Letter writer Isabelle Bertolotti (October 23) raises an important question that we, as a so-called modern society, have not yet engaged. What is the role of our public school teachers and, just as important, what is the role of our public schools?

Learning is hard - ask anyone who has tried to learn to play a musical instrument, master a physical activity, or even delve into advanced geometry. Learning takes time, demands practice, and involves many failures along the route. Furthermore, to a large extent, it is not the coach or the director or even the teacher who must succeed; it is the student him/herself!

Learning is a very intimate and personal journey that cannot be accomplished by anyone other than the student. While a teacher may guide, explain, demonstrate, instruct and even judge, it is the learner who is ultimately responsible. Failure in anything is, at base, failure of the learner! American philosopher John Dewey stated that learning only ends when life does; that is, humans continually learn and that is how a democratic society evolves.

Coddling learners and/or demanding that teachers become solely responsible for student success demeans the totality of the educative process and detaches the learner from his/her responsibilty to learn.

Jon G. Bradley

Associate Professor (Retired)

Education/McGill University

Email: jon.bradley@mcgill.ca

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