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What I've learned from homeschooling.

old man emu

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Just finished Week 7 of Term 3 with my grandson. Like a lot of grandparents, my wife and I are to go-to carers during school holidays, and now with COVID lockdowns, we have become home-school teachers. Not that the missus is doing any as she's been in hospital for nearly a month. But I digress.


Home-schooling has been a real eye-opener onto the current school-age generation and has illuminated the path our society will take in the not-too-distant future. My grandson is 8 years old and in Year 3. He's no fool, but the differences between how he is taught at school, and how I have been teaching him have brought about fights, yelling and slow progress. But in the past week I have be like Saul on the road to Damascus, and have changed my opinion. As  Baby Boomer, by the time I was in 3rd Class, I could rattle off my times tables; add a long column of numbers, and blitz mental arithmetic. My grandson is still doing addition by counting on his fingers. This was worrying me greatly, until a few things lit a light bulb in my head.


One of the exercises was to make up the change from a purchase using coins. The young bloke couldn't tell the difference between a 50 cent coin and a two dollar one. Why? Because kids these days do not handle coinage. In fact, when was the last time you paid for something with a handful of shrapnel? The only time he has handled coinage is when he got money from the Tooth Fairy. These kids are going to be using their phones for Electronic Funds Transfer. 


Another thing I am starting to question is learning multiplication tables. They will have a calculator in their hand, or on their wrist. Also, in a decimal world, using the factors of 12 is out of place. Look at any of the times tables and see the heavy presence of the factors of the number, 12. These are 2,3,and 4. Nothing decimal in them. They might linger on in the fractions of half, third and fourth but where's the eighth, and sixteenth?


Finally, these kids, with their mobile devices always with them, have access to the collected knowledge of mankind. How long is a piece of string? Dunno. Ask Google. The idea that the total of Mankind's knowledge could be held in a computer, Multivac, and accessed by anyone was used by the Sci-fi author Isaac Asimov in many of his stories written in the mid-50's. Now, nearly 70 years later, Multivac is the Internet.


And how long is a piece of sting?  One could say that it is twice as long as half its length, but that gets us nowhere.  The standard length for a British Naval Rope was 1,000 feet (300 m). 



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OME, the vital skill needed for survival in this modern age, is the ability to type so fast on a smartphone, with the thumbs and/or index fingers of each hand, that the typed words form faster than you can read.


Edited by onetrack
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