A Few Letters

Monday Musings” for Monday January 27, 2014

Volume IV, No. 4/160



By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*

Letter to the Editor, Time magazine:

Bruce Feiler’s  otherwise outstanding piece “The Crescent and the Cross” unfortunately lacked the essential element of including the Jews in the equation. The piece should have been “Crescent, Cross and the Star of David”. To achieve ultimate peace we need to include all children of Abraham, the Jews, Christians and Muslims. We have beautiful examples of success in 12th century when Moses Maimonides of Cordoba (1135-1204) the brilliant Jewish clinician, Rabbi, theologian-scholar and personal physician to the Caliph, and Muslim polymath Ibn Rushd (Averroes 1126-1198) and many Christian thinkers and teachers who worked together giving to the humanity the gift of convivencia.  We can do it again, and Feiler should have given us that historical perspective as a head start.

Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA

Front Page story, N&O, Teachers and Education

Letter to The Editor:

Thomas Jefferson, in my view, the only “education” President in our 235 years, in a letter/treatise written in the early 1780’s expressed his concerns about the education of America’s children. He suggested to have an effective experience in transferring knowledge, it takes a student willing to learn, a teacher competent and knowledgeable willing to teach, and a safe place to conduct the activity. He did not say you have to have a super-bloated bureaucracy, marble palaces to house the bureaucrats, and untold number of three-piece- suited briefcase carrying consultants to effect the transfer of knowledge.  He did not say anything about the role of the federal government and all the “Titles” glibly rolled off the tongues of the consultants and the bureaucrats, and he did not say anything about per pupil spending as a measure of success. The public school ratings of several states with the highest per pupil spending including NY, Washington, DC, and California are in the basement. I do not understand why we continue to throw money at all the social ills and that includes education.

We really need some revolutionary and critical thinking to re-design the educational system in this country and go back to what Thomas Jefferson prescribed. While I respect and empathize with the plight of our teachers and their threatened employment, I think the entire system is bloated, inefficient and in many instances counter-productive. Seeing the picture of children in the front page of N&O, above fold, exploited and used for the benefit of a few, is not good journalism either.


Letter to the Editor, N&O

Promulgation and promotion of digital learning, and creation DigiLearn are all meritorious (N&O, January 23, 2014).  But idealizing DigiLearn as a powerful instrument that nurtures imagination as opposed to memorization that discourages imagination is a disservice. This view is scientifically flawed and untenable. In neuroscience and neurobiology, we know that those areas of the brain, including the limbic system and association cortex and nucleus coeruleus that are responsible for memory and storing of information are strengthened by memorizing facts. The same centers are also responsible for strengthening the power of imagination, creativity and innovation. These centers work together to enhance both memory and imagination. Memorization complements and enhances imagination. Please do not malign memorization and do not deprive our children from receiving the gift of knowledge through activating the memory centers of their brain. All the computers and artificial intelligence floating around will never replace memorizing epic poems of Homer, Dante, Faust and Milton.



*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.


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