Do we have a choice between technology or love?

Am I a dinosaur – surely not … or a flat earther – perish the thought … or maybe a Luddite… perhaps!

I’ve just been reading about the latest ideas in schooling… apparently instead of teaching children to spit out facts like a computer, we should be teaching them the six C’s.  They are defined as collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence – listed in order of importance.

And this is why I sometimes feel as though I was born into the Stone Age or something similar… I’m not even sure the people who taught me had even heard of the now unfashionable 3R’s. And my grandmother, a Victorian, was firmly of the belief that if I could read, there was nothing  I couldn’t learn… but she had probably never heard of calculus, Einstein’s theory, or even Pythagoras, though she was a mathematical whizz unlike her grand-daughter.

I look back to my school days, when I was so shy and retiring that it actually never occurred to me to tell the infant teacher I could read, so I spent the first year in total boredom chanting letters of the alphabet with everyone else, and following rudimentary stories on an illustrated frieze around the classroom wall. I remember feeling indignant too, when a girl called Manon Tipper started, and the teacher told the rest of my awed classmates that Manon’s parents were teachers and had taught her to read. So can I, I remember thinking to myself.

Things looked up the next year with a wonderful history teacher who galloped through the Ice Age, the Beaker people, Romans, right up Henry V in enthralling lessons that I soaked up, getting ten out of ten on the narrow strip of torn off paper (no exercise books because of the war) on which we wrote short answers to his questions at the beginning of every lesson.

The art lessons were a disappointment to my way of thinking. Lesson one was learning to draw a straight line using short feather strokes. This skill acquired by the class of restless six- year olds, we went on to mastering the perspective of drawing a rectangular box in succeeding lessons. Then the joy of bursting out into colour arrived (no finger painting for us) we had to bring a mottled, spotty, yellowy -green laurel leaf to school, to paint it, red berries and all. But our uncooperative front garden hedge had no berries, so no red for me. I think we were learning to observe as well as train the hand and eye…

Besides the boring, daily chanting of the times tables, (which has stood me in good stead!) we had a bout of mental arithmetic which I hated, but I quite enjoyed learning to write the copper-plate handwriting demanded of us. We spent hours copying a letter of the alphabet in our printed copybooks, using a dip pen and ink – often crossing the nib during our efforts (does anyone know what a crossed nib is anymore?) Using ‘joining up’ writing, nowadays called cursive, instead of printing was a sign of maturity for us.

A waste of time? Perhaps not – again – it taught both concentration and hand and eye coordination. And talking of such things, the boring throwing of bean bags and balancing on an upturned bench as well as bunny hops over them in our regular physical training sessions may not have been as interesting as today’s adventure playgrounds, but they did the job.

We had singing lessons when we learned the folk songs that had been handed down for generations, as well as some of the great classics like ‘Jerusalem’, which meant that everyone could sing together like they still do at the Last Night of the Proms in London every year; and we learned poetry which trained our memories and fed our souls.

For lack of a cell phone so we could ring each other from one end of the playground to the other as my granddaughter explained to me, we played games. We would swing a long rope and run in and out to skip until we missed a beat and tripped, or join a line of others skipping at the same time. At the same time, we chanted: ‘Wall flowers, wall flowers, growing up so high, we’re all the old ones, and we shall surely die, excepting:’ – and here we chanted the names of all the girls who were still skipping, until they tripped and fell out. We practised ball games, and at home alone, bounced it against a convenient bit of wall, swinging it under our legs or swiftly turning around, and learning to juggle two balls or more.

We couldn’t exercise our thumb muscles the way today’s children do on their phones and game boys (which I’m told are a thousand years old now) but we learned the dozens of variations of cats cradles, and played five stones, catching them up in the air on the back of our hand, holding them between our fingers, and tossing, and catching… there were many more and more difficult variations  – it took extreme skill and hours of practise and concentration – much more, it seems to me, than pressing a button on a computerised toy.

Then there were the hopscotch crazes, chalking the squares and numbers on the playground or a pavement when we were home, hopping, jumping – more muscle skill –  the marble crazes, the tatting sessions, French knitting – pushing coloured wools in and out of four tacks nailed into the top of a wooden cotton reel and making a long woollen tube (plastic reels nowadays, and useless for this ) and learning to knit properly. My grandmother taught me dozens of sewing stitches (yes, there are dozens) including hemming stitch, running stitch, herring bone, blanket, daisy chain and more.

When we went to birthday parties we played games like musical chairs and memory games like Kim’s game (a tray of small objects displayed for a minute, then whisked away while we quickly wrote down what we’d seen. I usually won this one). And when we left after dancing Sir Roger de Coverley, the only person who had had a present was the birthday girl herself – no party bags back then..

The difference between that rich but simple life with no TV, computer games or pop concerts, and the life of an eight-year -old today can best be illustrated by one of my first memories – watching a great tired dray horse pulling an overloaded hay wain along the narrow country lane where we lived, leaving horizontal drifts of hay draped along the high hawthorn and hazel hedges. Today I look on fields where huge green plastic rolls lie around waiting to be gathered up in the prongs of a tractor and delivered to a pile of more giant things, while farmers haven’t discovered a way of disposing or re-using the efficient, beastly plastic.

The latest theory on education, the six C’s – collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence sounds wonderfully vague, and idealistic too. I’m sure creative arguments can be raised for these C- words. But I rather fancy a way of assessing children’s abilities that I read a few years ago.

More educationalists are now taking into account other aspects of life and learning apparently, and as I remember them, apart from assessing children’s reading, writing and general knowledge, other talents are now being recognised. They included musical ability, physical skills, ethical understanding, and empathy with animals and the environment. Spiritual aptitude, which has nothing to do with religion, theology or dogma, was the last quality listed, and is perhaps the crown of a civilised life – which surely should the point of education/civilisation ….

The qualities of genuine spiritual understanding would and could encompass many of the ideals of the six C’s, I feel.  In fact, sometimes I think most of the qualities of the six C’s could be reduced to one or two simple, spiritual four-letter words, which cover sensitivity to the needs of others, and therefore collaboration, communication, content, confidence and creativity. Those two four letter words are kind and love. Kindness is easier than loving – love being the highest gift or skill or quality of all, and the simplest and most important. We ask if children are clever or talented, but do we ever ask if they are loving?

Food for threadbare gourmets

Deciding to fall back on my store cupboard for supper, I un-earthed a tin of pink salmon and decided to make pancakes filled with salmon. First make the pancake mixture… six ounces more or less of flour, an egg, and milk. Gently beat the egg into the flour, adding the milk in several goes. Beat until there are no lumps and leave for half an hour in the fridge. Beat again before using.

While the pancake mixture is settling, drain off the liquid from the salmon and make a fairly thick white sauce, using the salmon juice as well as warm milk. Chop plenty of parsley and stir into the sauce, then add the salmon, salt and pepper.

Keeping this warm, begin making the pancakes. As each is cooked, spoon some salmon mixture down the centre, and fold over each side. Sprinkle with grated parmesan, and lay on a fire-proof dish. When you’ve used up the pancake and salmon mixtures, put them in a moderate oven for a few minutes to melt the parmesan cheese, and enjoy… salad or green vegetables make this a cheap and filling meal.

Two pancakes a person is usually more than enough… this makes five or six generously, or more if the mixture is stretched out.

Food for thought

Your pain is not prescribed by your creator, He is the healer thus not giver of misery.
…. lay the blame where it belongs.
Mankind is responsible for its environment and culture….                                                   The day we take responsibility for our actions, will be the day God walks through the door smiling.”

Zarina Bibi – Sufi

 

 

 

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33 Comments

Filed under consciousness, cookery/recipes, culture, environment, history, kindness intelligence, life/style, love, spiritual, technology, uncategorised, Uncategorized

33 responses to “Do we have a choice between technology or love?

  1. And along with that some got to go to Slim School as well. Can you imagine if the the the present generation had been faced with that or the horror of the nanny state in letting children loose in the jungle….. Ah, what they are missing…

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    • Dear David,
      What a treat to hear from you ! Ah, Slim School – well that was another story, wasn’t it !!!
      Maybe I should tell it one day … we were lucky weren’t we ….

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  2. “while farmers haven’t discovered a way of disposing or re-using the efficient, beastly plastic.” – sthe plastic can be recycled: http://www.agrecovery.co.nz/rural-recycling-revolution/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ele, thank you so much for this information which I’ve read with great interest… so glad there is a way for conscientious farmers to tackle the problem… I based my observation on a story about their difficulties in disposing of the plastic wrap, and as we know, busy farmers may not be as totally committed to the environment as others… I base this on living in the country for most of my life, and encountering much hostility and worse, from angry farmers when I campaigned against 245T, 24D and all the other chemicals, treatment of calves etc…..

      Liked by 2 people

      • I live in a farm in a cottage and the farmer burns his plastic, presumably to save money from having to recycle it, or the inconvenience it might incur…so not all are that conscientious

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  3. whoops that should be the not sthe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, the games! Such lovely recollections. I used to love 5 stones and cats cradle. I have taught our oldest grandchild cats cradle which she loves and French knitting, which she didn’t!
    Being kind must be the most important thing to be taught and learned and practised.
    Love your pancakes. I sometimes make a similar dish with the last pickings of a roast chicken. It stretches well!
    All the best to you and yours.🙂

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    • Hello Sally, a bit slow replying at the moment, coping with health problems since my GP changed my thyroid medication…
      those old games were such fun weren’t they… but I fear that only grandmothers know them nowadays… they don’t seem to be normal playground currency any more …
      Hadn’t thought of doing the pancake thing with chicken – must try it… though I did do the same with leftover bolognaise mince, and a cheese sauce…Love, Valerie

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sorry you are having some health problems and hope your medication will be sorted out soon. Pancakes are so versatile are they not? Lots of fillings work though I have never tried bologna isle sauce yet. That I will do before too long. All the best to you X x🙂

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  5. First long comment sabotaged by kitten on keyboard. Let me try again.
    I can identify with most of the childhood recollections, including the boredom of having to learn what I already knew. Much Better Half relates to almost all of it.
    Confidence, as in the precocity displayed by brash brats on American TV, can well be done without. Many of the new fads in education, as with most else, either consist of re-inventing the wheel or are just plain silly.
    Love and kindness – now, there is something to aim for. Surely, though, the right combination of teaching and example, in whatever format, should lead to that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so agree with your comments… and yet, knowing how I struggled with my children’s unsympathetic teachers so often, I’m not sure that love and kindness are common in the classroom, however desirable !
      I envy you your kitten, since we are living in a covenanted forest, dogs and cats are banned as they destroy the native birds , so many of which dont fly… including the kiwi…

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  6. Dear Valerie,

    That last line ” The day we take responsibility for our actions, will be the day God walks through the door smiling.” speaks volumes to me and, I believe, sums up your wonderful article. I think it goes right back to raising children to be kind and loving.
    You brought back many of my own school memories. While I didn’t learn to write with crossed nibs, I did feel very special when I wrote with a fountain pen. (And later drawing with its cousin, the croquille pen). Penmanship was so important then.
    My friend Lucy and I still reminisce about how she patiently helped me over my fear of the seesaw when we were nine. I have many fond memories of the games we played. Hopscotch was great fun.
    Technology can never replace the human connection, will it?
    At any rate, I’ll stop running on and tell you how much I enjoyed your installment. Today I will reflect on the quote from Zarina Bibi and smile.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Rochelle, that was a simply lovely comment on so many levels, thank you so much. I really loved that you appreciated the quote from Zarina Bibi.. it really resonated with me too…
      Yes, I remember the grandeur and the glory of acquiring and writing with a fountain pen, filling it with ink, pulling down the little gold catch, and clicking it back into place !!!
      Been up against it recently, hence tardy reply !! love V

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Valerie,

        Tardy replies such as this are always accepted whenever they come. ❤ Sorry to hear about any challenges. I hope all is well on your end now.
        Love,

        Rochelle

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  7. The miracle is that we are somehow educated despite the prevailing education theory. As for technology; the most advanced piece of equipment in our senior primary school class was the Gestetner. It was a beast of a thing.

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  8. I’d forgotten the jump ropes, Valerie. Such fun! 😉 xoxoM

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  9. I so enjoyed your blog post today. I was raised in a very small country (rural) area…having only 8 children in my classes from 1-7th grade (swelling during fruit harvest season then dropping sharply off) and the 8th through 12th grades having a steady 33 student with the same swelling and drop off). Surprisingly we learned all the same things as you…although the ink pen was a balled-point ink pen.
    Joyfully I had the most wonderful beginning from a Grandmother who was a teacher in her-before retirement life. Every day I thank her for helping me learn to read, write and do ‘numbers’.

    Now as a side-bar note…did you know that script-or cursive is no longer taught in the schools. Only print. Therefore, most young people today, in today’s workforce can not READ or write script. Therefore all of history’s old documents can not be understood by most people 30 and younger.

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    • Dearest Linda, thank you, loved your comment ..letter on its way shortly… GP changed my thyroid medication, and I’ve been having problems with it…
      Absolutely appalled at your info about script… and the result… that young people can’t read it –
      so they can’t even read their grandmother’s letters… !!!!
      Much love, Valerie

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. They will not be able to read anything anyone has written in long-hand anymore. Very sad state of affairs. Although, my daughter (the teacher…has taught her children how to read and write in script)

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  10. Valerie, there is no blog I enjoy reading more than yours. Your way around the kitchen should be famous. I love your recipes, and you have a way of making them sound so easy. And this essay about your education versus the educational aspirations today is poignant. I know there are good points and bad points about many educations theories, but if we move too far from “specifics,” we will have a real problem. The best education I ever had was a love of reading and plenty of books to get my hands on and my head in.

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    • Dear Luanne, that must be the nicest comment I’ve ever received – thank you so much, you are so generous…
      I agree with your comments about education… and also that reading is probably the best education we can have !!!
      The funny thing is that you can’t make bookworms – they seem to be born, so although I read aloud to my children most nights until they were seventeen and we had such fun together, as adults they are Not bookworms !!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s just the truth, Valerie!
        I agree about bookworms, too. I read to my kids, showed my passion for books, even taught children’s literature and hauled all the books around them and talked about them and read books and talked about them with their classes, but my kids are not that interested in reading. It wounds me because I know they are missing so much, but they are such wonderful people otherwise!

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  11. Pingback: Word of the day | Homepaddock

  12. I used to love playing what we called ‘two balls’, juggling them against the wall and in the air in numerous ways to various rhymes. I think there must be less creativity in play and education now and these new ways of teaching don’t seem to do much good with the amount of children who can’t even read.

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    • I think you’re absolutely right, Andrea … plus the fact that literature and history don’t seem to be high priorities either…and was shocked to learn from a comment above, that in the US children are only taught to print, so they can no longer read their grandmother’s letters or old documents or letters … sad …

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Lynne, thank you… it’s always lovely to know that something one’s written has been enjoyed !!!

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  14. ‘Kindness is easier than loving – love being the highest gift or skill or quality of all, and the simplest and most important. We ask if children are clever or talented, but do we ever ask if they are loving?’
    True, but I’m not sure if people would be glad to hear it. It’s a question that’s a prod at the character of the parents as much as the child, after all.

    The life of kids today does rather put me in mind of Ancient Roman decadence, but you can’t blame the kids. They’re barely aware things were ever different, after all.

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  15. I know what you’re saying… the whole thing is a can of worms… and today too often feels far too like the fall of the Roman Empire and a possible Dark Ages to feel comfortable about ….or the first lines of A Tale of Two Cites… “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …”

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