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What Will Become of Our Children?

I am starting to see my students grow up. At times they wait on me in a grocery store or they are a waiter etc. Looking at the struggles our current students are having in school and the push of education in a direction that leaves out common sense concerns me.

1. I had a cashier struggle to count a mix of bills at the checkout. I mean maybe he was stressed from the long line and thereby flustered, but maybe not. With the dependence on a debit card, will children be able to count money? It seems at least in my district that the money standards are pushed all the way to the end of the year. We all know what happens when a topic is pushed to the end…it often gets left out.
2. I teach some of the brightest students, yet some struggled to tell time. Is this becoming the norm? I had a teacher friend tell me that her grown daughter has to think a minute when looking at an analog clock. The school secretary mentioned that a parent couldn’t tell time from the analog clock in the office. Has our dependence on the digital clock on the cell phone crimped our brain?
3. I am all about critical thinking and math, but I am hearing teachers comment that children in grades 3-5 struggle with multiplication facts. The leaders of the math department are insisting that it is okay that children arrive at the answer by reasoning from a known fact. That is great that children can do that…but what happens with just knowing it in a second is important. Clogging up your brain with reasoning to get to the answer slows down your reasoning when you arrive at more difficult problems.
4. This one is unrelated to math. Has Google broken our critical thinking minds? Please say it isn’t so! I assigned a research project recently about planets. I asked some questions such as what kind of clothing would you need on this planet? What kind of food would you need? I had a child tell me they would bring Sonic and hibachi. I asked them if they thought there were drive thru windows in space and if that would sustain them for the years that it would take them to travel to their planet. I had children literally type these questions in on Google expecting that the answer would be there. In other words, they didn’t think I was going to make them think. I gave them a lecture about how Google doesn’t know everything, and that I expected them to reason about the questions.

Maybe I just needed to rant about these things, but I really am quite concerned. Public education needs an overhaul of common sense, but these are areas (especially the research one I am going to work on with my students).

Below are some resources to teach time, money, and multiplication.