Letter: Students aren’t learning basic skills | Opinion

To the editor:

There have been two letters to the editor published recently by The Daily News, both of whose authors write of their concerns about curriculum in our schools.

As a studio piano teacher in Newburyport and, more recently, Salisbury, I would like to add my concerns as I have seen a steady decline in students’ basic skills over the past 30 years.

In my opinion, reading, reading comprehension, writing (both printing letters and numbers and being able to write in cursive), basic math (addition and subtraction) and sequencing of information (for example, being able to name the days of the week or the months of the year, in order) are the most basic skills which are simply not being learned in our local schools.

It should be noted that my students attend the Newburyport, Amesbury, Pentucket and Triton public schools.

Some examples of the problems I see include:

Asking a 10-year-old to point to the note he will play first in the piece I assigned him. He was unable to do so.

Having a 9-year-old read the directions in her theory book out loud to me, and then turning to me and asking, “So, what do I do?”

Asking an 11-year-old to do a little work in her theory book while I had to leave the room for a moment, and coming back to see that she had not followed the directions.

Having an 8-year-old ask the number of days until the recital: I asked her what day it is today (she had no idea) and then, once I told her it was Wednesday, figuring out how many more days until the Sunday. afternoon recital. (She was not able to name the days of the week.)

Asking a 7-year-old to describe notes in her piece as going up, going down or repeating. She was unable to do so.

Asking a student to discern whether two notes are the same or different.

Saying to a 9-year-old, “Two plus blank equals four,” and have her response be to look at me and shrug.

The teenager who couldn’t read the assignment I had written for her because she can’t read cursive.

I think that basic skills are very much missing from our students’ curriculum, and would heartily welcome the opportunity to speak with any school committee members to see what changes can be made.




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