Letter to Woodbury Principal Yates

Dear Dr. Yates,

I would like to express my feelings about having Chinese once a week instead of Social Studies.  I’m concerned that this extra Chinese class is a bad way to spend our time.

As a principal, you must know that our class time is limited.  We only have a few hours in the day, and it’s hard to get everything done.  But it may not be the best use of our time to have Chinese instead of Social Studies.

I’d first like to say that Social Studies is a very important subject.  The lessons are very well thought out, and we learn so much.  Our teachers have all their lessons planned out and know exactly what we need to learn.  There’s a very good curriculum, and the classes are interesting and the classes are interesting and well thought out.

It’s a different story with Chinese.  I understand why you want us to have another Chinese class.  It’s impossible to learn a language if you only use it once every other week.  But I don’t think this extra class will do us any good, for there are a few glitches in the way Chinese is run at Shaker, and Woodbury in particular.

We don’t learn.  Watching You Tube videos, doing crafts, and playing Chinese games on the computer isn’t going to help us speak Chinese.  You might pick up a few words here and there, but no one actually knows what they mean.  This is a big problem if you want to teach children how to speak a language.  Also, even if we knew what the words meant, it probably wouldn’t help us to know how to sing ‘My thankful heart’.  We want to learn how to speak Chinese, not sing songs!

This is another big difference between Chinese and Social Studies.  In Social Studies, we learn many useful things, like what the 50 states are, what the 13 colonies were, and where the Rocky and Appalachian mountains are.  These are things we could really use during our lifetime, whereas when are we ever going to sign a song about colorful lanterns?

Another thing is that Chinese lessons aren’t planned very well, whereas Social Studies lessons are.  In Chinese, normally half the class falls asleep.  In Social Studies, everyone is alert and ready to learn.  In Chinese, we aren’t learning anything that may one day help us be bilingual.  In Social Studies, we’re learning things that will educate us in the history of our country and what’s going on in our world.

I’d like to point out a few other things about Chinese.  Firstly, I’ve heard that China pays for us to learn Chinese.  Is this true?  If so, they should know that, instead of making kids want to learn Chinese and giving them a good foundation, they’ve turned mostly everybody against the language.  Is that really what they’re paying us for?  Because everybody’s going to quit Chinese once they reach middle school if the lessons keep up like this.

So because of the points, I don’t believe this extra Chinese class is going to help us learn Chinese, because the curriculum isn’t very good.  We should be having Social Studies instead, because this is a class with a good curriculum and everyone can learn.

You may be wondering if everyone feels this way about Chinese.  They do.  I’ve even had a few kids sign my letter to prove it.

I’ll now give you my final thoughts on Chinese and Social Studies.

First off, Social Studies is a good subject that we should have every day.  We shouldn’t be deprived of this great class for Chinese.  Think about it.

Secondly, my thoughts about Chinese.  I think we should either stop it, or change a few things about how it is run.  Chinese should A) be interesting enough for the students to get involved, B) have a steady curriculum and planned classes so that we keep learning new and important things, C) have confident teachers, preferably with experience running the class, and D) have some way to make sure that we’re learning useful things.  Because really, how much do we need Chinese?  Is it really important enough for you to waste and hour of Social Studies?

Please think about the complaints and concerns of the students of Woodbury Elementary.  Because really, Social Studies is much more important than Chinese, especially the way Chinese is currently run.  And do try to make some changes in the way Chinese is run, or stop it entirely.

Thank-you for considering our concerns.  As the principal, we thought you would like to know our opinion.

*Editor’s note: 80 Woodbury students signed this letter before it was presented to Woodbury Elementary School Principal Randall Yates.  They were removed to protect the privacy of the students who signed.

To view the story which discusses the context of the letter, click here: https://www.shakerite.com/cover-story/2012/03/20/ib-brings-world-language-to-elementary-schools-but-social-studies-pays-the-price/

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