Assignment for Schools: TEACH

Fandango’s Provocative question #104:
What do you think is the one subject (or thing) that should be taught in school that isn’t?

Since this touches on one of my big concerns, I’ll post a response. The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning, ASSIGNMENT, should fit into this topic quite nicely.

One day I was checking out at the local supermarket and the clerk asked if I’d like to donate some money toward the literacy program in local schools. “To help students learn to read.”

I was puzzled. “Isn’t that what they do in school?” I asked. She looked at me blankly; maybe she thought I was, like, totally out of it – which I am when it comes to today’s education.

Another time a friend told me that her niece was in Grade Three and couldn’t even spell the word “ARE.” She only knew the text-speak “R.” Fifteen years ago I listened to a group of about twenty grown-in-Canada adults under thirty puzzle over what country Ottawa is in.

For the past century or so, our schools have been places to try out social experiments in education. One of these was to eliminate phonics. Ontario, thirty-some years back, went even further and abolished the teaching of grammar, because having to obey rules hinders the free flow of the student’s thoughts. “We want them to be creative, not slowed down by following all the rules.”

A few years ago a teen told me students aren’t “on the same page” when it comes to studying literature. That is, there’s no novel to study and assess together. Students pick a book they want to read and then discuss it in class. Since no one else has read the same book, do you hear any other opinion than your own?

Back in 1987 the Southam News Agency shocked us all with the results of their nation-wide study on literacy in Canada: 24% of Canadians are functionally illiterate. To determine “literacy” the subjects were given reading and writing assignments as well as having to read bank statements, time schedules, and calculate the change you’d get at a store.

Immigrant or native-born didn’t make much difference. One of every three Grade 8 graduates and one of every twelve Grade 12 grads were functionally illiterate in day-to-day affairs. The study found that many students entering universities had to take remedial reading classes.

A study done in 1989 shows that 20% of Canadians have strong literacy skills. This is a diverse group of people who exhibit a broad range of reading skills and various strategies for dealing with complex material. These people can meet most reading demands and handle new reading challenges.

A report in 2020 laments that, although public interest in literacy was strong between 1980 and 2000… “Against this background, it is surprising that the Canadian literacy infrastructure was subsequently largely dismantled.”
From a report by the European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, Vol.11, No.1, 2020, pp. 109-125.

Apart from the need to teach better Reading, Writing, Grammar, Literature, and Math skills in Canadian schools, I think our children need to learn some HISTORY. Not the dates part so much, but basic concepts of social history: something about the Colonial days, Victorian Times, the Wars, the Roaring Twenties, the Dirty Thirties, the Cold War.

I wish our children could learn enough history to help them understand how other people have lived on this earth and gone through tough times, too. That people once entertained different ideas, upheld various ideals that were valid. That peer pressure is nothing new. That Covid-19 isn’t the worst plague ever. I’d like to see them get a good general history of the world that would bring them through time to where we are now. It would bring them down to earth and ground them – and hopefully generate more appreciation for our privileged era.

That Beautiful Blank Page!

All set for my response to the latest writing prompts:
Ragtag Daily PromptFRESH
Word of the Day ChallengeRESOLUTION
Fandango’s One-Word ChallengeADORN
Your Daily Word ChallengeRENEW

Image by StockSnap — Pixabay

Doesn’t everybody love New Year’s Day? That sense of leaving the past behind — especially past failings — and starting fresh. The blank sheet on which we hope to write this year’s goals –and later adorn the list with check marks for “DONE.”

Be more patient. Reconnect with someone. Lose weight. Be more faithful in posting on the blog. Paint that picture. Finish that book. Renew memberships. De-clutter the house. What are your goals for 2021?

Last week I announced one of my goals: having scrolled through my Amazon account and seeing all the books I either haven’t read yet or read and forgotten, without adding stars or writing a review, I’ve resolved to go through the list and deal with each one before I BUY ONE MORE BOOK. I’m happy to report that I’ve read one and almost finished the second. I deleted the first; it was 3-star Okay, but I’ll never read it again so why let it clutter up my e-reader.

Another goal I’ve been working at: go through my e-mails, check out the ones I haven’t yet opened and delete last year’s unimportant e-mails.

Last night I contemplated giving my blog a fresh new look, so I checked out the themes offered by WordPress. But when all was said and done, I decided to keep the one I have for the time being. Some wise soul once said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’ll go with that. I’ll rather adorn my blog with a new Home Page, header and background color.

Although I’ve already erred by leaving a rather political comment on Mr Bump’s blog this morning, I’ve resolved to avoid political discussions and not offer my two-cents’ worth re: same. There are lots of positive things to write about. Politically, the world is going to wrack and to ruin. Do I need to say more on that subject? 😉

Yes, I have a book I want to finish — several, in fact. And ones I want to write. Will this be the year? There’s also my tub of miscellaneous scribblings waiting to be keyed into computer files. And sewing projects to finish.

One of my biggest dreams is to paint. I’ll never do anything beautiful, but even if I can squeeze some paint onto a canvas and swirl it around to resemble some abstract sort of flowers, I’ll be happy. In 2019 I bought a couple of canvases and acrylic paints — but painting didn’t happen. Will this be the year, or will there always be too many other things more pressing?

I’d better quit… My blank page is getting full! Let’s see what all I get checked off in the coming twelve months. 🙂

A Few Tears Shed…

Yesterday I wrote about my own health issues and the uncertainty of life. Today I’m shedding a few tears, and yet rejoicing, for a man who’s bravely faced over twenty-four years of uncertainty.

With one last puff, a flickering candle has blown out in this world. We all knew the end was near for blogger Bill Sweeney; he told us that in his last post. Now this morning, With A Heavy Heart, his wife Mary informs us that he’s passed away.

When he was first diagnosed, the doctors gave him about five years. Now, after over twenty-four years of battle with ALS — aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease — this warrior has been called home from the battlefield.

“O Death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?”
I Corinthians 15:55

When he first entered the battle against this foe, he reached out for the hand of God and grasped it, and found it firm to the end. Though Bill slowly lost his physical abilities and was finally completely paralyzed, still he carried on faithfully doing what he could. Via the internet, using a computer program that tracked his eye movements, he continued to share the good news of God’s love and encourage people around the globe.

He inspired us all to be more serious about our beliefs and more faithful to our Lord. All those who’ve read his posts will miss his sensible and gracious thoughts.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

II Timothy 4:7-8

Glimpse Into The Future

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is the question: What next?
The Word of the Day Challenge: HOPE
Of course we all hope that what comes next will be good. 🙂 I hope better days and many joys come to you all in 2021.

WHAT NEXT?

There’s an ocean-depth of possibility in this one! What next for today? For this week? Next year? My next goal or project? Health issues? Future moves?

For today my goal is to tidy up the house and continue my shuffle through drawers and closets, ferreting out things I don’t need or want anymore. That will be my week’s goal as well, plus I have a couple of shifts at the Seniors’ Home.

Long term NEXT? My thoughts have been going to health issues lately, particularly since I read Texas Writer’s blog post: REFLECT about dealing with his mother’s dementia and his own Parkinson’s. He admits that he’s facing a gradual decline, but has a commendably upbeat attitude.

When I was twenty-seven I discovered a walnut-sized, rock-hard lump, and the diagnosis was quickly made: CANCER. My future plans evaporated. You know, when you hear the C word it usually goes with fatal. Women regularly die of breast cancer. And when I thought I was going to die, my what next looked pretty grim. But the doctors acted fast: I was in surgery within a week, followed by a heavy dose of chemo-therapy, so it wasn’t “Goodbye cruel world” after all.

I had the same experience about six years ago when the doctor told me I had leukemia. Bam! Right out of the water. Leukemia is a killer! I didn’t know there were different kinds, so was hoping I still had a few months to put things in order.

When my mom turned seventy, she died of a massive heart attack. My younger sister had a heart attack a dozen years ago – and thankfully survived. My sister Rose, five years younger, died of cancer a year ago. Far too young!

And reading Texas Writer’s post reminded me of my birth father’s last years. Dad was an incredibly healthy little fellow. Worked hard all his life; even into his seventies he could easily walk the seventeen miles between Moose Jaw and his sister’s home at Belle Plaine. But his arm started to shake – I remember how, in time, it twitched uncontrollably. Parkinson’s. I remember holding his hand just to keep it from shaking for a few minutes — and wondering if this genetic flaw would someday affect me, too.

What’s next? I think COVID has tossed this question into most of our lives. Not that we expected to die, but it’s brought home to each one of us how suddenly everything can head south. Not just our own life, but humanity as a whole can almost come to a screeching halt.

From personal experience I can say this reality check is at the same time a horrible and a wonderful experience. We’re stopped in our tracks and reminded how precious – and how fragile – life is. How quickly living can turn to dying.

And Stats Mean ZIP

According to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Stats, in 2018 there were 1,922 Canadians killed in traffic accidents. In a population of 37.06 million, this was a very small per-centage. However, statistics are small comfort if your loved one was one of them. You have been made brutally aware that all our plans for the future can end in a second. Likewise with people who’ve lost family members to COVID. The fact that, of the 560,000 diagnosed cases in Canada so far, 470,00 recovered isn’t worth much, if you’re one of the 15,264 who didn’t.

So… What waits down the road? For me, maybe a heart attack? Or cancer? Another round of leukemia? Parkinson’s? A car accident? My 100th birthday celebration? I have many hopes and expectations, but who can know? Here comes my kitten. I’ll cuddle with him and enjoy today. 🙂

What next for us ALL? Here are my own goals, including concepts the dreaded Virus has taught humanity so far:

Enjoy today. Look around. See whatever beauty there is.
Enjoy the fresh air. And let’s do whatever we can to keep it fresh for others.
Love life – but don’t over-plan.
Visit a nursing home. Check out that “the last door of life” for most folks.
Get rid of the things that clutter your world. (Well, I’m trying. 😉 )
Try harder to forgive, make friends, smile more, get out for that walk.
Love your people – but know that you can’t hold them when they have to go.
As much as you can, set your house in order. We’ll all be moving on someday.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Galatians 6:7

End of Year Shuffle

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is SHUFFLE, and a very fitting one it is. Two weeks after Christmas find me shuffling a lot of stuff — organizing, tidying, hopefully boxing up some things to be donated. “Out with the old and in with the new. Or, as FlyLady says, “If you aren’t using it, give it away so it can bless someone else’s life.”

When you have so and so much space and it’s already full to overflowing, then Christmas gifts come in, something’s gotta give. So we shuffle through cupboards to see which things we should part with to make room for the new. Hopefully by the first week in January most objects have all settled into the best place for them.

This morning I went through my stack of jigsaw puzzles. I collect and distribute to the folks at the Villa and other friends who like to do them, but somehow they come back in greater numbers than they go out. I spread them out on the bed and sorted out the ones I still hope to do someday myself, then piled the rest into laundry baskets. I took these — about thirty puzzles — to church, sending a WhatsAp message around for anyone who wants puzzles to help themselves. Now to say a prayer that they will all disappear. 🙂

Books and puzzles are best circulated; they get musty sitting around waiting to be opened and used.

Which reminds me that I did a shuffle in my closet last week and pulled out a dress I haven’t worn in awhile. It’s been a little..ahem..snug. It has — or had — elastic at the waist. But the moment I stretched it out to look at the dress, the brittle elastic just disintegrated. Ah, yes! There really is no point in storing clothes that don’t fit, either, because if elastic isn’t regularly washed, it dries up and crackles like the autumn leaves. (Ditto with the elastic in sheets that have been stored.)

Things are not made to be hoarded. Ornaments can sit around and the worst that will happen is they will fade — unless they get broken. But I’ve learned that most fabrics and paper, like food, can’t take continual non-use/storage and stay good-as-new.