letter to the editor

School matters

Posted:  Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 11:15am

Dear Editor:

Two weeks ago I attended the Holiday Concert put on by the kids from BRES and BRHS at the Opera House. It was great to see the revival of music program at our schools. Kudos to Mr. Waldrop for his work with the kids. Music opens up such a big area of the world to kids. And, we now know, studying music sparks the learning centers of the brain, helping kids to become better able to learn and remember. Bottom line: the arts, music included, lead to a richer life, and to better learning.

Then, last week, I visited Ms. Emily Higgins’ AP Biology class and Mr. Gorey’s AP English class. In both classes I saw and heard serious, smart teaching and learning going on. I think many of us still have the (erroneous) picture of public school teaching as involving a teacher lecturing up front to bored and indifferent students sitting in rows. Nothing could be further from the truth in these classrooms. I found kids seriously engaged with their studies, and teachers acting as coaches, one-on-one at times, and sometimes with the entire class. And they were dealing with some very grown up themes in both genetics, and, through literature, in our society.

Sometimes you see ads on TV for private schools in Maine that say something like, “Here at school X we don’t just teach the simple facts, we teach kids to ask the smart questions behind the facts,” as if that isn’t being done in public schools. My visit to BRHS tells me that we are doing exactly what the private schools advertise — teaching kids both to learn the facts, but also to look at the larger questions behind them.

Every time I go and visit our schools, or attend an event like the Holiday Concert, I come away impressed with our teachers, and our kids, engaged in the important work of learning, in the arts, literature, and the sciences. It’s all right here, and I hope we continue our strong support for our public schools.

Bruce MacDonald