The 3 R’s for the 21st Century


By Shirley Scott - Boomer Blog



Most Champaign County kids are back at school by now, in their classrooms with their teachers for lessons, curriculum, and hopefully lots of educational adventure and discovery!

Any program of learning must, by definition, include the basics. In my Concord School days, the fundamentals were still occasionally referred to as the 3 R’s. Being a fairly proficient elementary speller, I questioned that neither “writing” nor “arithmetic” actually began with the letter “R.” Nevertheless, I was properly schooled, receiving a sound basic education that has stood the test of time.

In this age of highfalutin verbiage for what kids learn in school – core courses, model curricula, and the like – it still all boils down to Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, does it not? Thus, I have watched time march on this week as viewed through my 3 R’s filter.

For example, I cannot envision a day during which I do not read something. Whether I am between library books or totally engrossed in yet another historical novel, I spend a portion of every single day mentally interacting with the written word. I gratefully attribute this lifelong habit to my mother, herself a voracious reader, who read to us regularly and just as regularly carted us off to the library.

The little people who once populated my life and my lap have all since moved on and away and created little people of their own. But while they were around, it sure was fun to carry on Mother’s tradition by reading aloud a book or two now and then – even if it involved Goodnight Moon every night for a whole month or Hop on Pop for the 23rd time.

According to an article shared on Facebook by Debbie Bair: “Reading aloud to your kids makes them smarter and kinder. And the best part – it’s free, it doesn’t take long, and anyone can do it.” Sadly, another article pointed out that kids read to every day experience 60% more words than children deprived of the daily ritual. By the time they all show up together for kindergarten 1,825 days after birth, a clear education gap has already been established. Just imagine how far along all our children would be if they could hear 1,825 books by the time they cross the thresholds of their kindergarten classrooms.

By the way, I also appreciated a list of words passed along by Gina Van Hoose-Levy via Facebook, words that are fun to read and even more fun to say. Some people are unfortunately “flabbergasted” whenever they are “bamboozled,” and “nincompoops” should learn to “skedaddle” before becoming embroiled in a “brouhaha” or a “kerfuffle” of some sort. I even found three of my own mother’s favorite words on the list, although they were not so much fun when she became “discombobulated” at our “lollygagging” around or causing unnecessary “hullabaloo”!

Moving on to the second “R,” that of writing, I find it interesting to hear that the discipline of cursive writing is back in the news and perhaps even in the schools. Dropped from many school programs in favor of keyboarding skills, this style of penmanship is to make a return to Ohio’s state curriculum, according to a law signed by Governor Kasich last December.

However, HB 58 stopped short of mandating that students learn to flowingly connect the letters of the words they write. Rather, the new law requires the Ohio Department of Education to “include supplemental materials in cursive handwriting in the English Language Arts Model Curriculum.” School districts may then “choose to adopt all or part of those materials.” Now there is a law with real teeth: schools may “choose” to adopt “supplemental” materials!

Personally, I believe it would be wise to reintroduce cursive handwriting for the sheer ability to read our national documents – written in longhand, as they are – or maybe even Grandpa and Grandma’s love letters stashed somewhere in the attic!

Speaking of writing, I am hoping we all will consider and/or renew our efforts to contact our elected officials about pressing issues. Handwritten letters? Perhaps. But every legislator in Washington has a website complete with e-mail capability for ease of communication. In addition, many in Congress and the Senate also have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. If nothing else, forward a copy of my AGAIN article from earlier this month. Write to them, and then write to them again. And keep writing!

As for ‘Rithmetic, let me supply a few thought-worthy statistics for Boomer consideration. Born in the 1940’s, I have lived in 8 decades, 2 centuries, and 2 millennia. No wonder I feel old age creeping up on me! In my time on Earth so far, I have experienced more than 26,000 sunrises and sunsets as well as 885 full moons. I am almost 400 years old in dog years, although that all depends on the breed of the dog. I am 37,603,000 minutes old – give or take a few sweeps of the second hand. The next time the calendar will be a repeat of the 1948 calendar is the year 2032 – when I will turn the ripe old age of 84. Yikes!

So, folks, there are the 3 R’s brought up-to-date. I am still Reading every day, ‘Riting at least once a week, and ‘Rithmeticing until the numbers grow unreasonably exorbitant. Add in some Resting and Reclining – and I am doing just fine!

By Shirley Scott

Boomer Blog

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.