Christchurch Earthquakes and Modern Education
by Connie H. Deutsch
There has been a big push in this country to get away from the old-fashioned concept of learning "the three R's: Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic." Almost all of our schools have abandoned the idea of teaching cursive writing because the gurus of education have decreed that it is more important for a child to learn how to type because everything is now geared toward the computer and texting; they say that cursive writing is time-consuming and not as useful as the keyboard skills.
In my previous articles, I have addressed the importance of learning these fundamental skills and not being dependent on electronic gadgets. I took issue with our students not being held accountable for learning basic math and not being able to count out change from a purchase without the electronic printout from the cash register telling them how much change to give the customer. My contention has always been that there may come a time when we will lose power for very long extended periods of time.
As we all know, Christchurch, New Zealand was hit with two horrendous earthquakes recently. The devastation has been horrific, the second one being more devastating than the first one; the infrastructure has been severely compromised and buildings have crumbled to the ground with occupants falling to their death. For such a small country, the damages in terms of life and property have been extraordinary.
Living conditions in Christchurch have become unbearable with aftershocks continuing all day and night, every day and night. There is no potable water, sewage is collecting in the streets with nowhere to drain off, people who have lost their homes have nowhere to live, there are no first aid supplies on shelves, people are buying survival items, and there are power outages that don't look like they will be restored any time soon.
All of which brings us back to my original concern about people who are so dependent on electronic gadgets that they can't function without them. Electricity is not an inexhaustible resource yet we treat it as though it is. When educators tell us that it is more important for children to learn how to type on a keyboard so that they can send text messages, and learning cursive writing is irrelevant and takes up too much time, then either we have the wrong educators in charge of education or we have a society that can't think beyond the text message they are sending.
As of now, the schools in Christchurch are closed. At least 25% of the population can't use their computers or their telephones. They can't get on the Internet, and their cell phones are silent. Their typewriting skills remain dormant, rendered useless by the power outages. Fortunately for the citizens of New Zealand, students are still learning how to use longhand so they can at least write letters to their loved ones to let them know they are safe. If they can find food on the supermarket shelves, they can at least count out their money to purchase some.
If this crisis should happen in America at a time when our students are no longer learning how to use cursive writing, and they are being taught that their math skills are not essential because they have calculators that always give them accurate readings, our society will cease to function in a meaningful way. Instead of being capable of embracing the information highway we will be entering the Dark Ages of Modern Technology and the Stone Age of Modern Education.