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Reader's Forum Winter 2010

Reader responses to Learn as You Go, the Summer 2009 issue of YES! Magazine.

Cover image of issue 51Learn as You Go

Imagine my delight in finding your story on Capacitar. I was privileged to travel with Capacitar several times in the 1990s. I still practice tai chi and several of the healing modalities.

Needless to say I was a changed person after the trip. Upon returning to Atlanta, I volunteered to work with men in transition from prison to free lives. I have a treasure trove of memories indelibly imprinted on my soul for life.

I have retired and moved to the country (I now teach English to Hispanic adults). I love nature and the simple life. I follow a slow-food lifestyle. I do not have a TV or computer. My life feels rich and abundant. 

And my work jeans have an applique of a heart with YES! in the middle.

—Iris Mojica Arias, Alto, GA



A learning community

You have no idea what great support your last issue is for me. Last August my son, a high school junior, told me that he was not going back to school—he was more interested in getting an education.

He has spent the last two months putting together an amazing learning community for himself with a little help from a local homeschooling program. He has sought out people to teach him art, English, sign language, and Latin. He is creating a comparative science class based on his interest in Goethe.

He completed his elementary education in a Waldorf School and it helped to forge the kind of person that doesn’t confuse “busy work” for real learning.

As a fellow human, I was thrilled—as a mom I was nervous. Thank you for giving me the resources I need to be strong in supporting him.

—Laura Boram, Whidbey Island, WA



Value public education

I appreciate John Taylor Gatto’s radical approach to education, and his important view that education is most meaningful when students are active members of their community. I have no doubt that he was a phenomenal public school teacher.

But I disagree most vehemently that there is “a mismatch between what common sense tells you what [the young] will need to know, and what is actually taught,” and that the great education he was lucky to receive “is missing in public schools today but still exists in many private schools.” I am really disappointed to see this opinion reflected on so many pages of this issue of YES! To me, it sounds like a big “NO!”

Common sense tells me that young people need to be able to read and write well, and think logically and critically. This is exactly what they are learning in public school. To say that the best education is only available through private, home-, or unschooling strikes me as mighty elitist. For many young people, pursuing an education in public school is a radical act.

Public education is the foundation of a democratic society. It is not meant to teach you everything about life, but to ensure that all citizens have the tools—literacy and logical, critical, creative thinking—to function in society. Remember:all meaningful improvements to our system of education will take place within public schools, and to discount them flies right in the face of the YES! philosophy to build a just and sustainable world.

—Rebecca Mattis, Barre, VT



Van Jones takes the fall

I was of the opinion that Van Jones might not be able to do very much to bring about change by joining the Obama administration because Obama has shown that he does not want to make much significant change by the way he handled the financial crisis and by advancing the war in Afghanistan.

However, I didn’t think that Obama would fail to stand behind Van Jones if he was attacked by the Republicans. When the Republicans were in power they forced the Democrats to accept many appointments that were bad. Obama is not going to win any points by giving in to the Republicans.

Obama has to start standing up for his people and his positions on issues such as health care. He needs to do whatever he can to defend himself and not give in any more than necessary to the very destructive ways of the people who seem to control the Republican Party and who seem to want to prevent any type of reform in our government.

—Jim Tjepkema, Clarks Grove, MN



Break out of the cubicle!

I am an admitted paper pusher, a bookkeeper/office manager with a huge desire to do something more tangible.

I think the world has too many paper pushers, and most of us could best serve ourselves and the world if our offices closed down due to a lack of paperwork required. We would then be forced to do something more meaningful and motivating.

Do any other readers feel like I do?

—Monica Donley, Sherman Oaks, CA

 

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