Monday, October 28, 2013

Is being a student harder than it used to be?

I was reading Pippi Longstocking -- one of my favorites -- to Seconda last week. We got to the chapter where
 Pippi goes to school, and afterwards, Primo, who'd been listening in, remarked: "Wow. These kids are the same age as me -- older in fact --  and they're just now learning their letters?"

It was something I'd never noticed but now I realized, he was right. 

"Yeah, that is funny," I agreed, "They are learning their multiplication tables, too, but it's true, just the basics. No two digit multiplication or division or complicated addition."

The next afternoon, I was helping him get the hang of long division -- and in doing so, maxing out my math skills -- and he observed, "I think school has gotten harder over the years."

"Well, yeah," I said, "That's the point."

"No, no, not over my years," he explained, "In history. Like Pippi was still learning what sound an I made and drawing crayon pictures and I'm leaning long division and fractions, and we're the same age."

"You are probably right," I told him, "I'm pretty sure fourth graders today do more complicated work than fourth graders from the 1950s. Kids start earlier too -- when my parents were little, it used to be you didn't start school til Kindergarten or maybe even first grade and now kids go to school when they're two and learn their ABCs. And then too, we have to compete with other nations, I guess."

He groaned. 

"I'm so unlucky to be a kid in modern times. I should've been born in 1950," he said. 

"Before the invention of VIDEO GAMES?" I gasped, "And cable TV?"

That's what you call stuck between a rock and a hard place.