Memo from Kitty

The Kitten

Cuddling in my bosom,
purring like a jet plane,
Kitty cracks my shirt buttons
in his sharp little teeth.

The communiqué is clear:
"I'm bored. Get up once!
Leave that fiddly stuff;
come play with me."

If I miss the message,
ever eager to clarify
his next step will be
cleaning off my desk.

At Twelve per Hour

Yesterday my husband and I started doing a jigsaw puzzle, one given to us sometime in the past six months by I forget who. This is a Cobble Hill puzzle, one brand we always enjoy doing, where every puzzle piece is a different shape. Looking at their site, I see they have some really beautiful puzzles listed. 🙂

With each piece being a unique shape, the putting-together should be easy-peasy, right? Nope. Not this one, because it’s such a collage of vines and leaves, fruits and butterflies. In fact it’s call Fruits & Flutterbies.

Pretty? Yes. Easy? No. Click Here if you want to see the picture we’re trying to put together.

My hubby worked at it for an hour before dinner and put in twelve pieces. Then he calculated: 1000 pieces at 12 per hour, with each of us putting in a couple of hours every day, should take us clear through til spring. Somewhat like retyping WAR & PEACE.

However, with the outside temp hovering around -30 C we may as well occupy ourselves with something appealing indoors. It’s a sunny day and with sunbeams making all the snowbanks glisten, a person could almost go snow-blind. I imagine this country when settlers first came, not a tree or anything to break the view for twenty miles. And then sunshine on snowy fields!

One early arrival, coming from Wales, commented that “Back home I always like to face the road ahead so I could see what was coming up. But when I’m travelling here on the flat prairie it doesn’t matter what direction I face because the view’s the same whichever way you look.”

See It Through

By Edgar A Guest

When you’re up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
Do the best that you can do;
You may fail, but you may conquer,
See it through!

Black may be the clouds about you
And your future may seem grim,
But don’t let your nerve desert you;
Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen,
Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you,
See it through!

Even hope may seem but futile,
When with troubles you’re beset,
But remember you are facing
Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;
Don’t give up, whate’er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.
See it through!

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.