Math… Now Spelling….

I know I am going to sound like an “old guy” here but I seem to remember the same thing happened as shown by Mr. Stahler’s cartoon above with math. I was in college when the first calculators were invented so I remember the hours and hours I spent in my grade school days learning multiplication and long division. Although I was somewhat proficient at it I was never that keen on math so memorizing the multiplication tables was not a favorite thing for me but I did learn them. My teacher drilled me back and forth on them.

When I went to college to get an engineering degree the math got quite a bit harder. It could not be done in your head anymore so I purchased my trusty slide rule. This was a bamboo stick with a sliding center rail with numbers all over it  that somehow gave answers to things like logarithms and such. As I was about to graduate the calculator was born. The original one could only do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It would be a few years before my trusty slide rule was replaced. I remember the furor this little device caused in the school system. Teachers seemed to be frustrated that a kid now had something that eliminated the need for all that memorization. In fact for the first decade or so of its existence they were banned from the classroom during testing times. It would be years before they found common acceptance among elementary school teachers.

Of course spelling was the next elementary school chore that was tackled by the techie crowd. The first spelling checkers were available soon after the Macintosh and PCs were invented. They were not as sophisticated as they are now but they did catch the grossest errors. Of course now they seem to be able to correct just about any word you type and many go on to look at syntax and sentence structure and give their recommendations in that area.

With the recent introduction of the iPhone 4S we have an app called Siri. It seems you can ask Siri just about any question and it will come up with an answer. I would not be at all surprised that Siri could actually do what is shown in this cartoon!  That brings up another difficulty for the education crowd. What will they teach Junior now that he seems to have all the answers available to him via these gadgets?  Is there anything that he needs to just keep in his head? Of course there are all kinds of answers to that question but I will leave that for future posts or maybe some of your comments. 😉

6 thoughts on “Math… Now Spelling….

  1. Teaching thinking skills is what is really needed in life today . so that is what you teach. Knowing facts that we were subjected to doing throughout my schooling are useless today. I can honestly say that for thinking skills I had NO TEACHER who taught those skills. That is mainly why I became a teacher. Just join Bible classes and you will see the evidence in the thinking of members that they cannot think of possibilities. Write back by email to me…And KEEP up the good work of thinking. We need more of YOU in this present world…Mary Wolf Depew


    1. Yes, I was expecting this response. You are right thinking skills are what is needed. Even at the college level what I learned was obsolete within five years but learning how to think was invaluable.
      The problem is that one teaches idea of thinking skills is different than another. We can only hope that our kids get the right teacher…


  2. There was an article in our morning paper recently that talked about the down side of all this gadgetry in the classroom. The distractions they create are a serious problem. While technology is great in moderation, and I love much of it, I’m afraid we may have crossed over into excess. Too many apps, too much social networking, way too much texting. And, I don’t just mean the kids! Teachers too, are spending too much time checking email and Facebook during their day. In addition, the parents now expect daily posts from teachers on homework, test results, and any little issue they want to bring up. Already time strapped teachers now have to maintain a web page and respond to emails from parents every day. So what is the answer? Schools may consider banning cell phones and blocking internet sites. Good luck with that. Kids are notorious for circumventing barriers. Not to mention parents who now think their kids….even very young ones…MUST have their phone on their person at all times so Mom and Dad and reach them.
    What has happened to reading for pleasure, writing complete sentences, working or playing without being “connected”? It has been reliquinshed to screen time. Are critical thinking skills being lost? It would seem so.
    I’m not a teacher, but I’m pretty sure that we need to find a better balance in our use and reliance on technology in schools (and our homes).


    1. Thanks for the comments Jane. I certainly know where you are coming from but in reality gadgets and real time communications is even more intense at the corporate level. I found myself answering up to 40 emails a day when I was in the IT world.
      So being around gadgets and such at the school level prepares them for that. Yeah, Facebook and endless frivolous texting needs to be brought under control but I differ with you about teachers being able to communicate via their web pages and email from parents. That is much better than having little or no contact with little Johnny’s parents. Teaching our youth should be an on-going discussion between the two.
      But as you say the balance in the use of technology is a tenuous thing.


  3. Parents were a bit frustrated at first, but I used computers all of the time in the classroom. We did not drill and kill (which still has its place), but learned to search properly for information. They had to think about the path.
    The school that my grandson will most likely attend asks the kids to BYOT (bring your own technology). They purchase a few computers for the kids with no access (none as of yet) and everyone else uses their own stuff to gather information.
    I do still believe in memorization. It expands a certain part of your brain early in life (proven by scans). Putting memorized facts with thinking expands the world tremendously for a child.
    BTW- I read hard cover, trade and e books. All are good!


    1. Thanks for your wisdom Jan. Yeah I knew memorizing those multiplication tables did me some good but I didn’t enjoy them at the time 🙂 Technology is so thoroughly dominate in the corporate world now. We no longer have 200 clerks doing what one person now does at a terminal so it should also be very dominate in our schools. As other have mentioned above I am also aligned with teachers just teaching the kids how to think. It sounds like you did a good job of that in your teaching years.
      That brings up another topic that I have been thinking about (I think about the weirdest things sometime) and that is is it best to leave educational decisions at the local level where a stodgy school board can actually stifle our children’s future by rejecting all but a horse and buggy world??


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