Am I the only one who is concerned that we are getting too dependent upon electronic everything to do the work of the best machine we were born with? I chatted with a middle school-aged boy, trying to determine what he enjoyed besides playing with the phone in his hand that was allowing him to block out my presence right beside him.
Without looking up, he talked about four-wheelers and dirt bikes. At some point I inquired about school subjects that interest him, asking if he enjoys spelling. “Nah, I don’t even worry about spelling stuff. If I start to type it wrong, the computer spell-check fixes it for me.”
Reaching for any argument I possibly could, I told him any girl would be impressed to have a sweet note, written in his own personal handwriting, tucked in to her desk. “And I can tell you, if there are a bunch of words not spelled right, she will knock you right down on the list.” Without missing a beat, he finally glanced up and shot me a look that said ‘are you kidding me, you old granny?’
Then said, “Um, nobody writes notes anymore. Ya text. We don’t do curvy writing, and we don’t have desks. We have work stations.” No lovely hand-written love letters will be treasured, kept under lock and key, one day taking this boy back in time.
Instead, one day he will tell the funny story of how the old fogeys used to communicate with pen and paper and curvy writing. My wistfulness over this is dimmed by my husband’s disdain over basic math skills being replaced by calculators at every age and skill level.
Not long ago, he was training a young woman, fresh out of college. He urged her to put some common sense strategies together when figuring feed rations and simple inventory needs out on the farms. He started with basic questions: How many pounds are in a ton? Then, how many 50-pound bags would be in a ton?
She couldn’t come up with the answer, so he gave it to her. “OK. We’ve determined there are forty 50-pound bags in a ton. So, how many 40-pound bags would be in a ton?” Her answer? “Um…25?” He told her she would need to be able to figure this type of thing quickly, as well as rates fed per head per day. She nodded, but did not seem concerned.
She reminded him, after all, that she had an impressive education — which included a master’s degree — carrying her along to those beautiful farms and back to the office. “Plus, I can always use my calculator,” she said. The next day, he asked the same questions. This time, she was mad at him for asking.
I’ve wondered different times what became of her, because for some reason, she didn’t stick around long…
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