In response to Betsey Timm’s thoughtful piece on innovation in education (Maine Voices, “Innovative education will prepare Maine’s students for the future,” Aug. 31):

Although her call to innovation is certainly an essential component of educating the future Maine work force, it must be balanced by a broader perspective on the purpose of an education.

If education were only concerned with producing highly skilled workers in particular fields, then Ms. Timm’s endorsement of Casco Bay High School’s expeditionary learning model would be a sound solution to the problems she poses.

But schools do not merely manufacture laborers; schools help to nurture and form human beings. If the ultimate purpose of a human being is not merely to work, then viewing an education as solely a conduit of work force preparation is grossly insufficient. Schools educate whole people.

One enormous challenge for education in Maine is to balance the differing virtues of a multitude of educational models. Schools and their teaching philosophies differ just as children themselves differ. From this perspective, Maine is at a distinct disadvantage in its school system — both public and private — because of its small size and geography. Compared to the metropolitan areas of Boston and New York, Maine simply does not possess enough students in concentrated areas to sustain as competitive and diverse an educational market.

In order to educate the whole person Maine schools must collaborate in order to take full advantage of the range of opportunities that already exist for students. Casco Bay High School’s progressive curriculum can supplement the more traditional model of Cheverus High School; some young women may thrive at Catherine McAuley, but need exposure to curriculum opportunities at Deering.

Members of Maine’s small school community should see one another as partners rather than competitors. No one educational model meets all of the needs of a child. It is an affront to his or her fullness as a person to claim otherwise.

Rebecca Krier is a Maine native who lives in New Haven, Conn., and teaches at an independent girls’ school.