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Where was Other Side of Diallo Story; Kudos for Education Stories; For Adolescents, Bigger is not Better

Where was Other Side of Diallo Story?
What in the world is going on at college?

That, I believe is what my revered and highly regarded professor of history would have asked. As I recall, Professor Paul Fullam emphasized to his students in the 1940s that there always are two sides to every issue . . . and the truth most times is somewhere in the middle!

Apparently that is not so today at Colby.

Case in point. The appearance on campus and your coverage of Kadiatou Diallo's allegation that her son, Ahmed, was shot to death by New York police because "he was a black man."

Following Professor Fullam's admonition, let me provide another perspective and different look at the tragic death of Mr. Diallo. I quote from a story in The Washington Post, May 28, 2001. "The four policemen who fatally shot unarmed Amadou Diallo will not be punished, but will not be allowed to carry guns immediately," Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said yesterday. " . . . Kerik accepted the recommendations of two police investigative panels, concluding that the officers acted within departmental guidelines. The panel said the officers believed their lives were in danger because they thought Diallo had a gun. . .

"The officers were acquitted of criminal charges last year, and the Justice Department declined to pursue a civil rights case against them "

So, you see, Professor Fullam was right. His concept of teaching his students "to think" . . . not "how to think" . . . has stood me in good stead as an honored and respected newspaperman and documentary motion picture and television producer.

Too bad it no longer is fashionable in the new millennium of Mayflower Hill.

Cloyd G. Aarseth '46
Sterling, Va.

Editor's note: The writer is referring to an excerpt from Kadiatou Diallo's speech at Colby that was printed in Colby magazine.

Kudos for Education Stories

Congratulations on [the] feature articles in the spring 2001 issue of Colby. They were unfailingly interesting, moving and important. You gave us a look at what improving education really means.

Brad Greeley '60

Devon, Pa.

Remembering Ben

we would like to thank Professor Sandy Maisel for the beautiful article he wrote about our dear friend Ben Ling, a 1998 Colby graduate who passed away in March ("Ben Ling's Life," Spring 2001 Colby). since that time, Ben's friends and family have worked to establish a memorial scolarship fund to support a Colby student internship in Washington, D.C. In June, several of us ran as part of the Ben Ling Team in the National Race for the Cure and followed that with the First Annual Ben Ling Memorial BBQ. These efforts raised over $1,000 toward the scholarship, and we would like to do even more. contributions can be made to Colby College (Attention: Ben Ling Memorial Fund) and sent to the Development office, Waterville, ME 04901. We feel it's a fitting tribute to Ben, a devoted student who was passionate about government and public policy. Ben would take great pride in helping fellow Colby students work in Washington.

Lizzie Ivry '98 and Chris Coakley '98

Washington, D.C.

For Adolescents, Bigger is not Better

For five years I was in Prague, Czech Republic, where I had the task of building an upper-school program (9-12) onto the existing K-8 international school there. I returned to the U.S. to become the founding head of Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, and I have been extremely busy these past two years. We have grown from 37 students in our first year to 100 in this our second year. Next year we anticipate over 150 students in grades K-8. We are an all-boys school established as a brother school to Stuart Country Day School in Princeton [N.J.].

I have long felt that at some time, perhaps the 1950s or the 1960s, the business model of economies of scale was falsely applied to schools. We began combining smaller schools into large regional schools. This happened especially at the middle and upper-school levels, where it has had the strongest negative effect. Adolescents need to identify with something larger than themselves. They need to be a part of something. They do not need anonymity.

Yet that is what larger schools gave/give to more and more of them. Yes, the larger schools have larger budgets, libraries and other facilities, but where there once were four or five student governments, drama clubs, yearbook staffs, teams for each sport, etc., there is now only one, giving only a select few the opportunity to participate and leaving most in the role of spectator. Add this to the other trends that make us more passive: TV, electronic music reproduction (one used to have to make music), movies, etc., and the result is that we have increased the potential for alienation in adolescence. Adolescence is a time when individuals are searching for identity, and alienation is the last thing that they need. Unfortunately, other changes in our culture such as the rising number of single-parent families or families where both parents work have also increased the potential for alienation. In a smaller school it is easier for a student to be known by a faculty that communicates about the kids that they know. That knowledge makes it more likely that some intervention will come if a student is known to be having difficulties. Even more important, that knowledge is more likely to result in the many varied types of intervention that might lead to greater growth in that student.

This is why I think the single most effective step towards strengthening U.S. education would be to drastically reduce the size of schools. It is interesting to note that most of our "troubles" are in middle and upper schools. Elementary schools tend to be smaller. Another step I would take is to stop the growth of separate middle schools. I think that a K-8 program gives the older students an opportunity to act as leaders and models for the younger students. The institution of a middle school concept almost seems to validate the self-absorption that can be a hallmark of adolescence (a bad hallmark in my opinion).

Olen Kalkus '76

Princeton, N.J.

Editor's note: Kalkus's letter was a response to a Colby poll on education policy. Some responses were printed in the Spring 2001 Colby.

Interesting Issue

Just a note to tell you that I think that this issue of Colby (spring 2001) is the most interesting one that I have read.

Jean O' Brien Perkins '46

Phippsburg, Maine


Diversity Call Renewed: Students, President Bro Adams, faculty and others join in effort to appreciate and accentuate differences.
Making Waves: An inside look at the news you love to hear--from Colbians.
A Simple Feast: Wylie Dufresne '92 is one of the hottest chefs in New York City.
President's Page: President Bro Adams on the court and affirmative action.
Commencement 2001
Alumni Reunion 2001

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