Mailbag: Language immersion benefits future

Every night, after I’ve given my 5- and 3-year-old daughters a bath and read them a story, I turn out the light and the pair gives me a sleepy “bis Morgen.”

If my husband or I were German, or we lived in Munich and not Los Angeles, I doubt their valediction would delight me so much.

But hearing my children say, “See you tomorrow” in a foreign language always both tickles and reassures me that we made the right decision to enroll our oldest in Franklin Elementary School’s German immersion program.

Quietly and without much fanfare, a generation of bright, young minds is finding its voice — its second, to be exact — in the Spanish, German and Italian immersion programs of a Glendale Unified California Distinguished School, the district’s only 2010 Blue Ribbon School nominee.

California’s budget woes have forced us all to sacrifice, but the teaching of our children cannot — and, as Franklin Elementary shows — need not pay the price for ballot-box missteps or dysfunctional governance.

The dedicated faculty of Franklin Elementary provides parents the opportunity to give their children a private-school education at a public-school price.

I’m so grateful for Franklin Elementary, and would urge all parents interested in showing their children new worlds to check out Glendale’s little U.N. for themselves.

CARIN HOFFMAN

La Crescenta

Kids feel trapped in education

Dan Kimber engagingly and accurately puts his finger on another great failure of our educational system (“Nurturing every student’s uniqueness,” Feb. 26). Maybe, in fact, it is not another great failure but the same one.

It is called lopsided left-brain education. It diminishes creative spirit and individuality. It focuses on half-brain learning of material that holds no interest for students because there is no tangible application for it in their lives. Bright, young minds are being bored to distraction, and energetic young bodies implode with inactivity and cumulative stress.

Stress is a survival response when a student feels trapped with no way out of a situation. Fight or flight is the stress response, and nowhere in our society is the stress response more obvious than in our schools — unless it is our prisons.

More and more violence is the fight response. More and more alcohol and drugs are the flight response.

Schools form coalitions to fight the growing substance abuse problem among bright young students. Unknowingly they jump on the same half-brain train. More controls. More counselors. More campus police. No off-campus lunch. Voluntary drug testing. They miss the solutions because no one asks the right question — why do kids want more drugs?

Kimber clarifies the cause of the alarming increase in substance abuse among teens by exposing an enormous imbalance in our schools. Kids want alcohol and other drugs to alter their minds.

The anesthetic effects reduce, even eliminate left-brain controls. No worries about school, parents or rules. Kids experience the sensations of right-brain fun and freedom — a “sense of self” — a validation of their uniqueness, uninhibited emotional and creative expression.

Until there is an understanding and implementation of basic brain balancing in our schools and homes, kids will continue to reach for a quick fix for feeling stuck in a half-brain system that continues to tighten its grip.

Every year, the faces in my driving under the influence schools are younger and younger, and substance abuse problems are bigger and bigger.

Buckminster Fuller was once asked what he attributed his genius to. He said, “I’m not sure there is any such thing as genius. I think some of us are just less damaged than others.”

Kimber is a lonely advocate for damage control in a damaged system. Right on, Dan!

JOHN A. MARSHALL

Glendale

Editor’s note: Marshall is the author of “Break Free! from 1/2 Brain Thinking.”


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