Letter: Teaching, technology both matter to most here

To the editor:

I write this letter to express my utter shock and disdain at the recent letter submitted by Little Compton School Committee member, Peg Bugara, which as of this writing appears at Eastbayri.com.  As an elected member of the school committee, Mrs. Bugara insulted administrators, educators and parents and asked several specific questions I would like to respond to.  She first asks:

“I am personally curious why you are so concerned about technology and not about the specific education your children are getting this year?”

As a parent with two young children at WMS, I know that the future for my girls lies in technology and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. My husband and I care very much about the specific education they are receiving and spend time with them every day discussing what they learned and going over classwork and homework.  Whether you love Common Core or not, the simple fact is, it’s here and the WMS teachers are doing everything they can to support student learning. For this reason, it’s imperative that Mrs. Pineaus’ position be maintained. It borders on the absurd to expect that grade specific teachers may be asked to have students master advanced literacy and mathematical concepts and teach the technology that will be needed to succeed with computer based testing, as that is certainly something we need to anticipate.

To Mrs. Bugaras second question: “Where is the cursive writing going?”

Again, as a parent who happens to have a career in both scientific research and in higher education, cursive writing is not going to make my children competitive in the job market in 20 years. Should kids learn cursive writing?

Sure (and do starting in the third grade) but not at the expense of teaching critical and analytical thinking, math, logic, problem solving and literacy.

Which brings me to the next question: “What type of vocabulary will our children be learning?”

To this question, I will respond with a direct quote from my six-year-old first grader. When I asked her what she thought of the math homework that she and my husband completed the previous evening, she said “I thought it was very challenging mom, but I got everything right on my own.”  This is the same child who brought home a ‘writing narrative’ (her words) where she “saw footprints in the snow and was completely astonished!”  Again, her own words, and no, I am not trying to tout the intelligence of my child. Quite the opposite actually – my daughters wouldn’t have such a vocabulary if it wasn’t taught in school and reinforced at home.  This too supports the argument to retain Mrs. Pineau so as to support all of the teachers at WMS and dedicate grade specific classroom time so that teachers can teach.  Next up from Mrs. Bugara: “Are you not paying attention to the changes in their education?”

To borrow a word from my first grader, I am astonished that Mrs. Bugara would insinuate we are not paying attention to what our girls are learning.  My husband and I, and every single parent I know with children in school, is paying attention to what our children are learning – which brings me to:

“Have you sat down with your child to do homework and wondered what is this all about and then showed your child how to do it your way?”

To answer simply – every single night.  The bottom line is that the way information is presented is always changing.  Should we evaluate and question things we don’t understand? Absolutely.  Sometimes I don’t understand why things are the way they are, and as an educated parent that cares, I communicate with my children’s teachers so I can reinforce concepts at home.  Teaching different ways to solve problems isn’t a bad thing – it develops critical thinking and only serves to help our children.  I was taught “old school math” and take time to show my girls that there is indeed more than one way to solve a problem.  That is my job as a parent, just as it is the grade specific teacher’s job to present math and literacy at a level that keeps our kids competitive, and it’s Mrs. Pineaus job to teach technology.

Shame on you, Mrs. Bugara.

Pamela Coward

Little Compton

 

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