x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Letters to the editor consider the arguments against home schooling

Readers write letters addressing home schooling, cutting down shade trees and India's cricket win.

Readers share their reactions to the Indian victory in the finals of the Cricket World Cup. Rajanish Kakade / AP
Readers share their reactions to the Indian victory in the finals of the Cricket World Cup. Rajanish Kakade / AP

The story Home-schooling in the UAE: Parents teach to give their kids an edge (March 29) was a very good article, and very controversial. I understand why parents can get frustrated with schools and have been horrified as well as in awe of teachers I've worked with over the years.

But home schooling doesn't acknowledge the difference between being a parent and being a teacher. The latter is a qualified professional with specific subject knowledge and is trained to teach and assess a child in the context of their peers. Parents, quite rightly, have a different role and, unless they have experience of young people en masse, they simply don't have the subject knowledge to teach and challenge bright students or the understanding of age-specific issues facing young people today.

Parents can also have large misconceptions about where their child's abilities fit in the context of their peers (both over and underestimating their attainment). The socialisation issue is always a big problem.

Even with all the academic and professional qualifications and experience I have accrued over the years, I would not home educate my children. I am very clear that I am unable to provide them with a full educational experience by myself and that they need to be taught to survive in a world independent of me. Parents do not actually always know what's best for their child, no matter how well intentioned. There are also sadly but obviously parents who are not well intentioned and home schooling increases the vulnerability of their children immeasurably.

Tallullah B, Abu Dhabi

Spare the shade trees of Abu Dhabi

In the article Residents struggle to get to the root of tree-chopping in the capital (April 1), it was not mentioned that with the help of The National who provided me with a contact at Abu Dhabi Municipality, and the cooperation of the municipality crew who were sent out and ordered to cut down our trees, all nine mature eucalyptus trees next to my house were spared.

These trees stand at 10 to 15 metres high and are at least 30 years old. Had I not been home that day when the crew arrived, these trees would now be history. I urge everyone to speak to the crews before the cutting begins and demand that they stop. Request to speak to the superviser of the crew and make your concerns known to him. If that is not sufficient, ask that the work be halted until the matter can be resolved by someone more senior in the department.

My concerns were elevated by the engineer who came out to my house the next day and agreed that these trees should not be cut down, only pruned. I was even allowed to decide which branches would be trimmed and which would be left alone. He told me that his staff had been given incorrect instructions.

The guys tasked with doing the cutting were very relieved and it was clear that this was a very unpleasant job for them. I never thought I'd see the day when I would be considered a tree-hugger, but it felt good to save these trees and I will do it again. I am grateful to the Abu Dhabi Municipality for taking my concerns seriously and I encourage everyone confronted with the possible loss of their shade trees to take a stand. In a country where temperatures can top 50 degrees celsius in the summer, can we really advocate energy efficiency and tree annihilation in the same breath?

Linda Sholz, Abu Dhabi

Reactions to India's cricket win

Congratulations to team India for winning the glorious Cricket World Cup. Special thanks to captain MS Dhoni for his brilliant innings and superb captaincy which guided India to victory. The joy and celebrations across India were unprecedented. It was a great historical moment to be cherished for a long time to come.

Muneer Ahmad, Abu Dhabi

A well-deserved victory for India and Sachin Tendulkar for winning the Man of the Match award with a score of 85. On the political side, I hope the invitation given to Pakistani leaders for the semi-finals will help in improving the bi-lateral relationship. It is for the diplomats and the politicians to make sure that they continue with positive steps forward towards prosperity and growth of the region.

Mohammed Sadullah Khan, Saudi Arabia

The concluding speech of K Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, was impressive. "When you look at this Indian team, anything less than 350 is not enough. The way India played they deserved the tag of favourites," he declared graciously.

It was the finest example of great sportsmanship, dignity and grace under stress. In complimenting the Indian team so very generously for its batting prowess, he emerged a perfect gentleman and a sportsman of great character.

MS Dhoni saved and won the final match for India. He rescued India when all the chips were down and fought from the front. He demonstrated clearly why he is, so deservedly, the captain of the Indian team. He has a cool head, a strong bat and great humility.

Rajendra K Aneja, Dubai