What’s in a word? Plenty, it seems

I think little of B.C.’s new education curriculum being trotted out this month with much hope and hoopla.

Is the new curriculum under emphasizing the basic reading

Is the new curriculum under emphasizing the basic reading

Thirty years ago, I thought nothing of getting up at 5 or 6 a.m. I think even less of it today.

I think little of many other topics too.

For instance, B.C.’s new education curriculum being trotted out this month with much hope and hoopla.

As I understand it, students will be asked to make things (projects) with their hands rather than learning by listening to lectures, reading, and answering review questions.

“Students have so much access to information right now. So really, if they have the tools and the skills, they could go out and learn whatever they want to.”

Nothing new or revolutionary there. Those of us in our 80s did that back when we attended one room schools with a lone teacher and no electronic equipment.

We read books, encyclopedias, and in the higher grades, studied by ourselves with correspondence courses.

As for teaching today’s students critical thinking, if you lived two miles from school, a blizzard came up, and you had to make your way safely back to the farm, critical thinking took hold right quick.

Today, opportunities to think critically are rare. Students even lack a chance to use their imaginations. Every toy they own is as authentic as China can make it in plastic.

Parents do everything for their kids from laying out their school clothes to making their lunches, and buses shuttle them back and forth to school.

In their free time, they do as their peers do. Rare is the individual who carves a path different from the herd.

I shouldn’t disparage the entire new curriculum. I’m sure parts of it will work for some students, and for some better than for others.

But if they can’t read, comprehend what they read, and spell or write to be understood by others, they won’t be much farther ahead than immigrant grandparents who never had a chance to attend beyond elementary grades.

Most distressing, as so many times in the past, B.C. latches on to a new educational program about the time other jurisdictions who’ve given it a trial run abandon it as a failure.

The Toronto Star in its August 16 edition reported after five years of new math, half of Ontario Grade 6 students achieved only a 50 per cent test score in this essential subject, down from 58 percent in 2012.

One student said she had trouble dividing decimals. Why?

Reading test scores are suffering too as other news reports attest.

If you want proof of poor spelling’s prevalence, look up from exchanging text messages as you walk around town.

A banner in front of a store known for its variety of quality household goods proclaimed, “House Wear.” Would that be a sale on dishes and frying pans or garments such as chefs’ aprons?

Where I waited in line for a prescription refill, the manufacturers’ tower display at my elbow called attention to “Alergy Tablets”.

For examples of both spelling and grammar errors made locally, look for signs hand-lettered in felt tip marker.

Like “Peachs by the case.” Despite the correct spelling of “peaches” factory printed in letters half an inch high on the facing side of each case stacked below.

But I did stand to be corrected by a sign in the window of a dry cleaners: Onsight Embroidery.

I thought that was another mistake and should have been “Onsite Embroidery” as in the location in which the work is done.

Turns out it is the actual name of a business and also a bit of a pun.

And that’s the great thing about the English language and its use. You learn something new every day.

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