Back to the Basics in Education

Recently I was playing a game of spelling with my eight-year-old granddaughter, Hannah, while she was visiting me.  It didn’t take me long to realize that some of the words I was calling out to her were too easy, as she blurted out their spelling so quickly. And so, I decided to challenge her with a big word - - -ARITHMETIC.  To my amazement, she said:  “What is that?”  Now, the fact that Hannah couldn’t spell that big word did not concern me.  What bothered me was that going into the third grade, she had never heard the word Arithmetic.

Another skill game I played with Hannah that day was in writing.  I asked her to write me a short note so that I could keep a copy of her handwriting for years to come.  She said, “Can I print it?  I don’t know how to write in cursive.”  By now, I was wondering, “Have The Three R’S --- Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic --- been forgotten in today’s educational system?”

As a former educator, it disturbs me that some of the basics in education seemingly are not being carried forth that had once proven to be a solid foundation for children long after they reached adulthood.

For example:

  1. Can the teenagers working in the stores figure out the correct change if the computerized cash register was not available to tell them the amount?
  2. Can the child who knows all about text messaging write a coherent paragraph?
  3. Are practical skills being taught to kids who are struggling academically or are they being drilled to pass national math and English test?  What will happen to these kids when they try to find a job?
  4. Can the child who might make an A in history recite The Pledge of Allegiance?
  5.  What about prayer?  Thanks to Madalyn O’Hair and the Supreme Court ruling in l963, prayer no longer exists. To the generation that has grown up without having the privilege of having your teacher say a prayer for you, or even read a short devotion at the beginning of the day, I offer my sincere regrets at what you missed.  

May I emphatically say that this post was not about slamming teachers and the education system as a whole.  As I said, I am a former educator myself, so I have the highest regard for those in my profession.

This is about a system, or even a culture that I believe has become unbalanced in its efforts to keep up with modern technology, and also be political correct in interpreting the Constitution.  As a result, in my opinion, I feel we have left some of very basic fundamental principles in education and morality behind.

Back to my granddaugher, Hannah. Much to my delight and her parents, she is an avid reader and spends hours in her room surrounded by books. You can thank a teacher for that.