Regarding the April 26 article "When quiet kids get forgotten in class": This article highlights what I regard as a significant problem in our society - the fact that the contemplative person is so often regarded as odd, an anomaly. The article notes, "There are people who are quite content to be by themselves." I am one of those people.
I work at a hospital, in a quite stressful and demanding job. My preferred way of spending my breaks is to be by myself, reading or quietly meditating. For what seems to be the majority of the population, the sight of someone quietly enjoying a book is an open invitation to interrupt; they can't seem to believe that I would actually choose to sit by myself and read.
Unfortunately, I think this reflects a potentially serious problem in society - the constant need for external stimulation has already been noted as a virtual addiction, one that is being promoted 24/7 by our plugged-in culture.
I am so happy that teachers are finally realizing that shy students have as much to offer as their more outgoing peers.
I am concerned, however, that well-meaning teachers may make quiet students even more uncomfortable in their attempts to draw them into class discussions.
Some experts suggest that "once quiet children begin to respond, specific, public praise can help them to feel important and valued."
In my experience as a shy child, this was not the case. If I did not speak up in class, it was generally because I did not want attention. Specific, public praise by teachers in front of other students often made me less likely to speak up in class, even at times to give wrong answers purposefully in order to avoid receiving such praise again.
Teachers would do better to encourage shy children in a more personal setting, where perhaps only their closest friends or relatives are present. Better yet, praise them when no one else is watching. In the rare event shy children want public praise, they will seek it themselves.
Regarding Brad Rourke's April 28 Opinion piece, "There's no place like home for take-the-kids-to-work day," in which the positives and negatives of his working from home are evaluated: Although I enjoyed Mr. Rourke's positive outlook, I feel he is overlooking one aspect: when work interferes with home and family life.
My stepfather worked from home when I was younger, and at first it seemed like a great idea. The problem was, he was a workaholic, and he could sneak down to his office in the basement in the evenings and on weekends to work even more.
The family computer was in his space, and when I used it I had to be silent so as not to interrupt the conference calls. Co-workers would even call the house phone at night if he wasn't picking up his business line. Our home became primarily an office - not to mention how stir crazy he got after a few years of having very little human contact in what became known as "the dungeon."
Working from home can be relaxing, but let's not be so quick to recommend that everyone mesh their work and home lives before we consider the consequences the rest of the household may suffer.
Regarding the April 18 article "Republicans sharply split over immigration": A country that doesn't protect its borders and language ceases to be a nation.
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.
Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .
Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.