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.

Marginal Ideas

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is GOODBYE/HELLO
And Sammi has published another Weekend Writing Prompt

.
 Carnivores, goodbye!
 No more inefficient beef.
 Hello, veggies and grain to feed the world!
 So they ploughed the pastures,
 even the marginal lands.
 And the winds came…
 and the land blew…
Image by Couleur — Pixabay

My response springs from a discussion I had with Mr Bump earlier in the week about using land for grain and vegetable production rather than pasture. This 31-word tale describes what happened here on the prairies when the settlers came. The “Dirty Thirties” taught us that some land just can’t be cultivated.

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. 🙂