Expectations for graduating from high school today seem significantly different than when I was a student, or maybe they just go about it in a different way. Over four years, we were required to amass a minimum of 24 “credits” with one hour every day allowed for frivolity, otherwise known as “study hall” or choir, art or home economics or wood shop, drafting, etc. While typing was required of all students, shorthand (you’re excused if you don’t even know what that is) and bookkeeping (Quick Books without the computer) were elective studies.
At the end of every year, we had to fill out a schedule for the next. I say “we” but, in our family, that meant my dad told us what classes we would be taking and the fun stuff was not included. I did wheedle long enough to get one year of home etc., wherein I made the mistake of allowing a fellow student to pierce my ears with a large sewing needle. Next year, my only non-academic course was shorthand. With bookkeeping the year after. I was not a happy camper in either course, but learned to be appreciative when, years after, I could always find a job as a secretary. Father knows best, without a doubt.
Monte Vista school kids from fourth grade through high school are given “tablets” to use during the school year; Alamosa, I believe, is doing something similar. By the time these youngsters get to junior high, they’re all more computer literate than most of their parents and way more proficient than my generation. Our “tablets” were Red Chief with widely spaced lines and we carried one to school every day, with a couple of #2 pencils. The electronic age makes possible the “on-line academy” wherein a student day can be reduced to a couple of hours in front of a keyboard and more free time to play games. Or design games for fun and profit. Huge profit.
On the plus side, electronic toys keep kids from aimlessly wandering about town, creating havoc and infuriating everyone over the age of 30 (unless they’re in a check-out line at WalMart or in a restaurant). On the minus, they stay inside instead of playing sandlot baseball, hop scotch, going on picnics or mowing the lawn.
We mourn the passing of old standards: penmanship has not been taught in grade school for years. Now, they’re supposedly going to do away with teaching children how to write in cursive. I’ll admit, I’ve never learned cursive myself. I do, however, have affluent hand in fakery. If you connect the letters with loops at the bottom and add enough dips, swirls and fooforahs, it looks like cursive. And it’s legible. Not to mention, it had the added advantage of allowing me to forge my mother’s very artistic signature. Which wasn’t much help because excuses to school for our absences were signed by my dad.
Recently, I was invited to “join” a book club where you are given a name by a moderator and you then send a copy of your favorite book. How this will work when most of those being contacted no longer buy REAL books is not specified. In any case, I declined. I have no interest in reading 25 copies of “40 Shades of Gray” or 35 copies of assorted Danielle Steele novels. This is like the chain letter that promises a return of 50 or more if you send your husband/boyfriend/significant other to the first name on the list, etc. Would any of those on the “favorite book” list enjoy a copy of “Profiles in Courage”? They could give it to their dad for Christmas, maybe.