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letters | challenges in vocational education

Essence of effective teaching is to transform even most challenging students into learners

Madison Park student Deluisa DePina worked with Joan Reissman, of the nonprofit JFY Networks, in a class at Roxbury Community College.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File 2014

Madison Park student Deluisa DePina worked with Joan Reissman, of the nonprofit JFY Networks, in a class at Roxbury Community College.

In LAST Sunday’s editorial (“A tale of two vocational schools: Worcester’s pride and Boston’s shame”) you claim that “no administrator or faculty member, no matter how talented, can run a specialized vocational school with students who show no passion for electronics, culinary arts, nursing, automotive technology, and other typical course offerings.” You endorse a selective admissions process as an antidote to student indifference.

I have no doubt that making the admissions criteria more selective would contribute to higher achievement. We certainly see this effect with some private schools. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that every day effective teachers and principals in schools across our Commonwealth do exactly what you claim is nearly impossible: They build enthusiasm, passion, and curiosity for subjects that many students initially see as boring and uninteresting.

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These educators inspire students who might start out being fearful and uninterested in mathematics, for example, and change them into learners who feel capable and motivated to learn more about geometry or algebra or prime numbers. These educators accomplish this with students who show up in their classrooms regardless of their backgrounds. This is the essence of effective teaching and leading — to transform and inspire learners.

John D’Auria

Wellesley

The writer is president of the nonprofit Teachers21.

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