Unusual Books, Rare Books, Used Books, Book World News Books, Little Magazines, Authors, and Book Collecting Subjects are featured in each issue of THE BOOKLOVER’S ANSWER,. giant bimonthly magazine for book collectors. ALSOin each issuea valuable guide to old book valuesfree catalogue offers interesting articlesaddresses of leading used book dealers. Back issues are still available. Hurry! Introductory one year subscription $2.00 The Booklover’s Answer, Webster 1 1 , New York ‘ .6…,41641 COLIFCTOkt ITEM! The Doliklaefs ilsoff ktasititrtil frsit saaw .104.14CT *V 1.0104 AP ‘I:1’4’T.. 4.:.1 044 .4 II Tva A Communication An Educational Absurdity San Marcos, Texas, public schools classify 3.6% of their students as mentally retarded, according to a recent article by Anita Brewer in the Austin American [May 26]. Mrs. Brewer states that a staff of twelve teachers is employed by the San Marcos school district to educate and train 124 “mentally retarded” pupils. This article further states that South Texas schools, which have a large population of children from Spanish speaking families, have unusually high percentages of mentally retarded children. It is further ‘ ,implied that these students, because of their SpanishAmerican background, are disadvantaged. This article is an eloquent indictment of the curriculum of Texas public schools. What is generally overlooked by Mrs. Brewer is that the general curricular orientation of San Marcos schools, as that of most Texas public school systems, violates sound pedagogical principles by forcing the Spanish-speaking child to achieve in English, a foreign language, before he has learned to communicate effectively in it. The curriculum, a lock-step arrangement, is oriented to the needs of the dominant Anglo element of the community at the expense of its Spanish-speaking members. In so being it violates a cardinal principle of curriculum development: The curriculum must be designed to meet individual needs. All individuals’ needs. The average Spanish-speaking child comes to the first grade condemned to a frustrating experience, designed to stifle his initiative and drive to succeed and to launch him on the road to failure. At the very time when his self-confidence needs to be built up and his desire to succeed developed, his culture, his language, and his antecedents are denigrated and belittled. His mother tongue, his tool of communication, is forbidden, and his pronunciation of English is all too frequently the vehicle for jokes which characterize “Pedro” as lazy and indolent. Since the Spanish-speaking child has only a sketchy knowledge of English, most schools require him to repeat the first and other grades at least twice. Most schools systematically destroy the will to achieve in their Spanish-speaking children, yet we have the gall to call them “mentally retarded.” Some schools that are attempting to solve the problem of “retardation” of Spanish speaking children have implemented pre-school programs. These are oriented to teaching 400 “words” before the child enters the first grade. By teaching this magic number of words, organizers of these courses believe that the Spanish-speaking child will be made able to achieve an elementary level of communication in English and thus will be more apt to succeed in the first grade. Administrators of these schools reveal a total ignorance of the very nature of language by orienting secondlanguage learning, in this case English, to the memorization of a designated number of words. Word learning’ is not language learning. It is, however, the development of a set of motor linguistic habits distinct from those of the mother tongue. Through the mastery of the linguistic structures of the target language the avenue is opened for the mastery of its cultural concepts. Psychologists and neurologists tell us that there is an optimum time in the individual’s life-span for learning certain skills Baytown It was noted recently with nostalgic pleasure that Charles Atlas has reached the traditional three score and ten and still, according to a recent photograph, maintains an impressively muscled physique. Mr. Atlas still looks like he has looked in a thousand million magazine pictures since far back in the Twenties, which is the earliest period I can remember reading his advertisements. “I .was a 96-pound weakling,” he confessed boldly in big black type surmounting the full-page photograph of the stern-eyed man curling that 16-inch bicep in front of fluted pectorals. Many an idle moment I spent in Leverett’s Drug Store in Memphis \(Memphis, Culture magazine. There was lots of other educational material in those magazines, too. Like features telling you that you could get rid of acne by a diet of raw potato peelings or how you could alleviate incipient baldness by learning to walk on your hands. But it was the Atlas advertisements which always drew my attention back from the most fascinating editorial topics. The one I like best was about the bully who kicked sand in the face of a spindlynecked youth who was entertaining two co-eds on the beach. Spindleneck promptly enrolled in the Atlas few-pennies-a-day plan and about a week later I hate to tell and developing certain abilities. Texas schools are indeed fortunate in that they receive the Spanish-speaking child at an optimum age to teach him English. The bi-lingual program I advocated a year ago in an article in your journal [“An Appalling Waste,” Aug. 23, 1963] is an avenue which has proved successful in other communities. I can’t help but feel that the salaries San Marcos pays its special education teachers could in part be invested in hiring bi-lingual teachers for the implementation of a sound program for the education of its Spanish-speaking children. Jacques M. P. Wilson, professor of linguistics, NDEA Summer Language Institute, Appalachian State Teachers’ College, Boone, N.C. you what happened to the bully. I never did enroll, as much as I was tempted, possibly because there were no beaches in Hall County. There was plenty of sand though, and every Spring it would usually blow into everybody’s face, whether they had taken the Atlas course or not. One boy in my class did enroll and got himself all muscled up, but about all he ever did with the muscles was demonstrate how he could pick up the hind end of a Ford car. He did this a lot, but finally we got tired of watching it, and he walked around the campus disconsolately flexing his biceps, just waiting for a bully to kick sand in his face. Years later I encountered an Atlas-type sergeant who had a magazine picture body which he would reveal happily by slipping off his fatigues whenever he was off duty, a procedure which always earned him an admiring circle of new recruits who hadn’t seen hi’m before. He used to time his furloughs so that he could go to Newark or somewhere to enter Mr. America contests. ‘Once he won fifth place in the best developed division. The rest of the time he would spend his off-duty hours humorlessly lifting weights in the post gymnasium. Nobody had ever kicked sand in his face either. I asked him. AL MELINGER July 10, 1964 15 Atlas in Memphis
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