Education: Oddly Enough

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The Independent Online
It's all Greek to the Greeks: According to a nationwide survey, nearly half of all Greeks have serious reading problems, needing help to fill out a form or understand simple written instructions. These levels are "much higher" than most other European countries, said Gerasimos Tsiokos, head of the education ministry's illiteracy department. "They were given simple tests like adding two figures or understanding an electricity bill, and if they could not do this they are functionally illiterate," Tsiokos said. The study found that while about 4 per cent of Greeks were totally illiterate, about 45 per cent were functionally illiterate. Most left school before completing the mandatory nine years.

School creep: A Utah principal crawled over a mile to school for almost three hours on his hands and knees through deep snow, making good a promise to take the unusual trek if his students read more books. "I started from my home at 7am and finished at the school around 9:45am," said Ken Luke, principal at East Elementary school in Tooele, Utah. Luke had promised earlier in the year that if the students - five years old to 11 - reached a goal of reading 150,000 pages he would crawl to school. But he didn't know what the weather would be like. "I went through four or five pairs of gloves and had insulated clothes on. Knee pads helped also," said Luke.

Teacher's pet: A showdown developed in the first-grade classroom at Pleasant Hill Elementary in California when Nancy Vinther said the class rabbit was giving her 6-year-old son, Dayne, asthma attacks. Principal Robert Sillonis recommended moving Dayne to another class. After all, the principal said, it wasn't clear that Bun-Bun was responsible for Dayne's problems. Vinther said that Dayne loved his teacher and would miss his playmates. She also complained that moving her son would send the wrong message on being sensitive to children with illnesses. Bun-Bun was moved to a different class.