Monday, December 5, 2016

Seven things kids aren’t learning

1.  How to interpret a map.
With GPS built into cars and tablets and smartphones, map-reading skills have declined, and young people will no longer know the satisfaction of winning a lively debate with a friend or family member about the fastest or most scenic route selection, or being nimble-minded enough to plausibly excuse winding up out of gas at a crossroads named Nowhere, Utah.

2.  How to write cursive.
These days young folk communicate through texts in lazy lower-case, with liberal use of cyber-shorthand contractions, exclamation points, and emoticons.  The closest they ever come to cursive writing is dashing off a totally illegible squiggle on those stupid electronic signature lines in Walmart checkouts.

3.  How to drive a stick shift vehicle.
My first car had a stick shift (and the starter button) mounted on the floor.  Driving was an adventure back then, especially with bald or recapped tires and no air bags or seat belts, on New England winter roads.

4.  How to fix things.
I could fix anything short of an engine overhaul by myself on that first car, and I learned from both my grandfather and father that if you put your mind to it, you can fix most anything, from a misfiring distributor to a leaky pipe to a tin roof.  Today, I fear most young people have no idea what’s under their car hoods, much less how to fix anything in there.  Shop class used to be part of high school studies for the guys, at least to learn basic tool use, and home economics taught the girls how to cook and care for children and home.  Today such gender-focused studies would be considered sexist and thus evil by liberals.  So now few youngsters of either gender can cook or fix anything.

5.  How to balance a check book, or make change.
I learned early on the value of a dollar, by going to work in tobacco fields at age fourteen, by watching my frugal parents manage a budget, and from school classes.  I ran a two-pump country gas station part time by myself starting at age sixteen, washing every windshield and checking every customer’s oil, pumping their gas, doing all kinds of service from fixing flats to installing snow chains, and quickly figuring change for transactions without a calculator.  For example, change for a sale of $8.40 out of a twenty dollar bill would be ten dollars plus one dollar plus half a dollar plus a dime, or $11.60.  Simple, really.

6.  How to dance.
My parents sent me to ballroom dancing classes at twelve years old to learn a modicum of grace, and politeness toward girls.  Today it’s hard to tell if a youngster is dancing or having an epileptic fit.

7.  How to carry on a conversation without using the words like and awesome.


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