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.

Writing Prompt Responses

I’ve just read a couple of interesting articles and ensuing comments re: Writing prompts. Tanya at Salted Caramel asks in a recent post if her readers like responding to writing prompts. It’s an interesting article and generated a number of comments. Read it HERE.

Several bloggers have mentioned recently how they prefer it when posts aren’t too long and comments are brief (because there are often a couple dozen to read through.) One blogger says he rarely writes posts over 200 words. “Experience has taught me that the longer the tale, the fewer the readers.” Generally speaking, that’s true. So much is being offered on the internet smorgasbord that only the most interested or devoted readers will take the time to read long posts. I tend to skim through longer posts; I see from comments that other bloggers do, too.

Our Ragtag Daily Prompt today is HEALTH, a topic one could go on and on about these days, but I will heed the admonitions and keep it brief. Apart from the aches and pains of arthritis, I’m in fairly good health, thank you. 🙂

A couple of hours ago I looked out the window and saw that a jet had left a trail across our sky. From all appearances, that jet was NOT in the best of HEALTH. I quickly sat down and wrote a limerick about it:

The jet that flew over, belching,
must not be too healthy, poor thing!
Left behind such a squiggle,
a bizarre sort of wiggle,
you'd think it was on its last wing.

Midnight Tales

Our Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is WREST

One definition, according to M-W, is “to gain with difficulty by or as if by force, violence, or determined labor.” Our newest cat, Tuffy, though he’s only half-grown, doesn’t seem to have such great difficulty wresting small creatures from their hiding places, but I’ll use this word in my response. Since the writing prompt is to be a quick, fun thing I’ll offer my little rhyme.

The temperature has turned quite mild recently, to the delight of our cats. They’re ready to rush off to adventures whenever the door’s open. Yesterday Tuffy raced across the driveway, over the big snowbank on the other side left by the plow, and up into the crotch of a nearby tree. Heaven help the birds come spring! Last night when I let Tuffy out the back door he started nosing along the side of the trailer. Before long he stopped to investigate one spot intently.

 Outside in a flash
 nosing in the tall grass
 surrounding our dwelling,
 Tuff found a small swelling.

 Oh, joy! 'Twas a hole
 smelling strongly of mole – 
 or maybe a mouse
 entry into our house.

 A wee mole was stirring,
 his cat nature spurring
 his talon to wrest
 pipsqueak from its nest.

 That sad little creature
 became the prime feature
 in a game of delight
 for Tuffy last night.

Midday Moon

The Ragtag Daily Prompt: GALAVANT — or GALLIVANT (UK)

Something none of us have done very much of for awhile. But the moon, on the other hand, wanders willy-nilly at times.

Midday Moon

Moon, moon, what dost thou here?
You're supposed to be away
over there on the other side
shining down on Japan
or India or even Turkey.
It's mid-afternoon and here –
not there – you are!

Not staying on your given track
what's prompted you to gallivant
around the globe
in broad daylight?
Folks around there will miss
your whiteness, your brightness.

Worse, I suppose now
you won't show up
for our date tonight.
Totally off course –
maybe in Timbuktu –
when we need you.
Obdurate orb, don't be so dim!
Get with the program, eh.