Letter: Education is a lot more than just the 3 R’s | VailDaily.com

Letter: Education is a lot more than just the 3 R’s

The three R’s cover an important portion of what matters. I believe it goes without saying that educators have been trained to focus on successful reading, writing and arithmetic strategies. To suggest otherwise is insulting to our teachers who work hard to make sure our students can do these basic things.

While I wholeheartedly agree that the three R’s are vital skills to obtain and master if a child is to compete in today’s workforce, I also believe it’s simplistic and naive to think that’s all they need. Students also need to learn the three C’s: compassion, courage and care. Teaching the whole child elevates and fosters a student’s full capabilities. Bottom line, educating students today is complicated.

Educating students in the 21st century is not a one-size-fits-all as some who are running for school board would have you believe. To raise and teach children who care and show compassion for others and themselves, while having the courage to learn a new language and master algebra, is a major juggling act.

This is something I have recently watched the leaders and staff at Eagle County School District confront with bravery. They are leading by example and showing their students that while it’s very important to learn myriad subjects, there is more to a successful life than solely academic achievement. I believe when a community raises a whole child — and that is what schools must do today — you need to prepare them for more than academic rigor.

A caring community takes all student needs into account and finds a way to balance them so every individual can achieve. A school board member’s job is not to dictate curriculum but rather to steer the ship through the many icebergs that can potentially get in the way. Looking at the underside of an iceberg, these are some of the things I see youth facing today: bullying, social media overuse, isolation, loneliness, food insecurity, students without a trusted adult, weak broadband, language barriers, lack of transportation, anxiety, depression, gender questioning and suicide ideation. All of these issues, and more, need to be seriously taken into account.

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If all the public schools did was focus on the 3 R’s, I’m afraid not all students would be able to achieve their full potential later in life, let alone in their present day-to-day life. Their wholeness would be lost and we have the power to prevent that.

The joint platform of Kelly Alter, Lelia Conlin, Juan Peña, Michelle Stecher and Dan Reynolds reflect 100% of the iceberg — what you see and what you sometimes can’t easily see. They support the whole child approach and so should you. I encourage you to join me in voting for them.

Carol Johnson

West Vail

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