Thoughts On My Son's First Day Of School
As I walked my son to his first day of school, pre-school, I couldn’t help but contemplate the state of our educational system and the potential impacts it is and will have on society.
During my short 40 years, I have seen the transition from a focus on cursive handwriting, to printing, from typing to keyboarding, from writing out mathematical solutions to graphing calculators and party lines with rotary dial phones, to digital phones with answering machines, to cell phones, to smart phones that are used more for texting, tweeting, posting and emailing than talking.
These transitions of focus included a transition away critical thinking and in my humble opinion have resulted in the following:
1. People rarely write thank you cards or letters anymore. Instead, the cards are pre-printed, digital or email is utilized. People no longer have to think about how to say what they feel and then legibly put those words to paper. Humanity is lost. Let us return to the days when a “rough draft” for an essay meant writing it on paper. Would this not improve critical thinking and reduce the temptation to “cut & paste” from an electronic file?
2. People are unable to compute mathematical problems without a calculator or computer, let alone run a proof to determine if the given answer is truly correct. “Experts” working for regulatory agencies rely entirely upon computer models without any regard for the quality of the data entering, whether the data was entered correctly, whether the data was utilized properly and are unable to “prove” the outcome is accurate without utilizing multiple runs on another computer, using the same files and same model. Start putting it back on paper people!
3. People become agitated when responses to questions are not answered in a timely manner via social media or email, when a phone call could give an immediate reply. I fear cell phones, if not already, will soon be utilized more for digital communication than speaking. Will this lead to the inability of individuals to communicate effectively vocally and introduce classes on texting instead of speech?
Do not take this the wrong way, I appreciate technology and utilize all forms that help me to be more efficient. However, I do think that we need to re-introduce some of the basics back into schools. Teach students how to write again, legibly and grammatically correct. Require students to show ALL of their work in math, not just answers and bring back speech and debate classes.
While I am looking forward to my son’s future experiences in his educational endeavors, he can rest assured that what he does not receive in school, will be waiting for him at home. Until then, it is back to changing water and ranch work alone, two days a week. At least I get to be weaned from him in phases. 🙂