Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Is Today's Education Better...It's Hard To Say

The schools in our area started yesterday, September 2.  Some schools around the country wait until after Labor Day, but all the kids will be back soon.  Things have changed so much.  I was getting a haircut the other day and my hairdresser was saying that third graders don't have spelling lists anymore.  Even with spellchecker, you have to get the word slightly correct or it will change it to a whole new word.  Even if you spell a word right, it sometimes gets changed anyway.  I don't know the logic behind no spelling lists, but I'm sure someone studied it and determined that it didn't make for better spellers. 

My grandson Ewan started kindergarten.

These days kindergartners go to school for the whole day.  My daughter told me they didn't need to have a nap mat because they don't have nap time anymore.  They don't teach handwriting and by the end of the year, they have to be able to read a chapter book with several sentences on each page.  They need to know the title, author, parts of a book and be able to answer questions to prove comprehension.  I guess Ewan is fine with it though.  His teacher told my daughter that Ewan had the best question of the day.  He raised his hand and asked if they were going to learn to read today.  He can't wait to read big hardcover books like his brother and his parents.

 When my daughters attended kindergarten they went half a day and learned a letter a week.  I think the only expectation was to write their name by the end of the year.  When I went to kindergarten, I don't think we learned anything.  It was so long ago I don't remember much.  I do remember wetting my pants so I could get sent home.  Why do we remember those things but not the happy things?  I know I didn't learn to read.  My husband didn't even go to kindergarten, so I guess basically we both started school for real in 1st grade.

My Aunt Agnes in 1928 when she got out of Normal School.

My mother's oldest sister Agnes was a teacher.  She taught grades 1-8 in a country school without indoor plumbing and a woodstove for heat.  She taught many of her brothers and sisters.  Mom used to say she was so hard on all of them because she didn't want anyone to think she favored her family.  I recently found her planning book from 1940.  It was interesting to read.  There was no kindergarten.  In first grade students began the year with a pre-primer called We, Look and See.  These were called Dick and Jane books and they came out about 1930.  I imagine they were the new innovative reading program.  They studied vocabulary words like oh, see, look and run.  By the end of the year Agnes wrote "drill on phonetic development and read with expression".  I learned phonics drills and had Dick and Jane books.  I remember them to this day.  Who knows what is best?  I do have to say that by 8th grade Aunt Aggie's students knew the classics, talked about current events each day, did exercises in punctuation, learned posture and manners, and did extensive drills on County and State government.  All grades had spelling lists and practiced handwriting. 

Pray Wisconsin schoolhouse

Mom's sister Agnes, the teacher, with the striped shirt in the top row, my mom in the middle with the blonde curls and her brother Eugene in the lower right corner.  My mom never did like to have her picture taken.  She always looked serious.

 It's a different world now for good or bad.  The old way probably wouldn't work now, although students were taught a lot of useful life lessons.  Things have changed so quickly.  Twenty five years ago my daughter went to college with a small computer and no portable cell phone.  I went with a typewriter and a dime to call on the pay phone.  Now small little babies can use an ipad and use a cell phone.  Imagine what the next twenty five years will bring.  I can't even begin to imagine.

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