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Why California schools need more assignments like the 4th grade 'mission project'

Why California schools need more assignments like the 4th grade 'mission project'
The bell tower of the San Gabriel Mission in 2014. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your wish of "good riddance" to the California mission-modeling project assigned to thousands of fourth-graders misses an important point: Learning to create things with your hands is an important part of a full education. ("Good riddance to California's 'mission project,'" editorial, Sept. 19).

Where some see "questionable educational value," I see a type of learning that shouldn't be presumed to be less valuable simply because it doesn't come from books and paper, or, increasingly, a computer screen.

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I was dismayed when I learned that the tactile and visual experience of fingerpainting has all but been eliminated from kindergarten classrooms, replaced with math and writing worksheets. Now, I am dismayed by The Times deriding the mission-building project as "messy."

Though painting, modeling and building may take over the dining room table, they teach children an important lesson: that they are capable of creation. In an increasingly digital world, maintaining a curriculum that includes touching, manipulating and making physical objects is more necessary than ever.

Linda Williamson, Granada Hills

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To the editor: Oh, the horror, the planning, the mess. My kids have to build a California mission. No, wait — I have to, again?

On second thought, I never built one. My parents constructed it for me.

I get it. The California state curriculum is getting revenge on us parents. We never did this project years ago. This is our first time.

Richard Javitt, Palos Verdes Estates

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