Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor 6/5

Online classes

James Duenow questions who would send their children away for college when they could do it online less expensively (“A college decline?” letters, May 24). As an online English professor, I can answer that. Parents who care about the depth of learning and life experience for their children should avoid placing them in an online program.

College is more than just books and lectures. It’s a venue for children becoming mature adults, learning independence, handling their own finances and making logical decisions.

These responsibilities to learn and to acquire the abilities to communicate professionally in group activities in and out of the classroom are paramount.

I’ve learned, after 40 years in the classroom, that most entering freshmen are not yet equipped to learn online. Going from high school to online learning is a culture shock to many. It takes dedication and hard studying to learn without a teacher monitoring the classroom.

The most successful online students are those who have been out working for a few years, who see the value of an education they are paying for, not Mom and Dad, and who have had the life experience to manage time as an adult. Those who can’t do this online frequently fail.

Michael McPherson


Philosophy no waste

A May 25 letter (“College and jobs”) said that public support for a degree in philosophy is a “waste of resources” because it “will never result in employment.”

The claim is false and the advice bad. The ignorant often don’t know how ignorant they are. Studying philosophy might help them, for it is the academic field that studies what knowledge is. Engaging in the intellectual disciplines (logic, reasoning, argument evaluation, conceptual and textual analysis) that philosophy demands not only enables students to assess their own ignorance and to evaluate the rational strength of political, scientific and ethical arguments, but also it yields skills that business owners prize.

As numerous recent articles confirm (e.g., “I think, therefore I earn,” The Guardian; “Is Philosophy the Most Practical Major,” The Atlantic), business owners are crying out for employees who can write, speak and reason well, who understand how component parts of a business fit with the whole, and who have the creativity and intellectual confidence successfully to develop today’s business strategies in a complex world.

They find what they need in philosophy majors who have the ultimate transferable take-it-with-you-anywhere skill-set. A good philosophy student would have been trained to search for this evidence before publishing a letter decrying the value of a field of study (especially one from which the other academic fields have emerged).

Todd Long

Arroyo Grande

Eyes on Venus

Today, beginning at about 3:07 p.m. and continuing until sunset, something will happen that none of us will see again in our lifetimes.

Many will go about their daily routines without noticing it, but for those willing to put out a little effort to find out where they may find a place to view it, it will be quite rewarding to see. It will be the daytime viewing of another planet — Venus. It will pass in front of the sun, from our perspective.

Not everyone on our planet will see it as well as we on the West Coast, if at all. You will be able to see it with a proper filter. Don’t let your eyes be exposed to the blinding sun unprotected, and don’t directly look at it through binoculars or a telescope without proper filter protection over the front end of the telescope.

If you are lucky enough to see it through filters called H­-alpha solar filters, you will have the privilege of seeing not only the silhouette of Venus against the sun, but also the roiling surface of the sun itself, and any flares that may be exposed along the sun’s edge (known as prominences). The scale of these will instantly astound you.

Venus has a heavy atmosphere, so hot that it would melt some metals, such as lead, so thick that we can only penetrate it with radar. Life cannot survive it. Lessons on global warming can be learned from Venus.

But for most of us, this will be an opportunity to permit nature to inspire us once again, just as when we visit Yosemite, and climb near its amazing falls.

For directions to local Venus observing sites, visit CCAstronomy.org. Or call me at 466-5997.

Jim Carlisle