Dear Diane, Re your list of the "musts" (math, literacy, history, the sciences, arts and phys ed). It seems easy until one notices what's been left out. (Not to mention whose history, which sciences, what math and so on. ) My friend Ted Sizer argued that since choices had to be made he'd drop phys ed and foreign languages. He got into a lot of trouble for saying it out loud. You left foreign languages out too—on purpose? Of course, life is long, so what we stuff into the years from 5-18 is just a sampling of what we might...

Dear Deb, Apparently your trip to China has in no way dimmed your energy or your imagination. Imagine filing two pieces almost instantly! What knowledge is of most worth? I don't think we would answer the question very differently. Despite some argumentativeness around the margins, we agree on "habits of mind," and we also (I think) agree that math, literacy, history, the sciences, the arts, and physical education are essential elements in education. You prefer to have the teachers in each school decide what the content of each year's curriculum is; I believe that it is valuable and indeed necessary ...

Dear Diane, I'm intrigued by the hard work theme. I don't know the data well, but I do know that employed Americans work harder than comparable employees in industrialized nations. I also know our public policy decreases the odds of parents staying home with their infants, having shared vacations, etc. I think of us as a nation busy being entertained and short on leisure. I actually became a teacher most of all because I wanted my summers free! (Just as I chose Antioch College in 1949—which just closed—because it was the only college I could find that had...

Dear Diane, With that Spencer question—"What knowledge is of most worth?"—lingering in my mind I took a quick trip to Boston for the 8th grade graduation ceremonies at my old school—Mission Hill. Lots of old-timers were there—former students, families and staff. The place is a magnet—drawing us back together for renewal and inspiration. With us also for the week were visitors from a K-5th grade school in North Carolina that several of us had visited in May—a school in crisis over its history as a magnet school for "open" education. Their reactions...

Dear Deb, Your trip sounds wonderful, fascinating, and even worth the physical stress. I didn't mention it before, but after my trip to China in 1998, I became quite ill as a direct result of an 18-hour flight. Of course, stuff happens here, too. Last week, I was supposedly flying from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, to NYC, which should have been a routine flight. The air-traffic-control system somehow went down, and it took me 15 hours of travel to actually make the trip. I would have preferred to go to China! Your remarks about how a controlled media produces confusing data ...

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