I just loved “Barney” The reason for liking “Barney” is that this purple dinosaur taught my children and many other children to love and to care for one another.  As Pokemon came on the scene, I could not understand what these cartoon characters were saying and yet they were all the rage.  Pokemon cards were traded like pieces of gold.  Meanwhile the true gold was found in shows that actually taught our children valuable lessons and ignited their passions to read.

At times parents are quick to blame the school system for their children’s low grades and even failing grades, but the best lessons are learned at home.  Children do mimic adults and if they see adults tethered to their TV sets and computers; what do we as adults expect?  Maybe if they see us reading more books or even your daily newspaper, something may click.  Instead of saying, “Hey, kids do you want to go to the mall?” instead we say, “Hey, kids let’s take a trip to the library.” It couldn’t hurt; could it?

Author’s email address is,


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I am a writer who currently writes pieces for my own blog I have been published by, and I was a guest on the Jay Diamond Radio Show on WRKO in Boston and have (more...)

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