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Teachers College, Columbia University
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From Our Readers

From our readers

Opinions, advice and food for thought

To Behave or Not To Behave

As an eclectic psychotherapist who uses reinforcement as well as resistance analysis, I was fascinated to read about Doug Greer's inspiring and scientifically grounded work with teaching deprived and disabled youngsters [TC Today, Spring 2007]. But Greer's final conclusion gave me pause: "DNA drives behavior, but environment changes DNA."

While I've known that environmentally sourced radiation can alter genetic material, I wasn't aware that the intensive application of behavioral teaching strategies could also modify one's genetic makeup and the benefits be transferred to the next generation-'"a notion resembling the fallacy of Lamarckism and the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Did Greer mean "environment changes behavior," or that systematic environmental interventions (like the ones he has devised) can maximize the range of potential behavioral change within the functional limits set down by DNA ?

David C. Balderston

Ed.D., 1970

English First, Please

In her article "Equity's Elephant In the Room," [TC Today, Fall 2006] Ofelia Garcia states that "The United States' treatment of its children who speak languages other than English has grown increasingly punitive, remedial and reductive." She does not cite a single fact or statistic to support this inflammatory statement.

Garcia states "Our bilingual students are penalized by standardized testing that privileges monolingual students." Does that mean that standardized tests are supposed to be provided in several Chinese dialects, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish and all of the dozens of languages now spoken by the children of immigrants? Or that standardized tests are supposed to be provided in an English so basic that even those children with a rudimentary knowledge thereof can pass?

The goal in every school should be to bring its students, both native and foreign born, to the highest level of proficiency possible in speaking, reading and writing English. There has to be a common language to keep our country as one. In other countries linguistic differences are often a source of division and discrimination.

Carol Crystle

M.A., 1970

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