From Our Listeners

Letters: 'Zuul The Terrordog' And New Graduates

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NPR's Neal Conan reads from listener comments about previous shows including living with cancer, mainstreaming special education kids, and advice for new graduates. And "Zuul the Terrordog" sings along to the Talk of the Nation theme.


It's Tuesday and time to read from your comments.

We spoke with feminist literary scholar Susan Gubar about her ovarian cancer and her book "Memoir of a Debulked Woman" last week. Carolyn(ph) heard our conversation: Thank you for saying it isn't necessary to fight to the end, she wrote, and that quality of life is also important. My husband was diagnosed with glioblastoma a year ago, another cancer with a very bad prognosis. We have had a wonderful year together, and he's now in hospice and at peace. What it comes down to is personal choice. This is his life and his choice.

Our discussion about the needs of special ed students and whether or not they should be mainstreamed prompted this email from Diana Langdon(ph): Because I taught special reading and language arts, my brother asked me to observe his daughter's fourth grade class. Less than half the time was devoted to the full class by the teacher. The rest of the hour she spent trying to keep one emotionally- and behaviorally-challenged child from jumping up and down on his desk and running around the room. She continued, it sickened me to see that 23 children lost half of their real education because one child occupied so much time. Mainstreaming cheats our regular students.

But Leandrea Boyer(ph) in Lake Orion, Michigan, urged us to look at success stories. I'm a special education teacher and work in a very collaborative building and district, she wrote. We take a team approach that not only looks at the needs of the child, but the needs of the regular education teachers. We have the benefit of being able to put highly-motivated and quality paraprofessionals in those classrooms who can help the teachers, the special-needs students and the regular ed students. We also strive to help students transition to adult lives through post-secondary planning and advocacy through outside agencies. I'm getting a little weary of everyone blaming the teachers for every problem.

Author Charles Wheelan gave us 10 pieces of advice he wished somebody had told him at graduation. Aaron Rosenthal(ph) wrote to add: What I wish I had been told and what I honestly think graduates need to hear is that you're not that special. Treat people with respect, he continued, do what you feel is right and try to think about how things look to other people. If you can do that, they'll probably end up being a truly special person.

If you have a correction, comment or a question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. Our address is Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

But finally, something we found on Twitter, Zuul the Terrordog. His owners leave him at home with the radio on, and he's developed a fondness for the theme song of a certain radio program.


CONAN: If you're on Twitter, you could follow us there, @totn. You don't have to sing all the words.

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