As we face toppling over the fiscal cliff and watch as more tax dollars fade in the education sector, I wonder what will happen to our already struggling school systems. Wandering through stores, listening to shows on TV, or just hanging out with the younger generation hanging from our family tree really showcases the effects of the weakening structure in our school system particularly in the sector of our basic language skills.
For instance, what is akst? Used in a sentence it sounds like, “I akst him to get me a Milky Way. I seen him later and we conversated about it while I ate it.” I know they’re short on books but are they opening any at all during their 50 minute sessions in English? They do still teach the subject, don’t they?? Sometimes I wonder if it is English anymore or if it has morphed form of an alien language I don’t understand.
My grandson said to me the other day, “Nana, can I have this orange? It’s more bigger than that one.” “Sure, kiddo, would you like a book to read while you’re eating it?” Actually I responded, “Yes, you may, and this one is bigger than that one would be correct.” To this he responded, “I know that’s why I want it.” Ach.
According to my research a lot of this has to do with how we communicate these days. Texting, e.g., uses emoticons to express feelings or emotion 😦 or :), if you will, rather than standard grammatical symbols such as exclamation points or question marks. Abbreviations are common, and basic grammar such as commas, periods, etc. aren’t used in the way one would if writing a letter or a blog for example. Spelling isn’t important as long as you are in the ballpark, hence all our basic skills are slowly slipping by the wayside, if you akst me.
Also, kids read less. That is sad to me. As a child living in a snowbound country in the winter, I would often curl up with Flossie and Freddie from The Bobbsey Twins, or turn the pages in Alice in Wonderland (ach dating myself) and spend an afternoon lost in the absurd adventures of the White Rabbit or enjoy afternoon tea with the Mad Hatter without looking up for hours. To this day, without a book I feel naked, and usually if you look about my living room you will find several stacked on side tables with bookmarks peeking out of one end.
When our granddaughter was living with us the beginning of this year, I bought four books for her on subjects she expressed interest in. I believe she opened one and read at least half of the first page. When I casually asked her how she liked them, she said books bored her and turned her attention back to Sponge Bob Square Pants. Sigh. Perhaps I have to accept it’s an uphill struggle I’m not going to win.
Another thing I’ve observed is nobody corrects poor language skills in children. It’s accepted, worse ignored. Actually, it’s cool in a way as a teen to sound ignorant or to purposely abuse their native tongue. What are these kids going to do when they get out in the world wearing their grown up pants and find they don’t know how to communicate properly or can’t land a job? Not everyone can afford private schools where kids get more personal attention, unfortunately. Private schools have the luxury of offering more individual attention, more attention to learning in general, as well as a physical education, and the honing of skills useful to raising successful adults. Hard to know what the answer is.
This morning I asked the kid in the grocery store if he’d placed my greeting card one of the bags. “Yeah, I done it already”, he replied with a metal laced smile. Ahhhh, well his parents took the time to fix his teeth it appears but obviously they spend too much time correcting his speech patterns.
It’s not limited to grammar certainly but slops right over into spelling. Without SpellCheck most written documents would be rendered indecipherable. I’ve gotten terribly lazy when it comes to this, so the finger I’m pointing is turning back in my direction as I write. Do they still teach spelling, or stop once the student has mastered where the SpellCheck icon is located on the keyboard?
It seems unimportant, I would suppose, to young minds. Probably, it did to mine. For me, there was no choice as much emphasis was placed on developing a link between my brain and the written word by my parents and my grandparents. I’m glad for that now. At the time I found it almost embarrassing. I can remember saying “pardon” when asked a question once at school and taking some heat for it. Apparently “huh” would have been the appropriate response. After that it was without parents in earshot.
Some blogs back I mentioned having two fifteen year old girls cooking in my kitchen one weekend. There in a supervisory position only, I provided the tools, the recipe, the ingredients and an answer if possible when posed with a question. On their own with flour, dusting everything from the cell phone to the knife caddy, they began to measure out the ingredients. Two batches were on the program as each girl was taking one home to their families. When it came to doubling the recipe things became murky and production ground to a standstill. Math, also deemed unimportant, came into play and nobody had a hand.
I think keeping the beauty of the written word is important. Writing, speaking with grace, and the arts surely need to be considered as important as the 4″ heels on your feet, the permanent eyeliner above your lids, the tattoo of a hoot owl located directly below your navel, or Lindsey Lohan’s last arrest report.
Ah, down off my pulpit I’ll present you with a little piece of heaven, these pecan chocolate squares. I had to freeze what I did not distribute among my friends and neighbors or I would have been hitting the treadmill 24/7.
Decadent Chocolate Pecan Squares
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 4.4 oz. Hershey Bar
1/2 cup honey
2/3 up butter
3 Tbsp. whipping cream
3 cups chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large mixing bowl sift together flour and confectioners sugar. With fork or pastry cutter cut in butter until mixture resembles soft pebbles. Spray bottom of 13 x 9″ pan with cooking spray. Spread dough on bottom of pan and half way up sides.
Bake for 20-25 mins. until edges are light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool leaving oven on.
For topping; in medium saucepan bring brown sugar, honey, butter and whipping cream to a boil over med. heat. Stir in pecans.
Break Hershey bar unto cubes. Distribute evenly over top of the crust. Spread pecan mix over top.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 mins. or until golden and bubbly. Cool and cut into squares.