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Letter: Curriculum Is Not The Classroom

I am certain John Owens can respond to the recent critical letter faulting his opposition to the imposition of the new core curriculum in New York State schools. I support Owens’ position. The writer assumes Owens opposes excellence because he describes the psychological factors present in every learning environment. Intelligence, and the willingness to apply it are individual endowments. They need the proper atmosphere. A teacher’s job is to provide those conditions favorable to learning. Owens’ insight in this regard is commendable. Excellence cannot be imposed, least of all by bureaucratic fiat nor corporate competition.

In order to achieve the learning atmosphere in the classroom, we must alter our design, in both time and content. For example, some students should be permitted to graduate high school in two years, others should remain for six. The intervening time being subject to individual commitment and accomplishment. Some students should be permitted to leave and resume schooling without penalty. Curriculum should encourage talent. It needs flexibility. Education is a vehicle of opportunity for all. Our laws guarantee it, our curriculum does not. You cannot and should not train every student to be an after-dinner speaker.

Testing is not an evil. Excess testing is. When it is overused it blunts motivation, stunts academic development and curiosity. The need to know is reduced to its bare essentials of what is on the test. The test should serve learning. Learning should not serve the test. Testing is also necessary since admission to education involves opportunity. Evaluations are not only advantageous, but necessary.

Comparisons to European and Asian models do not serve us well. Most educational systems in the world are restrictive. Conflict is stopped at the classroom door by a priori policies which limit access to education for all sorts of discriminatory reasons. A by-product of these admission requirements is the conservation of resources. Fewer students yield significant cost savings.

Finally, in a certain sense, a quality classroom is a difficult achievement. Many students are neither ready nor willing to seize the opportunity that education provides. Their resistance creates a special challenge for every teacher. Learning is a lifetime activity. Foreclosure is not an option, neither is test-driven selectivity. Management of these dichotomous objectives is a difficult task. A quality classroom managed by an excellent teacher provides the observer with some of the best theater he will ever witness. Let us work together to improve the script.

William T. Plunkett, Ed.D.

News

On Saturday, July 5, Building J on the Western Waterfront was opened to the public for a free concert of classical music played by talented youth in the Oyster Bay Music Festival. The acoustics in the large metal shed were lively as the backdrop of the Ida May, a wooden oyster dredge under construction, lent artisanal flavor to the rich stew of mostly sea-related musical selections. People sat on stacks and benches of freshly milled wood or stood in the cavernous space. They soaked in beautiful solos, duets and trios that combined voice, piano, flute, cello and violin. Frank M Flower & Sons provided fresh oysters that engaged the palate, and representatives from Steinway & Sons gave a quick overview of how their pianos are made, relating several aspects of their meticulous process to the construction of the Ida May.

Last week was one of Oyster Bay’s biggest, most anticipated summer events, the Italian American Society’s St. Rocco’s Festival. Returning to its usually spot in Fireman’s Field on Shore Avenue, the festival was filled with amusement rides, live music, and great food and company.

“We come every year to St. Rocco’s with friends,” said Laura Regan of East Norwich. “The rides and awesome food make it a lot of fun.”


Sports

Oakcliff’s intensive training program provided a high level of competition last weekend at the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship in Oyster Bay.

This year, the teams selected for the event were highly ranked through the United States, and several of the competitors are past and current Oakcliff trainees, including Elizabeth Shaw, Kathryn Shiber, Madeline Gill, and Danielle Gallo.

A total of 11 members of St. Dominic Track Team (grades 1-8) recently medaled at the Nassau-Suffolk CYO Championship Finals at Mitchel Field. In the finals, the athletes competed against the finalists from all three regions, representing more than 2,500 athletes from 23 other parishes.

In addition to the student athletes’ success, the track coaches were honored as well. St. Dominic CYO Track coaches Phil Schade (grades 1-3), Julie and Mike Keffer (grades 4-6) and Rich Cameron (grades 7-8) were selected by peer coaches in their region for the NSCYO Team Sportsmanship Award. The Saint Dominic CYO track program, in its second year, has already proven to be a force to be reckoned with and the young runners are among the best on Long Island.


Calendar

OB Band Concerts

Wednesday, July 23

Music Under The Stars

Friday, July 25

Annual Chicken BBQ

Saturday, July 26



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com