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Education revolution needed

New book offers solutions to problems facing public schools.

by Tom Hardin

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The front cover of Howie Soucek’s new book.
Former Middlesex County resident Howie Soucek has written a new book, “Notes on Education,” that gives reasons behind the decline of the public education system over the past several decades and offers strategies and actions to reverse this trend.

Soucek is a graduate of Christchurch School and Hampden-Sydney College who taught at St. Clare Walker Middle School in Middlesex County from 1970 through 1979. His wife Linda taught at Middlesex High School during the same period. Today, the Souceks live in Franklin.

The 84-page book was published by Teach Services Inc. of Brushton, N.Y. The publisher states that Soucek’s hope in writing the book is “to light some fires of passion for effective education across our nation, with flames emanating from everyday folks at the community level—to include teachers, parents, civic leaders, members of the business community and government officials. Ideally, the book will play a small but helpful role in contributing to the initiation of a needed revolution in education in America.”

Throughout the book, Soucek stresses the need for “educational barn raisings” within communities to reverse the declining trend of public education, and he offers possible starting places for serious discussions that will lead to constructive action.

Soucek contends public school systems produce many excellent students, but “what is frightening, however, is the alarming proportion of graduates who are ill-prepared to perform well in a job, who have no concept of contributing to their community or society through intelligent civic activities and volunteerism, and who lack a sense of responsibility to instill a sense of responsibility, cooperation, diligence, perseverance, foresight and reliability in their offspring.”

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Former Middlesex residents Howie and Linda Soucek live in Franklin.
Soucek first wrote his “notes” as a series of letters on education in the 1980s. “Having done little with the letters for years, I only recently decided to publish them. And what a sad commentary it is that when I reviewed my years-old writing, I found little to change,” he wrote in the book’s introduction.

“I much enjoyed the act of teaching in the classroom and the relationship I had with the students,” said Soucek. “This was an exercise of passion for me. I purely loved them. Every problem in education I can think of I attribute to the adult community, while our children are left to be neglected, innocent victims. Children are challenging but truly wonderful to ‘work-play’ with.”

Soucek has fond memories of his teaching days at St. Clare Walker. “I was privileged to work in a highly professional work environment at the school. We received a new principal midway through my first year there—Robert Meredith. He was new to education and brought with him high expectations for success but also an openness to innovative thinking. He fostered effective, frequent communications and a truly team-oriented, participative organizational style. This matched perfectly with the staff that happened to be there at the time. We all became fellow sufferers, unified in our dedication to the children in our charge.”

“Inappropriate behavior simply must not be tolerated; worthy behavior must at least be recognized; and we must not refrain from discussing issues of character with our children. Every time we ‘look the other way’ we perform a disservice to our children and contribute to the long-range ills of our society at large.”

—Howie Soucek
In pursuing its goal of improving education, said Soucek, a community will face many obstacles. “There will be political, parental, school system, and legal challenges to overcome at every turn; for the powers of self-interest and of the status quo are immense,” he wrote. “But if we allow ourselves to continue as we have been, we will doom our children’s future—whilst blaming everyone but our individual selves all along the way.”

The chapter titles of the book include: “Organize for Instruction”; “Incentives for Performance and Teamwork”; “From Technicians to Professionals”; “Meaningful Attention Versus Mass Production”; “What Did You Expect?”; “A Real Teacher”; “Teach Them How to Learn”; “Let’s Talk About Right and Wrong”; and “Our Moral Imperative.”

“Notes on Education” can be purchased for $10.95 on Amazon.com (enter “notes on education” in the search box) or by calling Teach Services Inc. at 1-800-367-1844. Bulk pricing is also available. The book should be in bookstores in a few weeks.

Since his teaching days, Soucek has worked in the field of human relations. His wife Linda has taught at Franklin High School since 1985. They have three children. The Souceks can be emailed at .

posted 01.14.2009

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