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.

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

Book: Ever Green Romances

To Have, To Hold (Ever Green Series Book 1) by [Darlene Polachic]

TO HAVE, TO HOLD
© 2017 by Darlene Polachic
This is the first in the Ever Green Christian romance series and is a free book on Kindle Unlimited for those who are subscribers.

When Janet O’Grady’s wheeler-dealer husband Marty dies in a car crash, she learns that he’s put everything they own under ownership of the company he and his brother own. Hoping to find a bank account with funds she can access, she discovers evidence that he’s been shifting company funds into an offshore account. Marty’s brother soon learns that millions of dollars are missing from the company’s account and he’s sure she’s been party to this deception. He wants his money and she must know where it is.

Leaving almost everything behind, Janet sneaks away in the wee hours with her six-year-old twin boys, running scared, headed for her parents’ home in Washington. She’s hoping they’ll forgive the past, take her in and give her shelter until she can get on her feet again. En route she needs help from a kind stranger.

Her parents think she must be a rich widow now — and she doesn’t tell them the truth, fearing her father’s health is too precarious for such a shock. Her sister Christa”s busy planning her wedding to banker Grant Brooks — who turns out to be the kind stranger who paid for Janet’s gas a few hours before.

Grant, a generous man with an inkling about Janet’s true financial state, offers to let her live in his grandfather’s house in exchange for cleaning it out — his grandparent saved EVERYTHING — so he can sell it. Janet appreciates working with Grant to clean up the place and Janet’s boys, starved for a father’s attention, just love him. She’d like to, too — but Grant’s taken. She’s not about to snitch her sister’s beau.

There are so many things I like about this book! It’s a clean story and well written. The main characters are mostly mature, considerate people; the ones who profess to be Christians do try to practice patience and kindness. The plot is interesting, believable, dramatic in places but not a high suspense. The only thing I couldn’t quite see was Grant as a banker — or a successful banker with Grant’s easy-going nature. He’s personable and conscientious but would a thirty-four-year-old professional money manager let himself drift into an engagement with a woman who loved to spend his money?

That aside, overall, this is an upbeat, enjoyable read — and written by one of the ladies in our writers friendship circle. 🙂

While this is The Evergreen Series, named for the town, each of the six novels is a stand-alone. Here are #2 and #3, which I haven’t read yet:

Poetic Paper Clutter

Hello to all friendly readers near and far. I’ve mentioned this already, but for awhile now I’ve been getting daily e-mails from the FlyLady, with the idea that sometimes I may get serious about following her system. right now I’m working on the general monthly goals, and the goal this morning is to eliminate paper clutter.

She’d be delighted if she could see the big green garbage bag of papers I’ve already shredded this week — but most of that is years-old records hubby has been storing until recently. Now it’s time for me to dig into my own stash of scribbles, weed out and post various poetry and musings. Here’s one I did awhile ago about the COVID isolation:

No Customers

The merchant opens his door
to let the wind to rush in
and a masked young mom
with hurried, worried eyes.
Then a child wanting chips,
her eyes crinkling in smiles,
her mask Sleeping Beauty

She heads home to school;
he turns his sign to OPEN.
The wind flips it back.
What does it matter?
Few customers will come,
this Covid-tainted morning
where lock-down rules.

Mom’s Draconian Rules!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is DRACONIAN. I’ve concocted this tale as a response. I’ll admit that, like Tanelle, I’m still learning this lesson. 😉

Tanelle sighed into her cell phone. “I can’t go to the rink this morning, Marnie. Mom says I gotta clean up my room first.”

“Can’t you just tell her you’ll do it after you get home. I mean, she has to be reasonable. You aren’t a little kid anymore.”

“She says work has to come before play.”

“You can’t come roller blading because you have to clean up your room? That’s like…archaic! That’s a draconian rule!”

“Yeah, well, that’s where it’s at. I better go now. Talk to you later.” Tanelle clicked off her phone and went into the kitchen to grab some breakfast and maybe try one more pleading session.

“Marnie’s really choked that I can’t come this morning. She thinks, too, that I could easily clean up my room when I get back.”

“No doubt she does,” Mom replied. “Great minds think alike, right?” She grinned at Tanelle.

Tanelle grabbed a box of cereal from the cupboard. “You realize that my friends are all going to think your rules are draconian.” She poured some cereal in a bowl and got the milk from the fridge.

Mom was quiet for a minute. “Okay,” she said, “Let me ask you something. Imagine a young lady living on her own, in her own apartment, let’s say. And she has all these bills to pay: rent, electricity, maybe heating and water. Plus she has to buy groceries, maybe furniture and clothes. If she has a car she’ll need to pay for gas and licence; if not, she may have to buy bus tickets. Would you call it “draconian” that she has to pay all those expenses?”

“Of curse not. That’s just life.”

“Suppose she spends her money on fun things. She may want to pay her bills, but there are so many fun things waiting to be done and the money doesn’t last. So the bills pile up and credit card companies start calling, demanding payment. She hasn’t paid her rent, so the landlord is ready to kick her out of her apartment. She has no money for gas so she has to walk. Would she be in a big mess? Would she find her situation depressing?”

“Probably.”

“Wouldn’t it be smart for her to pay her bills first, and then use what’s left for fun things?”

Tanelle heaved a sigh. “I think we’ve had this conversation before – or something just like it.”

“So work and play need to balance, just like income and outgo. If you spend your time at play, the work piles up. Learning this lesson is part of growing up and becoming responsible for yourself, your space, your messes. You may say, ‘I’ll do the fun thing now and work later,’ but there will always be some fun thing calling to you. The work left for ‘later’ piles up and in time you don’t know where to start. Like a stack of unpaid bills, the mess will finally depress you.”

“Mom, I know all this!” Tanelle protested.

“Then why is your room in such a mess?”

Tanelle got up with a huff and carried her bowl to her room where she could eat in peace. Tossing yesterday’s clothes off her chair, she plopped down at her desk and cleared enough space for her bowl of cereal.

“Why do moms have to nag so much,” she wondered as she finished her breakfast. Looking around she admitted that, yeah, her room was a tad messy. Then she remembered she needed to find that Style magazine and take it along to show Marnie. She’d been looking at it late last night; it was probably under the bed.

The scene her mom described flashed through her mind. She pictured this really messy apartment with a stack of bills on the table and the landlord pounding on the door. Gross! Well, that wouldn’t be her. She was smarter than that.