Rushworth Kidder's ``Perspectives'' column Sept. 16 (``Taking Risks: a lifelong process that needs to begin in school'') was well put, up to the last line. Quoting Frank Newman's report on the need for more creativity and risk-taking in tomorrow's college graduates and new entries into the American work force, Mr. Kidder wrote that the process of learning how to take risks is ``a process that begins in the classroom.'' As the parent of any toddler can attest, the process of risk-taking -- intel ligent risk-taking, I might add -- begins and often ends for children before they even set foot in a classroom. The young are natural scientists, risk-takers, and innovators. What happens to most, however, is that well-intentioned adults -- partly parents and largely poor teachers -- interrupt the natural development and knock them off stride.
As a group, children become addicted to praise, to external rewards, to teacher-pleasing (later, to boss-pleasing) behavior, and to playing it safe.
Parents who want children to think for themselves would do well to heed the advice of the late John Holt: Teach your own. Peter A. Bergson, Open Connections Inc., Executive Director Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Regarding Victoria Irwin's article on teacher shortages [``Teacher shortage erodes US hope for education reform,'' Aug. 26], we need to look outside the old rut of asking for more money and find other solutions. One way for teachers to get better pay is to work more days. I suggest that school districts consider going on trimester or quarter systems, with students not attending all terms unless they ask to do so. Martha Willis Portage, Ind.
While Douglas MacArthur's information on Soviet-supplied terrorism is enlightening, Americans should be careful not to become too self-righteously indignant [``Who has the key to the knife cupboard?'', by Douglas MacArthur II, Sept. 12]. After all, it was American CIA-trained terrorists that carried out the coup against Dr. Mossadeq in 1953 that placed the Shah of Iran in power. And let us not shield our eyes from the CIA-trained terrorists that have over the past 20 years been active in such diverse places as Zaire, Angola, Cuba, Guatemala, the Philippines, Indonesia, and now in Nicaragua. Richard Houghton Anacortes, Wash.
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