Points to Ponder

I think that you may be surprised at some aspects of modern education. We were.

Dave & Janet

Part of an email from a Spanish teacher friend of Janet’s

Dear Janet and Dave,

Here’s an experience I had last week at a tutoring session; I think it would be of interest to any teacher. I was doing an after-school hour with a ninth-grader, a pretty intelligent and motivated ninth-grader in second-year Spanish. In the course of practicing numbers, we were working with simple math problems, I was dictating problems in Spanish for her to jot down, then asking her to read back the problems with their answer, also in Spanish. Even with pencil in hand, she couldn’t do 80 divided by 5. “We didn’t learn to do this; we’ve always used calculators.” In the same hour, to pull together the things we had worked on, I had written down 5 English sentences for her to express in Spanish. She seemed to be having trouble reading the sentences, so I pushed the notebook closer to her, and she said, “No, it’s not that, I just can’t read cursive.” I asked if she didn’t write in cursive, and she said, “No, we never learned cursive.” “Do you always print then?” “Yes, when I need to, but we don’t have to write very much.” They use a keyboard. No comment, as I’m still stunned by it all.

Hope you have sunshine today as we do


BTW The cursive handwriting of the teacher in question is exceptionally clear and easy to read. Definitely not challenging like Dave’s.
In 2000, Dave & Janet met a recent High School graduate in Maryland, who had just been hired to work at a hardware store and was being shown how to sell up propane by weighing the empty tank (17 pounds) and then setting the scale for for the gross weight. He was going to sell us 30 pounds of propane, so needed to add 30 + 17. But he had no idea how to do that in his head.

And several times in our travels in the USA, if the computer/cash register is down, the clerk cannot make change. We have to show them the super simple way to do that.


Greece has been in the news a lot. When we were there in 2008, none of the officials that we dealt with had typewriters or computers. They wrote everything by hand. Everything. Even long, half page or more parts of the forms. They did have printed forms, but many spaces were essay questions, not just check or circle something.


Another also
Dave found a portable mechanical typewriter in the trash in Turkey. It had a Turkish or German key set, but it worked and he announced it on the radio net if anyone wanted one.

Several folks made fun of the idea that Dave was so stupid as to think that anyone would want a typewriter at all. We can only guess that they think that computers have replaced typewriters. Yet, even since then we have several times needed to fill out forms that are often NCR (no carbon required) multiple page forms. In Mexico, those needed to be typed, and if you had no typewriter, you had to hire it done.

So, do these Geniuses have dot matrix printers or how do they fill out such papers? By hand, I assume.

I (Dave) marvel at the number of pdf files that we get that cannot be filled in on the computer. Since our portable mechanical typewriter is on the boat in Turkey, I convert the pdf into a tif file and fill in all but the signature in Paint. I can even paste in a digital signature, but usually, we print it, sign it and scan it for emailing.

And then Dave marvels at the number of businesses that we MUST fax papers to. Email is not allowed as not being safe enough or something. Since we do not have a fax machine, Dave emails the document to one of the free online fax places that then fax the email to the destination. Does that really seem safer??? Exactly how is that better than email?

Dave & Janet
The old Grump and the Cute Young Thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s