May 18, 2007

LOSING TOUCH

My husband and I have been discussing parenting constantly since we decided to start a family. Our philosophy is that our job as parents is to turn babies into adults. Our child will be a child for about 1/5th of his life, so the real goal is to mold him into a good adult. Thus we constantly discuss which ways we think we can best achieve this goal.

One thing that does worry me is handing the kid over to a school. I know enough Neal Boortz and John Stossel to be completely disillusioned with public schools. But we also don't want to homeschool, so we generally discuss ways we can supplement our future child's education.

This story about elementary school kids using calculators is just sad. I think technology is great, but it's also taken us far away from the fundamentals. I remember getting a pizza one night and the cash register girl accidentally typed in $200 instead of $20. She couldn't for the life of her figure out how much change to give us without the cash register doing it for her; she had to hunt around for a calculator to do the math. Of course, at my job in college I also saw one girl count on her fingers how many hours her 12-8 work shift was. Sigh.

It's not only a problem with math though. Spell Check has killed our ability to bother looking words up. I had another blogger ask me how I could stand Movable Type since it doesn't have spell check, but if I'm unsure about a word, it only takes ten seconds to open m-w.com and look it up. That's way better than Back In The Olden Days when I actually had to do my homework sitting with a dictionary and a thesaurus. When I was teaching college English, I was just happy if students' papers didn't look like they'd text messaged them to me! Yeah, LOL is not appropriate for a college paper, folks.

We have so much power at our fingertips these days -- to be able to find cosines, definitions, and historical figures with a touch of a button -- but as wonderful as this technology is, I can't help but think sometimes that we're losing our grasp on basic smarts.

Of course, this is coming from the girl who patted herself on the back repeatedly a few weeks ago because she used the Pythagorean Theorem instead of a tape measure to figure out how big her knitting project would be. Look at me, I'm a flippin' math genius.

Posted by: Sarah at 08:20 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 I agree. I am always looking up words on m-w.com. even when I am reading online I will highlight a word and paste into the search feature. even if I know the word and know that the writer is using it inappropriately, I look it up anyway.

Posted by: Butterfly Wife at May 18, 2007 03:10 PM (RX8Nf)

2 Yeah, I know the feeling, Sarah. What bums me out even more ius that kids use calculators and haven't a clue why it does the things it does, in form or function. Not only are they doing things with technology they don't understand, but they don't even understand the technology itself.

Posted by: deskmerc at May 18, 2007 06:02 PM (obWV/)

3 Thanks Sarah. I have gone over and over this, and although some would tell me that homeschooling is the way to go, it just isn't for our family. And the spelling thing...ugh! It's funny, because I don't even trust spellcheck. When I go back and proofread things I write for school, I catch errors I've made that spellcheck doesn't catch. It just infuriates me how much our kids aren't learning in school anymore. Do you know that my mother-in-law told me the other night that history isn't even being taught anymore? ::Sigh::

Posted by: Robin at May 18, 2007 06:09 PM (XTKEz)

4 Have you ever given a cashier some change to make your change round up to ... say a quarter? and they have already typed in what you gave them... and they get a glassy look... and you have to explain to them you gave them two pennies to make your 23 cents a quarter. weird.

Posted by: jake silver at May 19, 2007 10:57 AM (7wSqR)

5 Here's a good one...we went out to dinner with the hubby's parents last Tuesday. As we were leaving the restaurant, my father-in-law went back into the restaurant to ask for change for a $20. The girl actually asked him, "so you want five $5 bills?" He told us about that, and we just lost it. It's so sad!

Posted by: Robin at May 20, 2007 05:27 PM (XTKEz)

6 Sara, From someone working in the schools, I can say that if you go visit different schools, you will find one that is good. They are out there. These days, teachers feel so much pressure for No Child Left Behind that it is hard to teach art, music, etc. History is taught in the schools I work in though. Wait until you try to find a preschool! That is the hard part. Do you want Montessori, Reggio, child-centered, academic...a lot of options! I definitely know home-schooling isn't for me even though I give credit to parents who do it AND give their children the social interaction they need. Anyway, don't lose hope on our schools...teachers are trying! So much of a child's success stems from the motivation they get at home, and for you all, that will be enough to make sure your child is successful

Posted by: Stephanie at May 22, 2007 01:59 AM (+bp0U)

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