Letter to the Editor: Value of a well-rounded education

To the Editor:
It’s hard to believe that we are more than halfway through the school year. A high percentage of Eastern Allamakee students participate in at least one extra-curricular activity, whether it be athletics, fine arts, agriculture, or a number of things we offer. It is good to see students participate in many forms of education that include academics, athletics, and the fine arts.

The educational philosopher John Dewey once described an appropriate education as a microcosm of society, and I tend to agree with that idea. You must have many aspects of the society at large to create an experience that facilitates long-term gains. The first and foremost concern of any school district is to have an academic curriculum that is strong, with a strong teaching staff concerned about teaching and learning. Embedded in that perspective, we also must have teachers that focus on having positive student relationships.

A few years ago, there was a state high school initiative surrounding what they called “the New 3-R’s” of rigor, relevance, and relationship. That program is no longer on the forefront, but the ideas of rigor, relevance and relationship are good, and they must be strong in any long-term successful school program.

A school program must also provide a strong fine arts curriculum, as well as activities and athletic experiences. First, this helps keep a portion of students in school, and it increases overall mental wellness, not to mention our graduation rate (which hovers between 95 and 100 percent). Secondly, these programs stimulate competition, success, and failure, all of which are part of the real world, as well as other concepts such as teamwork and collaboration. It’s always nice to win, but even more so it’s good to have the foundational base of what these experiences in fine-arts and athletics can provide.

Education must always also be insightful and lead to curiosity. It is important, especially right now, to learn how to think through with facts, and how to have discourse about something appropriately and respectfully. Social media outlets, though mostly non-intentional, have inadvertently created a culture where immediate and anonymous attacks can go from anyone to anyone else on a dime, and this causes polarization and hate.

There’s high-level and low-level conversations. High-level conversations involve listening, understanding, agreeing, and disagreeing about concepts, ideas, and solutions, while lower-level conversations involve verbally and personally attacking others. Polarization stops real ideas from continuing further, and this is not a good thing for society.

These are all reasons we need to continue to offer strong academic programs with conversations on higher-level ideas where students can agree and disagree and learn how to listen and understand other perspectives. Therefore, it is so vital to continue to offer a wide range of programs that involve activities, athletics, and fine arts experiences.

Congratulations to all the students, teachers and staff at Kee Middle School, Kee High School and New Albin Elementary School as we worked through the first half of the year. I am hoping for everyone to enjoy a safe and prosperous remainder of winter as we end the second trimester and start the third and final trimester of the 2022-2023 school year.

Dr. Dale Crozier
Eastern Allamakee
Community School District and MFL/MarMac Community School District