Friday, July 12, 2002

Reading Lileks today, two thoughts occurred to me.

First, I wasn't very good at coloring in the lines in preschool, so my teachers at a British Montessouri school taught me to read instead. First, let me say that I can now color within the lines pretty well. My handwriting's somewhat hard to read, but it occurred to me that it wasn't because I couldn't make it legible, but that it wasn't fun. I do quirky things that amuse primarily me, and occasionally other people. When in band, I tap my foot in the conducting pattern. I like eating with chopsticks. And when I write, I like the way it feels to make my f, th, B, D, and 9 differently from the norm. But I digress. Instead of just having me color poorly or telling me to put my head down while the rest of the children attempted to learn, it occurred to them to have me learn to read instead. I credit this, along with not having many friends in early elementary school due to my dad being constantly reassigned to other military bases, to my large store of knowledge. I've always been a good reader. Being a good reader has made me an excellent speller with an impressive vocabulary (I'm average in math, but I really whip the llama's [donkey] when it comes to the verbal portion of tests). Being able to easily read and understand books meant that I could learn a lot at a faster rate than a lot of other students who hadn't been taught what I had and had the same experiences. I think my point is to say that teaching fundamentals is far more important than simply teaching individual facts (do ninth-graders really need to memorize the different castes from the Indus Valley civilization (I think they refuse to call them Aryans because either they don't know the difference or they're too lazy to teach their students that difference)?).

Oh, and the other idea was that perhaps stores that are likely to have toddlers running around should have little devices that can clip onto the child that trigger an alarm if they leave the building. It doesn't have to be expensive; a clothespin and one of those metal strips on CDs ought to do nicely.

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