Teach Your Children Well

general ledger Apologies for being least in sight for the past couple of Sundays. I’m among that pathetic number filing my taxes September 15, and my general ledger went cracker-dog on me. Who would have thought that a few zeroes in the wrong place or a few others gone missing would be a big deal? I have some reports due at the law office as well, and two manuscripts are due to my publisher. This is me, playing whack a mole, and I missed the blog-mole. I apologize, and hope it won’t happen again because I love the dialogue a post can inspire.

algebraBut I’m BAAAACK and came across a Facebook situation that got me thinking. Somebody posted a sentiment along the lines of, “Another day has passed… and I didn’t use Algebra once.” Some commenters chimed in with, “Me neither!” but one guy fumed a little. He pointed out that if we use a cell phone, we’re relying on algebra, quantum physics, relativity, and bunch of other higher math, so we do TOO use algebra every day.

dariy cowHe had a valid point. Americans are notoriously “innumerate,” or illiterate about numbers compared to a lot of other countries. A grasp of numbers is a fundamental building block of successful functioning in life, but how sophisticated should that grasp of numbers be? The overwhelming majority of infants and toddlers can only thrive if they get adequate dairy nutrition, but what most of us know about dairy farming doesn’t even equate to 2 + 2. Same with most food production, though without food, WE DIE.

abacusMy knee jerk reaction is that every high school senior ought to know how to solve for a mathematical unknown, not simply because it’s useful as applied to numbers, but also because it’s a useful mental discipline: Get what you know on one side of the equal sign, then tinker until you have what you don’t know on the other…. Someday, you might own a law practice, and need to algebra your way into figuring out what has gone awry with April’s data entry process.

heather graduates croppedI used to think proper penmanship was an important aspect of a person’s image. Schools don’t teach penmanship any more, and a lot of people earn fine livings without it. I love reading maps, and usually do pretty well by dead reckoning, My daughter has lived in Denver for several years and has no idea where anything is on a map. She knows the address, and knows how to punch it into the GPS and follow the directions–and that works fine for her and many people her age.Β  My vehicle has no GPS and I prefer that.

We’re not funding education even close to adequately, so what subjects are the most important ones to get across to the young people? Language? Physical and mental evernighthealth? History? Biology? Math? Dairy farming? Conflict management? Which ones would you emphasize if you were the one calling the shots?

To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of The Laird, and ALSO a copy of Kristin Callihan’s new Darkest London book, “Evernight,” just because I think it’s a wonderful read.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

46 comments on “Teach Your Children Well

  1. As a teacher in the UK, I can tell you that we face pretty much the same problems in terms of funding and frustrations in the terms of what we get to teach our kids as you do over on your side of the pond. I read this post nodding my head and was about to move on without responding simply because education is a subject so dear to my heart that I’d have spent all morning here venting my spleen!

    But in answer to your question, I think I’d have to say “a bit of everything”. My principal subjects are Music and Modern Foreign Languages (French with a bit of Spanish), and both those are subjects which many parents and kids feel are a waste of time. If I had a pound for the number of times I’ve heard the moan “why do I ‘af ter lern French? I ain’t never gonna go to France so wasser point?” I’d be rich enough to retire by now.

    Schools here are terribly focused on English and Maths, especially in the Primary sector (4-11 yrs) and rightly so, but they sometimes lose the importance of trying to create rounded individuals who have at least some knowledge of, shall we say, the finer things in life.

    After all, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. Or so they say πŸ™‚

    *climbs off soapbox*

    • Caz, I’ve seen two studies that aren’t getting enough attention. The first had to do with what happens when an instrumental music program is introduced into a school that didn’t have one. Grades improve, absenteeism drops, incidents of bullying and violence drop, among both the musicians and the children who aren’t even studying an instrument. That ought to be front page news.

      The other story was about what happens when at the lowest grades, the school week includes three periods of vigorous physical activity. Same thing–grades improve, incidents of bullying drop drastically, attendance improves, and–this alone ought to get the students out of their seats–the incidence of obesity among students dropped from forty percent to THREE percent. Many of these children had no safe place to play outside, or no parent to supervise their play outside. They could not “go climb a tree or play sandlot baseball,” so school was the only place to learn the joy of kickball.

      We’re so focused on the academics instead of the students, that we’re teaching them Sitting Disease, we’re teaching them Isolationism, we’re teaching them that life should be drudgery and that beauty, creativity and team spirit don’t matter.

      Worse, we’re teaching them that the people who can teach them, and the places they’re supposed to learn don’t matter either.

      How great a leap is it, for the students to conclude THEY themselves don’t matter either?

      • One of the things that DOES seem to get attention and funding in schools here is PE (Physical Education) as all children must have a minimum of 2 hours per week PE in school. I know PE teachers who complain about the lack of funding and “status” – but I’m afraid that falls on deaf ears to a music teacher who is often seen as among the lowest of the low!

        As for your final point about teaching the kids that the people who teach them don’t matter… well, again, I can only nod my head in agreement. I’ve worked almost exclusively in tough schools and the disrespect shown to staff from both pupils and parents is incredibly disheartening. It’s a massive problem which those in power try to sweep under the carpet which of course, does nobody any good. And you’re right, all that is often symptomatic of a lack of self-belief and aspiration.

        I don’t think anybody knows what the answer is. All I know is those people whose job it is to look for one usually start at the wrong place.

  2. While I think there’s value in covering all the basics, it seems to me that today’s emphasis on testing how well you regurgitate what you’ve “learned” often misses the point: teaching students (of any age) to develop curiosity, critical thinking and critical evaluation of any information found in research to appease that curiosity, thoughtful expression of ideas (orally and by the written word), and open-minded engagement with others. The beauty of it is, none of those things have to be limited to the classroom!

    I’d also love to see a “home economics” curriculum that approaches Wendell Berry’s definition of the term: creating and nurturing an economy based at home. It would involve learning how to do things by hand — be it cooking, sewing, gardening, fixing things — but also encompass real-life skills like money management, learning how to get by with what you’ve got (no matter how little it might be), self-sufficiency, and cooperation. I’ve really valued all the “home economics” lessons I learned growing up — most of which came from outside a home economics class — and it has made me a much more grounded person. Doesn’t mean I’m “limited” to being a homemaker, but to me, making a home (wherever I am) is a valuable basis for being a member of my community.

    Glad you’ve wrestled those taxes into submission, Grace — welcome back!

    • I was the first female student in my entire county to take shop classes. Why in the name of all that’s practical shouldn’t every woman understand the simple theory that makes the wheels of her car move forward? Why shouldn’t guys know how to stitch up the hem of their slacks or make a decent omelet?

      But this also raises the thorny issue: The schools have so much to do already, what remains for parents to teach, and when–many of them word two jobs–are they supposed to teach it?

      • It’s a VERY thorny issue, because so many parents don’t have some of those skills themselves, let alone the time to teach them. It would definitely require a big change in how society as a whole views the home economy and its importance — and that certainly won’t change overnight. Still, I can dream…

  3. Welcome back Grace! Missed you but I do understand – first things first. I do enjoy this blog and reading the other responses as well.

    It has always amazed me how undervalued teachers are – both monetarily and appreciation wise. I have a brother and two nephews who were teachers. They loved it and it truly was a calling but all three gave it up at one point or another because they had families to support.

    History was always my favorite subject, but it was never popular, even back in the stone age when I went to school. Algebra (or any math subject) was always my weakest. I don’t think I would have made through high school with out my mother helping me with my homework.

    Yes, that’s the same mother who wouldn’t let watch American Bandstand while doing my homework!!

    • Mary T, I used to think I wasn’t any good at math either, until I came across a teacher for Algebra II named John Long. Mr. Long had the teaching gene–and he was good at math. First and only year I got straight A’s.

      Among horseback riders, it’s axiomatic that the best of the best of the best are very seldom the great teachers. They were born knowing how to rate a horse around a jump course, how to finesse a piaffe on a smokin’ hot dressage champ. Nobody really taught those superstars, though somebody might have flushed out a few of the details for them.

      I think math is the same thing. People who grasp math instinctively are the last people who ought to be teaching it (usually), but they’re the only ones who enjoy the subject matter enough to live with it day in and day out. Mr. Long was an award winning teacher who happened to be in a math classroom. The trig and calculus teacher, by contrast, was a very smart man who had a thorough command of his subject.

      The upshot of this situation: I do like math, I enjoy using the algebra I need to manage my business. Took me thirty years to figure that out, because according to my trig and calculus grades, “I’m no good at math.”

    • Mary, History was my favorite also. I had no one to help me with Algebra and other higher math classes. I had to ask the teachers for help. I am so upset that those of us with a Liberal Arts education are not valued. Only STEM educations are valued. Not everyone gets those subjects. My engineer husband was taught to solve problems in a linear fashion. I was taught to solve problems from looking for a solution from many different angles. Thank you liberal arts training! Over the years, my problem solving skills have yielded better solutions in our household than my husband’s.

  4. Math does need to be taught,and to write and speak properly,whichever venue is area appropriate,but I think we need to add how to act like a civil human being..I live in SouthEast Georgia,just a few mins from the Florida border.Daily I see our young people doing things I would never have done to another human OR animal..Just my opinion…..Thanks for the blog!!

    • Hear, hear, Angie! Civility, consideration for others, and compassion for others are vital to being human — wouldn’t it be nice to pair the three C’s with the “three R’s”?

      • Ladies, I wonder about this. Civility is taught by modeling it to and before the children. I don’t think a generation of barbarian children just happens all of a sudden from kind, honorable forbearers. Something breaks, something frays. Something falls apart, but what, and how to fix it?

  5. Reading, writing and arithmetic with a healthy dose of history. Let’s get back to the basics. I have a few text books from the 1800’s that put today’s education system to shame. Home economics and shop wouldn’t hurt either.

    • Mary,I wonder if those text books include quadratic equations? Foreign languages? Cell biology? I had all of that before high school, as do, I think most kids with college ambitions.

      I like the idea of equipping everybody with solid basic skills, but what ARE the basics any more?

      • The math book has practical problems in it – My horse cost $240.50, and my carriage cost $386.25; I sold them for $680.50; what did I gain? A miner divides 37 lb. 10 oz. 17 pwt. 16 gr. of gold among 8 sisters; how much does each receieve?
        It also had various units of measure inluding minims, gills and furlongs. Did you know 56 lbs. of rye equals a bushel?
        While the book doesn’t use quadratic equations, it does address stocks and bonds. It also addressed problems based on battles of the Revolution, American history, areas of States and English currency.
        The book was written in 1865 and included a section on metrics.
        And everything was done manually, not a calculator in sight.

      • Mary, do you think this was to be solved mentally or using pencil and paper? I ask because the people I’ve known who were illiterate have had much better memorization skills than I have. I’m wondering if we haven’t also lost some mental math skills simply because we haven’t needed to develop them.

  6. I never had any intention of teaching math. I love history and maps. I wanted to teach those things.

    Like so many of my students I struggled with math (or thought I did) until junior high. After that I realized all I had to do was know the algebra rules and follow them and all was well (the *why* of math never mattered to me and still doesn’t really). And I’ve discovered that if I can ever get a kid to turn enough work that I can give them a decent grade in algebra or geometry I can change that perception of themselves (that they suck at math) and they work harder at it and do better. Shocking revelation, I know.

    As for what subjects are necessary? All of them. I do wish that elementary schools still focused more on the fundamentals of the major subjects (math, reading/writing, & science) so that by high school students could expand more on the things they enjoy and/or the things they will need to apply directly to college or their career choice. But in order for that to happen I need the [email protected]#$ing federal government go back to Washington out of my damn classroom.

    It’s a big enough hassle dealing with the morons in state government. However, I’ve learned to live with them because I know they feel entitled since they do pay 90% of my paycheck. (I’m going to stop know before I go on a complete tirade about the Governor of Tennessee and the imbecile he appointed as head of education.)

    Education in America (and probably other parts of the world) needs make major changes. But maybe looking to the past and seeing what turned out men and women who made the huge technological/scientific/mathematical advances of the last 120 years is what we should be doing.

    • Sabrina, I was hoping you’d chime in. In no discussion I’ve heard on the issues with education have I heard anybody else says, “The problem is the student’s self perception,” though, well, duh. What native talent can’t grasp, persistence, 90 percent of the time, can make comprehensible.

      I hear you on the politics. It’s the same with child welfare. The feds insist that special needs children in foster care be placed in permanent situations before they’re eighteen. They need permanence! They must have permanence! Right. Except any kid who IS in foster care on their eighteenth birthday is eligible for a ton more educational benefits, which are exactly what those kids need most.

      Then too, their families couldn’t handle them as younger children, which is why they ended up in foster care, so a lot of this square-pegging the older disabled child back into the home is about the family wanting the disability check, and the state wanting to abandon a kid who will be very expensive to manage if he or she remains under court supervision.

      Who loses? The kid who needs help the most. Thank you, well intentioned federal policy that puts finding a nearly adult child a permanent situation on the same footing as permanency has for a two day old.

      Must be Mercury in Rantro-grade today.

      • Especially for at-risk students, their repeated struggles and failure in elementary and middle school means they just completely quit by the time they get to me. Boys seem even more likely to give up on math.

      • I had no idea. I had just seen some commercials for older children trying to get a foster home and I guess now I know why. I knew someone a very long time ago who got a foster home only so he could work on their farm. So sad.

  7. Welcome Back Grace!

    My daughter was offered a scholarship to a private high school a few years ago. At first, it seemed very appealing. I took a look at the course offerings at several private schools vs our local high school and was amazed. Many of the private school text books and course offerings were out of date. The reading lists for the private schools contained books that my daughter had read in middle school. There were basic art classes, no photography classes, basic computer classes, no computer graphic or excel courses. Plenty of sports were offered ; no after school clubs. Interesting.

    My daughter went to our local high school. She took honors classes, 4 years of Art , participated in clubs, volunteered in our town and had a semester of college courses under her belt before high school graduation. Our high school principal revamped the learning program. He expanded computer classes, added a bakery and a small student run cafeteria, encouraged work study experiences. Also, he expanded the honors program to include a AP testing requirement. My daughter passed 5/5 classes to get her college credits.

    Our principal took a look at the entire student body, not just those who played sports, acted in plays or made the honor roll. His motto was be the best you can be. I think this plan has a lot of offer and I am glad my daughter was able to participate. My husband and I supported our daughter. He helped her with math, drove her to the library, volunteering and taught her how to do laundry (this is an important skill for a college student I have been told). I taught her a few cooking skills, car pooled and encouraged her to read, continue to take Art classes and to participate in her senior art presentation.

    I think education is ongoing– although it needs to be nurtured at first.

    • Spot on, Sue. If parents don’t value education, then how can the child feel that all those years and years (eternities, from a youthful perspective) spent learning are the most important in their lives?

      How can they take on the lifelong challenge of remaining professionally current if learning matters little? How can they adapt to the various strengths and weaknesses of each stage of life?

      It’s still the case, despite the exorbitant loan interest, despite the bad press, that you’ll net more money with a college education, even with an AA degree than without. I’m not sure the subject matter expertise has much do with it, so much as the focus on learning does.

  8. I would definitely emphasize language – reading, writing and speaking are important to get your ideas across and express yourself, not only in the workplace but in your everyday interactions with people. Although I’m not a numbers person, I know enough to know that I do need to use math every day. In my work I use the spreadsheets in Excel and if you want to enter a formula (which are necessary at times), you need to know algebra. So I feel math is important too. I think students need to be exposed to a little bit of everything so that they can make their minds up about how much more they want to learn about the subject. If they aren’t exposed to a subject, how will they know if it’s something that will interest them?

    • I’m with you, but then, I’m from a family that values learning. The schools are up against it, though, having only a few years to cover a lot of territory with scanty resources.
      I also like an emphasis on language skills, because people judge you on how you express yourself. I lot of the moms I come across in the foster care work aren’t that bright, but they have strong expressive language skills, and they’re determined to get services for themselves and their kids. Because they can make themselves understood, a lack of receptive language skills isn’t as big a handicap as it might be otherwise.

  9. You were missed – but absence can make the heart grow fonder… πŸ˜‰

    I have a Bachelor’s of Education myself, and I have always believed that our public education system had been more about teaching people HOW to learn more than about what we teach specifically. Having said that, I believe strongly in practical applications. Fur example – teaching numbers for the sheet joy of playing with then is great; but teaching them so everyone knows how to create, balance and live within a budget is far more meaningful. Those who are meant to use numbers at a higher level will be drawn into that field and those who aren’t will still have basic skills for success in life. Likewise, teaching reading to generate a love of reading is marvellous; but teaching people how to read so they can know their legal rights when signing any one of the numerous contracts they will sign in life is just as valuable. I’m all about practical education done with a dash of fun to keep people engaged.

    One of my favorite activities when I taught was to read Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day with my students, then create a bar graph of the bad things that happen to Alexander. Then we would vote to see just HOW bad each thing was. Language Arts, Math, critical assessment, empathy and a window into what is horrible to each child in my care – shook from one simple activity!

    • My dad taught college for years and said the most important part of his job (at that level) was not to inform–most of what’s known can be gleaned from books–but to inspire.

      Sabrina kinda came down in the same place, but how do you teach a somebody to inspire rather than focus on content?

      As for your pragmatic approach, it never worked with me. “You’d better be able to have this job skill,” was so much attempt to intimidate, not motivate. WHEN the skill was relevant, I usually learned it, but not when I was TOLD it was relevant.

      But then, by the time I hit school age, I had such contempt for authority that I was in no wise a typical student. If some grown up was telling me I needed to do something “for my own good,” no way was I going to be caught dead doing that.

      • Haha! Yes, anything someone TELLS you you have to know is not going to go over will with the understanding, adventure based, discoverers!

        That’s where being sneaky and letting people think they CHOSE to topic comes into play!

        I truly believe everyone has something they can be passionate about learning and as an educator, my job is to help them find it… Using real life as the gateway. <3

        I have had fun with you in class!!!

  10. Well As a college student a mother and daughter to a farmer i find that alot of these are valid arguments to learn said subjects and then some, No I may not use algebra everyday BUT as a scenic designer for theater I do use geometry simple algebra and math alot, I must also know history be willing to do research on time periods and know how to draw to scale diagrams and blueprints so that others may build what I design. I havent entered into the more advanced classes for design yet, so I use no computer software for my work, But I agree that knowing how to do it all by hand before relying on technology is Extreamly important. My parents did not buy me a scientific calculator in HS though they were required. They made me find out how to do every problem long hand even if it ment staying after school and making the teacher teach me how to not just input info into the calculator but solve it by hand. somethings I find should be nessecary classes would be where does our food come from? How we raise, slaughter, and process our meats dairy products and general goods. Horticulture should be a part of science as i believe we should all know the basics on how to grow even weeds at this point. You would not believe how many people i meet daily that dont know how to plant seeds for useless simply pretty plants let alone things that have herbal or nutritional values.

    But lets face it society today has become lazy if technology doesn’t do it for use then people refuse to do it themselves (I know there are very inteligent individuals who do not fall into this category ,so no i do not mean you) But those that would be required to say do math by hand or milk their own cow, plant vegetables or raise chickens for eggs that are so technology relient would most likely starve to death. At 26yrs old I get some of the most unusual looks for mentioning my ability to clean fish and various fowl , Identify various herbs by sight or smell in a garden or in my local area, I shear and process wool from sheep to garment, I can scrape and clean a hide and have very basic animal husbandry for livestock when it comes to aiding in an animal emergency, On top of that I also Cook from scratch and my garden infront of my town house was made to grow practical plants like strawberries and blueberries and various herbs for cooking. I blame my mom for knowing all the rustic things and as she likes to say she prepaired her kids if society goes into a frenzy and the basic way of life collapses. But I am also prepaired for a normal life with technology as well. So Happy mediums Teach it all introduce our children to all skills. I know I am. But if I have to choose my books to be via technology or oldschool print you got me I am an old fashioned page turner:) Old habits die hard.

    • There are few classes of people I admire more than farmers. To me, they’re the last vestige of the renaissance man or woman, being part ecologist, soil scientist, meteorologist, vet, botanist, economist, mechanic, endurance athlete, philosopher, pioneer, activist… and the one occupation without which, all of the others would perish.

      You have an interesting skill set, Kathalina. Glad you’re passing it on to the kids!

    • I think there’s always been a lot of substandard English (which is part of the fun), but social media is largely a language based undertaking, so we SEE more of the boo-boos and slang. Sometimes it’s creative, but other times…. I’m embarrassed for people who’ll put that stuff in the public view.

  11. I like the idea of learning a bit of everything but once someone finds a passion somehow they should be able to fit it in their learning schedules accordingly. It seems that most people are in their third year of college before they start narrowing it down and maybe for some that is needed but I think somehow passions should be followed earlier if possible. And memorizing certain things is past being needed now that we have more technology. Being able to know how and where to find certain facts seems more important to me. And question everything!

    • Catslady, this is where I want to bang my head against the wall. For eighteen years we TELL the children what they must know, when its’ due, how well they did on it, what’s the next course they MUST have to graduate, where to sit when they study that subject, and during which four minute periods they can take a leak.

      Then we throw them into college or the work force or the military and ask, “So what do you want to do with your life?”

      How the heck should they know? For eighteen years, success has been doing what you’re told, not what you love. Then we wonder why our children are violent, bullying, ADHD, ADD, depressed, and covered in body art.

      If passion was encouraged rather than viewed as a behavior problem, we might see some much happier children.

      End of rant. For now. Maybe.

  12. Welcome back, Grace!

    Ironically my husband and I had a very similar conversation with our freshman in college daughter just last night. Her certificate for doing a really great job on multiple Advanced Placement exams came in the mail and she said it was proof that “I’m a good robot”. While she says she just parroted facts, we argued that she had to do so in a well thought out and organized manner particularly since essays were important components of all her exams. At the very least she is a robot with better than average communication skills. πŸ˜‰

    She says the goal of public education has always been to produce good citizens. The question is who decides what skills a good citizen needs and what should those skills be? Let’s not forget the question of “If good citizens are so important, why do we not place more value on the job of molding these citizens?”

    I agree that some of the basics need to be taught – pretty much everything you listed along with real critical thinking skills. We all need to be able to look at a situation and be able to analyze and resolve any problems — or maybe simply improve the situation. If kids are never encouraged to think for themselves, they cannot do this.

    Many people claim it is no longer necessary to memorize facts and information because we have the Internet at our finger tips almost 24/7. Google will never solve all problems even though it is great for collecting information. Children have to be taught how to sort through the information and determine what is important and how to use this to get the job done – what ever the job may be. And what happens when the power is out and we can’t use our favorite search engine?

    I’ve rambled a long time and I’m tired enough that I’m not sure I made my point – a lack of critical thinking and communication skills today I guess. Other’s have done a great job addressing the issue today.

    • I know exactly what your daughter means (see above rant) about being a good robot. The cool thing though is that the good robots, ultimately, are the young people who end up with the most options. Over time, they can break out of the robot mold because they’ve paid important dues when it counted.

      I agree, agree, agree about the analytical skills, particularly when the media has abdicated a responsibility to report only what’s independently verifiable by two confirming sources. Now they reports “the news” in whatever manner cadges maximum viewership–an entertainment and business goal, not a democratic goal.

      In that environment, the critical thinkers will be the ones asking, “Who benefits from portraying our society as increasingly violent, when it, in fact is not?” Or, “Who benefits from locking up minorities and young men in hugely disproportionate numbers to the crimes alleged, or their severity?”

      And we need people like that.

      • Absolutely, Grace!

        If those young people take advantage of the opportunities they gain from their ‘robot’ state, they are more likely to be able to learn to break free and move beyond the robot life.

        And the media? I am amazed on a daily basis of our lack of choices when it comes to news. Do I want to listen to outraged conservatives or liberals today?? Hmmmm. When was the last time you read, watched, or listened to an objective news story that simply reported the verifiable facts? They are hard to come by these days. But that is a rant for another day. πŸ˜‰

        Excellent discussion topic this week. There are many great responses!

  13. Farming is something more people should know about. My husband and I grew up with relatives who farmed. Our son has not had the same experience. We keep reminding him that that poo smell and cleaning that poo up are part of life. There was also the discussion about poo on eggs. When I reminded him what part of the chicken the egg came out of and said that poo was going to get on eggs, I got “eww.” I told him poo washes off the egg. The response was: I have to wash the egg?! Our son has been entertained by stories of hand milking cows. My aunt once called a cow a word that is synonymous with prostitute, because the cow tried to kick over the full milk pail. I got an interesting education in words from that incident. I also got an education in respecting the animal that gives you milk.

    • You get hearty amen from me, Rita. The other aspect of farm life is that everybody can contribute, from the four year old who collects the eggs each morning, to grandma who can shell peas faster than you can knit. Everybody’s contribution helps, and that’s a hard feeling to convey in other settings these days.

      And there is NO comparison between the sweet corn you picked an hour ago, and the stuff you get at the grocery store. NONE.

    • Rita, I spent much of my summers as a child visiting elderly relatives on their farm here in Missouri. I used to help my great aunt collect the eggs from the chicken coop and then sit at a table on the porch to clean the poo off the eggs so my uncle could take them to his customers.

      Those chickens had a pretty good life even though many of them ended up as Sunday dinner. I love eggs, but it makes me sick when I think about the chickens today’s eggs come from. They spend their entire life stuck in a tiny cage being pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, and God only knows what else. To quote your son – eeww!

  14. I still feel that penmanship should be taught – but neither of my college age children can write legibly. And I can not type a blog comment without spell check! but
    I do feel that everyone should know where their food comes from and basic nutrition.
    My college age daughter said that conflict resolution should be taught– she is sitting here doing her tax homework – she feels your pain, Grace. But we both agree that without basic language and communication skills – most everything else is lost!
    oh and any self respecting 8th grader should be able to solve for an unknown. I use Algebra everyday but calculus .. not at all!

  15. I wish I had paid attention in French class. I have a good pronunciation, I just have no idea what I am saying. I failed typing 4 times. I always look at the keys. I thought computers were a fad like the pet rock. So I didn’t give it any of my time.

  16. In high school, I had a “bachelor survival” Home-Ec class with basic kitchen and sewing sections. Budget and financial skills could have been easily incorporated into both sections.

    I’d also add reading and writing earlier. Computers still require that you be able to read the screen. People still have to fill out forms by hand. Illegible penmanship can be dangerous in some cases. I’d also want history. It can teach critical thinking and comparative analysis. But there is so much truth to the saying that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    PS.I have the books, so if you haven’t awarded them, don’t enter me. Thanks.

  17. Let me start off by saying that I have a 7 year old boy that suffers from ADHD and has Asperger’s Syndrome. I held him back 1 year in kindergarten because we knew something was wrong, it just took some time to find the problem. Now he is in first grade and he is still struggling a bit. I find that I have come to hate Common Core that is now being taught. The things that they are trying to teach my son in first grade, I learned maybe in third. We struggle every night doing homework that he finds confusing and to tell the truth, so do I. I think that focus need to be on reading and language skills and math is important as well. I can’t remember being a huge fan of science because I didn’t like doing science fair projects.

  18. Physical Education for sure. Our children are out of shape and need the exercise. Math, you need it even in sewing and cooking. Those fractions. Have to know them. English is a must.