The Old Coot wonders, ‘What’s the hurry?’

I don’t get it. What is it about today’s culture that makes us in such a hurry? We are a society that can’t stop and smell the roses. “Have stuff to do, you know!”

Take how we educate kids these days. We used to send them off to school when they were five. Kindergarten was a place to learn social skills, to cut with scissors and to memorize the alphabet. If you wait that long to start your child’s education today you’ll be chastised and labeled an unfit parent.

Today’s kids spend three years preparing for kindergarten. They know their ABC’s by age three, are able to calculate the square root of a number by age four and can write a thesis on political correctness by age five. If you ask the parents why they are in such a hurry, you get the “we’ve got to compete with the rest of the world” speech. 

I don’t think this is the way to compete, to skip past the different phases of development in a rush to the finish line. The kids graduating from high school today are less educated than the graduates of 50 years ago.

The hurry-up strategy isn’t limited to giving kids a head start. It continues all through their school years. The system is in such a rush to teach reading that they don’t “waste time” with basic phonics. Kids aren’t taught to sound words out. 

“No time!” Educators put a fancy spin on it. They call it progressive, but us old coots know that the “whole language” concept of learning to read is a crock for many of the kids.

The same thing is going on in math class, no time to learn the multiplication tables, no need. Administrators tell us it will click in the kids’ heads, eventually, “It’s magic!” They sit in math class for six weeks and presto, the multiplication tables become implanted in their cortex (by osmosis, I suppose).

“No need to memorize anything!”  

A lot of kids don’t graduate with just a high school diploma these days. Some are halfway through their freshman year of college. They take college courses in high school to get a leg up, which makes you wonder what’s going on that kids have free time for college courses. Why aren’t they spending it in regular high school classes?

In the good old days, our senior year was the busiest of all. Classes all day, minus one study hall. I ask again, “What’s the hurry?”   

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