As a university professor of English, I thank Sidney Shanker for calling attention to a dangerous weakness in our higher education system [``Education as a trivial pursuit,'' Jan. 22]. Not only are students ill prepared in writing and reading, but generally do not seem interested in correcting their deficiencies. The average nonspecialist student taking a required course is indifferent to the subject but convinced that simple enrollment qualifies him for a passing grade. The blame for this situation probably lies with cultural and family attitudes, financial pressures, changes of emphases in higher research institutions, and decreasing high school expectations.
To stem this trend, a tendency toward permissiveness should change. Returning to basics is a beginning. Harold F. Mosher Jr. Durango, Colo.
This problem should be attended to before entrance into college. When I first entered community college, I found myself totally unprepared. The curriculum many public school systems offer leaves students with barely enough skills to survive entry-level classes. Discipline and a sense of duty, as Shanker suggests, is badly needed from both an administrative and student standpoint. Cindy Rudolph Parma, Ohio King Canute
Melvin Maddocks is unfair to King Canute when he writes: ``This deluded monarch, relying on his royal power, pitched his throne on the beach! . . . and issued an edict to the ocean . . . to stop the tide at his command'' [``It was June in January -- or would you believe late March?,'' Jan. 29]. King Canute the Great (c. AD 995-1035) was not deluded or naive. He was a progressive monarch, and this is shown in the tide episode: He deliberately showed that the ocean did not pay attention to his commands in order to rebuke his courtiers, who attributed exaggerated powers to him and whose flattery he resented. Carlos A. Camargo Stanford, Calif. Health care
Dick Meister's lamentations are understandable, but he incorrectly blames the Reagan administration [``Scuttling health care for the poor,'' Jan 23]. The chokepoint for health care is at the supply point, not at the federal government. The supply point is controlled by the American Medical Association (AMA). Our government is as much a victim of manipulation by the AMA as you, me, and the needy. Deborah L. Muller Beavercreek, Ohio
Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address to ``readers write.''