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School Tools - Then and Now



I invite you to stroll with me.

We've all grown up with various styles of schools and schooling. It occurred to me that things have changed dramatically! Oh, sure, they've always changed from generation to generation, but these days, they're evolving into something different than ever before. Hard to know if this is for the better or the worse! School days' bear little or no resemblance to 'my' day - or even my own kids' and older grandkids' days!

I saw a model of a 'learning facility' - for want of any other term - in which there was no instructor, no 'classroom', per se. Each student was in a separate module with a computer on a sterile built-in desk-sized shelf, pecking away on it. Whether each one was studying 'readin', ritin' and 'rithmetic' seems doubtful. Some might be 'studying' video games or - heaven forbid - racy sites!


Considering my own longevity and that of my siblings and parents before me, I've ample access to some experience, not to mention, some artifacts, from those more prehistoric times when students sat at desks and were instructed, examined and encouraged by a teacher at the front of a room lined with blackboards and charts, depending on the subject and grade level of that class. Bells sounded to indicate the end of a class period and oncoming start of another, or of lunch, recess, assembly, or end of the school day

These subjects have been long on my mind and heart. Fine-tuning educational goals and priorities, such as importance of forging ahead technologically above balance of the person are questions I ponder. It sometimes seems we may be turning out bright people with dim sensitivities and limited breadth of knowledge and understanding.

An obviously bright young student on TV says school is 'boring' and desires it to be more exciting. He rejects needing to think about stale stuff, wants exclusive focus in class to pursue new ways to do new things.

I can truly key in to that. Independent thinking is admirable. It's my own M.O. But there are questions. Has he a working knowledge of the 'boring' stuff on which to build the 'new, improved' stuff which he alone visualizes? Does he understand the historical trail and significance of those boring old things? Of course, I must ask myself: need he have any of that? Maybe not. But who decides? Him alone? Will there be individuals exempt from basic education in the brave new schools?

I applaud innovation and radial thinking, but still think that 'new people' (aka: kids) should be exposed to and understand the foundations on which they will build the future. Of course, with their 'instant' mentality, they may prefer to not bother, and with the 'inmates running the institutions' more and more, it begins to seem they won't be asked to. I remember being there, thinking that. My vote didn't change the system, however. Both what has gone before and what is to come through and from it are essential to the progress formula. Aren't they?

School Days, School Days, Good ole Golden Rule Days

READIN' . . .


RITIN' . . .




To provide a full and thorough overview of new style classroom furniture and arrangements goes beyond the scope of this treatment.

But a few examples are eye-opening, at least to these eyes! I'm fascinated!

Those I saw on TV were literally individual pods, outfitted with computers, mainly.

Training camp to prepare students for entering the workforce? Would teachers become virtually superfluous monitors here?

Designed for computer-student orientation

Designed for computer-student orientation

Designed for computer-student orientation

Designed for computer-student orientation

Designed to feel like home - sans parents!

Designed to feel like home - sans parents!

but . . .


Only patience can teach patience.

Only joy can teach joy.

Only hope can teach hope.

Only trust can teach trust.

Only honor can teach honor.

Only openness can teach openness.

It's only understanding that

Can teach understanding;

Only insight that can teach insight;

Only being that can teach being.

Only love that can teach love.

Only life that can teach life.

What facts can teach are simply


Would that patience,

Joy, hope, trust,

Faith, understanding,

Being, love, and life

And all the rest WERE facts

And more than aspirations.

For that, they must be taught

By living, breathing teachers,

Whose living, breathing examples

Reach and touch and speak to

The innocent children

Born into this world of sterile facts.

______© Nellieanna H. Hay

Jan. 1972


so . . .


How shall we exonerate ourselves,

Whose teaching leads to empty lives,

Whose caring leads to wars,

Whose path leads down

Back alleys of the soul,

Whose fertility is barrenness?

Where is the culprit in the crime?

In emptiness? In war?

In backroads and cesspools?

Barrenness? Lost gnerations?

Look again - in the mirror.

How shall we exonerate ourselves,

But In Our Selves?

______© Nellieanna H. Hay



. . .

To The Point

A pencil's sharpened

By whittling and cutting

To a fine point by a blade.

So wit is made keen

To choose the fitting word,

To grasp the essences of things,

To probe how 'things' are made and why.

Courage focuses

To meet adversaries,

To face things unknown,

To be, in truth, - courageous.

______© Nellieanna H. Hay


Educational tools and equipment are not all that is changing about schools. Almost the entire structure and raison d'être for the educational system is shifting, right before our eyes and only barely noticed.

Whether change is for the better or worse remains to be seen, depending somewhat on how and if it could be accurately guaged and whether or not it would be!

For example: Are desireable results to be measured in higher IQs or better individual concepts of decency and self-responsibility? In better resistance to manipulative propaganda on various levels or in better work ethics? In more willingness to stand up for valued principles? In better parenting and in happier childhoods? In greater tolerance and common sense?

These are merely a few possible results that may or may not be involved.

So what should or must be accomplished, - and why? Better still: - who's to be around to measure any such intangible results and values if those values are not being taught and learned? - Who's to care about them? So, does it matter?

Why does that phrase, "going to hell in a handbasket", come to mind?

A modern globe is a self-lit inflateable one,- or a 'blow-up' Earth! Could it be prophetic?

A modern globe is a self-lit inflateable one,- or a 'blow-up' Earth! Could it be prophetic?

The world itself has evolved dramatically. A globe I used for studying geography bears mere outline resemblances to a present-day (or should I say, a momentary) world map! Fact is that any globes and atlases in existence are surely vintage because it is so much more practical to check Google maps and GPS to be sure of most recent shifts of country boundaries and governments, and to know whether even topography is up-to-date, rather than to consult static references such as globes and atlases! Even the most recently published 'hard-copy' geophysical, geographical, governmental representations rapidly become vintage!

Are we precariously perched on shifting sands? Do we know; do we care?



I feel strong impetus to reread Lewis Mumford's "Myth of the Machine: Pentagon Of Power", to refresh my remembrance of his discussions about relationships among technology, government, society and human feeling. I read and studied it 40-45 years ago, around the times I was writing the poems expressing my concerns which are included in this hub. Clearly, those concerns are as alive now as they were then.


Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on August 27, 2013:

Dear Patricia! Thank you so much for coming by and reading my thoughts on education presented in this hub.

I sense we agree on many points about it, though I am in awe of your first-hand record!

My background and that of my parents and siblings in education included a concept that I sense has become almost obsolete, like cursive writing: mental discipline, which is gained by the tiresome, 'boring stuff' you mention being part of the road to 'lurnin'! In fact some of my mourning for cursive writing being taught and practiced is just that. We had to perform tiresome exercises making orderly "Os" - both upper and lower case, and properly slanted vertical sticks, including the beginning and endings that would be part of their use in actual writing. We were graded on these exercises. Students just didn't emerge from those without some ability to write cursive, not only legibly, but often quite beautifully. But even without those results, the mere discipline of it was valuable in developing mental tools with which to work in thinking and developing beyond the exercises.

Probably the most primitive humans could think fairly intelligently, but without the tools of language and math to express, share and develop their thoughts, they remained at the primitive levels. Those tools are forged out of raw materials through discipline and direction.

I love technology. I made it a point to avail myself of it fairly early-on, in the late 1980s and 90s; but even then, I was in my late 50s & 60s, when most of my peers were either unaware of it or were deliberately avoiding it. So I've no quarrel whatsoever with its inclusion in the educational system. What distresses me is when it becomes presented as the ONLY valuable tool and pursuit. There is no reason to exclude any of the tools accumulated through generations of building good educational systems! Throwing out the 'old' is absurd. But that tendency seems to be leading our educational system to slip from being among the best to being rather mediocre by comparison with many other countries'.

You are SO right that the human elements are vital to it, as well. Caring about each individual student is essential to helping unlock his or her potential intellectually, as well as emotionally. There is perhaps even more obvious evidence of neglect of that, when students are so mean and unfeeling toward others to the point they just think of shooting anyone in their way without much, if any, sense of wrong, pity or remorse.

I picked up on a quote while watching an episode of a TV series that sort of touches on that: "Love is like horseback riding or learning French. If you don't learn it young, it's hard to get the trick of it!" - said "Shrimpy", Marques of Flinthshire, in "Downton Abbey".

Patricia, I hope there are more educators like YOU to help heal the wounds in our system, to believe in it and to make it even better than ever! You're so right that 'angels are on the way" - if not always nearby!! :-)

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 27, 2013:

Hi Nellieanna

thanks for leading me here. I do so agree that innovation and new approaches are great but that knowing the 'boring stuff' is part of the raod to 'lurnin'.

The Only Teacher is how we will move our nation forward into one that is concerned with humanity. Without them we would become devoid of the foundation for our interactions with others. All of the advances in technology are great; there is no doubt about it. But the human element, that ability to reach out and give a hug to a child who stands before you crying because their pet died the night before, is a HUGE part of helping children to become wise in ways so much more than intellectually.

Thanks for sharing this, Nellieanna.

Angels are on the way...ps

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on December 09, 2012:

Hello, pstraubie48 -- Patricia, if I may. I've just visited your hubsite to acquaint myself with you a bit before replying to your good comments here on my hub. I've secondary school teaching certification for Texas but never taught. But my 3 older siblings and both our parents were teachers at some time. My sister, Ruth, who passed away @ 92 last spring, taught all her adult life, from college graduation in 1939 till compulsory retirement. She'd taught various secondary grade subjects but her last - lengthy - duty was as a special education teacher for a consolidated school system in a rural area of Texas. She had to circulate among the schools in the district. Her students were hard to reach and it was her special talent to be able to reach them. But - similarly to the complaint I hear from teachers now - and yours about overdoing testing, she was constantly harassed and limited by being required to stick to a rigid curriculum. Her imaginative and innovative ways to stir her special students' interest in learning were not in the curriculum! The curriculum had no heart and little in common with those kids. She had heart and, though a Mensa, she had always been a bit of an 'oddball' & had experienced difficulties from which to relate empathetically. It was most frustrating for her.

'Progress' - ah, yes. Our society has become so hell-bent on progress that it's led us to become less and less the best educated nation, falling behind the so-called 'third world' nations in many areas. Real progress in education takes into account the whole-person-student. As you say - it doesn't throw out the baby with the bathwater! Excellent comments from you. I appreciate the first-hand, real-time report from the system!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 09, 2012:

This was very interesting. I retired last fall earlier than planned but I am glad that I did. What bothered me about education in most recent years was that whichever way the wind blew to usher in a new program, that was the program for that year. Just when you learned that one, something took its place. Time for teaching was no longer present. It was test test and retest even at k i n d e r g a r t e n level. And more new programs were ushered in. O, my. The biggest complaint I heard and I voiced was that if they would let us alone and let us teach, kids would learn.

You have a lovely job of covering this topic....progress IS great....but throwing the child out with the bath water is not the way to go.... Voted up....sending Angels your way :) ps

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on December 08, 2012:

Dear MsLizzy, Thank you for visiting my hub on changes in education - methods, subjects, - almost everything! And thanks for sharing your marvelous additions (and votes)!

I love your remembrance of your great-grand-aunt Emma. Her bell is such a treasure! I've bookmarked your hub to read soon. Like you, there are personal recollections of schooling & schoolteachers in my family, - going back to one-room schoolhouses, vividly, too.

I'm trying to trim my comments to you here. You see, my habit is to write what are practically hubs (branching out beyond the current hub subject) as comments & am trying to redirect that habit! haha. You've inspired me to actually begin thinking of another hub about education, more from my personal experience, so I trimmed some of this for that; & still my comment is long! But plenty more for a hub! :-)

I must mention that I started first grade @ age 4-1/2 in Miss Willy Long's one-room-schoolhouse, where she taught all 8 elementary grades in that one room. Discipline was a 'given'. Miss Willy's story probably somewhat parallels your Aunt Emma's. As you say, teaching was the only option for spinsters then.

I did the math; Aunt Emma would have been 13 when my dad was born & 15 when Mother was born 2 years later. He taught Mother in a rural one-room schoolhouse when he was a 10th grader & she was in 8th. Back then, good students were sometimes commissioned to teach in rural schools needing teachers, you see. He taught two years, she caught up with him & graduated; then they went on to Junior college together. She was ambitious enough but his encouragement to seek higher education resulted in her earning 2 degrees simultaneously @ the Univ. of Chicago in 1917, with flying colors . It was still well before women suffrage was a reality. She was into her own mini-suffrage campaign as early as 1912, according to her diary.

Haha! When I was in school there WAS no TV, so it wasn't a bit missed. Plenty of provisions and opportunities for a young bookworm to pursue reading! When I was a senior in college, my sorority house had a B&W TV with a tiny round screen. We watched the limited coverage of the primaries for the 1952 Presidential election on it.

Yes, many things have changed!

These new ideas of starting lessons for children even in the womb, & force-feeding facts are going far too far, in my opinion. Childhood is a unique and wondrous time for a new person to identify him/herself & explore things in his/her own ways; - - to be a kid, in short.

Specifically - your succinct example of what sums up to be 'forced reading', making a chore of what was & still is one of my & your absolute greatest pleasures, is a sad, sad example of the backlash of these new methods which may further obliterate the pursuit of learning at one's own pace for the sheer love of it, without bulldozing down the historic sequences which have brought us to Today & should accompany us into Tomorrow.

But, sadly, the results of these new educational ideas seem to be producing either 'wise-acres' who have little respect for elders or 'classic' thinking & believe their 'new' way (formulated on residues of the technological learning methods of their own selection which may be innovative, but are unilateral) is THE right way; OR a class of 'left-outs' who don't have means to the electronic paraphernalia in order to shine forth in the new school environment.

It may be that those punkish 'achievers' will actually become the new leaders & will launch ever more corporations which insulate people away from basics. But without roots & respectful knowledge of what's gone before possessed by either leaders or followers, the results could be dire, indeed. 'Undereducated society' includes both extremes, I think. Real thinking/feeling/BEING are marked & targeted to become just 'collateral damage' in war on individuality & humanity. Unless. . . . .

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on December 07, 2012:

What excellent points you raise. I wrote a hub on educational shifts about a year ago; mine was somewhat personal, being centered around memories of a great-grand aunt who taught school back when teachers had to supply their own school bells. (I still have her bell.)

"Dulling the brightness..." indeed. I fear that our preoccupation with testing, and 'teaching to the test,' has indeed resulted in a learning deficit. I also find that the more programs they invent under the guise of "improving" education "no child left behind," etc., actually do the opposite.

The latest I have heard of is the "Lexile level" in reading. My eldest granddaughter is being subjected to this particular bad idea. All the books kids might read have been assigned a reading level number; the kids are then tested somehow to determine at what level they should be reading, and what next level to achieve. At the end of each book, they must go onto the computer and answer a series of questions about the book--essentially a test. Naturally, a certain number of books per semester must be read. This on top of homework for other subjects. In my opinion, this has done nothing to encourage reading, rather, it has made it a drudgery; a chore, and something to be avoided at all costs for a spare time activity. I see it happening with my granddaughter--she does not want to read just for fun anymore at all.

Even when I was in school--I loved reading; in fact, my father refused to own a TV, so we read. I was a voracious reader, and still am at times, though I no longer have the luxury of enough time to read as much as I'd like. However, as much as I loved reading, the assignment of having to do a book report killed the enjoyment of the book for me, for instead of reading it for the pleasure of the story, I had to shift my focus and think of the requirements of the assignment instead. To this day, I cannot remember any of those books, and if I did, probably could not tell you what they were about.

I do fear that this trend is a deliberate attempt to create an under-educated society which questions nothing done by TPTB (The Powers That Be), and that we are on the road to a dictatorship. I do not wish to live long enough to see that come to pass.

Loved your poems, by the way!

Voted up, awesome, interesting, useful and shared!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on December 04, 2012:

Thank you for such a lovely compliment, Nicola! I try to live a heathy life and think with positivity. Seems to help fight off withering! I plan to live to at least 100, staying healthy, so I must keep healthy along the way! It's a good goal. I was 56 in 1988! haha.

I just read your 2 poems with nature inspirations and symbolism. I'm quite impressed with your ability. I totally agree that nature is a great inspiration for a poet. My poetic muse is Emily Dickinson, who led a very reclusive life and wrote both about life and the nature all around her which she loved. I made a tribute in a hub to her with a poem I wrote in 1972, inspired by her. My poetry & my life were compared to hers by some dear friends. I'm featuring that hub in my "In the Spotlight" section of my profile, if you'd like to real it.

Your chats are most worthwhile!

Nikola Stankovic from Serbia on December 04, 2012:

Just to end a few more things before we end our chat, for now. May I say you look great for your age and yes, 1988 was way before I was born.

I would also like to add that the nature has inspired me to write poems about it and right now I'm writing a few songs with Christmas spirit, but also all with nature symbols in them.

Thanks to you too for a pleasant chat!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on December 03, 2012:

I understand that! Apple products aren't' cheap here, but about the same as comparable PC-based products. People are so dependent on electronics, it seems we 'squeeze out' the cost of them. I try to think of 'value' and whether it will hold up and serve well. While others are getting regular manicures and hair styles, or whatever,

I like to upgrade my electronics when I can, but like to to take good care of my things and make them last. It's just that I bought my first computer in 1988 -- maybe before you were born? haha Many new developments have occurred in all those years. I've tended to want to keep up with the best advancements.

But, oh yes - one can be too wrapped up in all this and it's all just 'hot air' in a way. Nature and the realities of land and all it has to offer are much more real and gratifying - and how I grew up.

Even here in my home in Dallas, I enjoy the squirrels and birds that come around. We must relate to nature, or we lose some of our own humanity. I live here because it's where I've progressed and it's too remote for me to live alone down on the ranch, literally. (I'm almost 81, you know!) But I can be there from time to time and see the deer, wild turkey, all kinds of birds and wild animals - and all the many things of nature. It's very rugged country - lots of rocks and canyons, cactus and thorny vegetation, but it has an aroma and a 'heart' I simply love and to which I relate.

Thanks for an enjoyable chat!

Nikola Stankovic from Serbia on December 03, 2012:

Again, I totally agree with you. Mine problem with Apple products is that they are way too expensive, at least in my country. I figure that they are good and that's the reason why they aren't cheap, but me being modest I like to enjoy every piece of life :)

I too like to stay away from internet for some time. I really enjoy the outdoors and the animals. I own a lot of pets and I also love to explore the forests, hills and other kinds of places that I have near my home. I would choose wild life among city life anytime.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on December 03, 2012:

I'm happy to see that you've your internet back, Nikola - and for permitting me use your real name.

I've spent long durations where no internet was available for hundreds of miles. Does that surprise you, coming from here? It's at my ranch in far southwest Texas - a very primitive place. (I actually live in north central Texas but down there was my roots). Now there's internet down there via satellite but I'm not there enough to subscribe to it. But it seems like the world is shrinking, doesn't it?

My reference to Apple was that you had mentioned you'd never owned one and wouldn't want to. I find Apple products are generally superior and less prone to glitches and other problems, probably because the hardware and the software are designed and manufactured by one entity.

Oh, well, that's just one opinion. The main thing is to have a computer that works! And as I said - I'm glad yours does and has its internet connection.

Nikola Stankovic from Serbia on December 03, 2012:

No problem and yes, you can call me Nikola :)

Don't mind my ironic username. I didn't have internet for 5 days so that's the reason why I'm answering now.

I do agree on everything you said and for the computer question, I'm not sure what computer I own, it's second hand and not really expensive, but it does the job. Thanks for answering, it was my pleasure reading your words.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on November 27, 2012:

Thank you for visiting my hub. Would it be too presumptuous if I call you Nikola? Somehow 'Lazy' doesn't suit you, though 'Ambitious' probably does." :-)

Of course, I can see that the changes I've mentioned in schools are in more developed countries, though my point is that so much of value has been left behind with these changes which seem to be too much, too fast.

Differences are all around, including here in this country. It's been a long time since I was in school myself. I graduated from the University in 1953! I've not really visited a classroom since I did my student teaching in grad school in 1954!

But just being aware of changes throughout society makes me concerned about whether we trade real value for glitter too often - "we" being human beings, wherever we are. It's a human tendency to be attracted to the shiniest prizes and to neglect the more 'hum-drum' REAL values. Nowadays the glittery stuff seems to outweigh all else.

You don't own an Apple but you are online. So what computer do you prefer? It's amazing how computer do open doors all across the globe we'd never get to open.

It's good that your country has a good scholastic record, but - yes - too bad the graduates of the system can't find jobs there. They could do so much for their country if they stayed. But I'm afraid that's becoming a more world-wide problem. Many graduates here are unable to find jobs, too.

Thanks again for your visit and good comments.

Nikola Stankovic from Serbia on November 27, 2012:

Great hub and I agree with you on the most things! Not gonna argue, but I'm just gonna say that this is mostly in more developed countries. In Serbia for example, where I live, schools are still like you described in your time. We sit in desks (sometimes 1 student and sometimes 2), we have a chalk or white board, we don't use electronics in our classes (except I.E.) and we have 45 min. class with a 20 min. break in between third and fourth class. My family isn't really rich, but we have money to survive and buy a few things on the side, like guitar, computer, pets, going out.. But I don't waste money just like that when I don't have to, I'm not spoiled. I haven't owned an Apple product in my life, nor do I want to. Just left to say that it's almost all the same except the teachers are less strict now, but still our country is one of the leading countries in smart students and good education. Too bad everyone leaves the country as soon as they graduate because they can't find a job here.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on November 24, 2012:

My pleasure!

I just looked up more about Malayalam, since I'm ignorant of it, even though I admire things Indian. I listened to a lovely song on u-tube, sung in the language. A very musical sound - and a very romantic song with two attractive people!

It's almost 3:00 AM - so I'm signing off now.

Anil from Kerala on November 24, 2012:

Thank you, thank you so much. Your words are helpful for refreshing my ability. Thanks again

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on November 24, 2012:

Thank you, Anil and Honey. I saw on Google that an Anil Gupta in India started something called the Honey Bee Network. If I'm not being too presumptuous, I was curious whether you've any connection to that, considering your profile name; and somehow the good outreach of that work seems compatible with what I know of you.

I admire your education. And it's wonderful that you enjoy reading and writing, and are brave enough to do so, even in English.

I'm so impressed by people who can write and think in a second language! I studied Spanish all through school and grew up in a town only a mile from the Mexican border, and associated with Mexican folks speaking it. But though I made good grades in it (very good at the grammar & vocabulary), still, I was never proficient in conversational Spanish! I wrote in Spanish for assignments, I'm sure, but it wasn't exceptional, by any means.

I've loved expressing myself in writing (in English) all my life, however. I was dismally shy about speaking up, even in English, for the first half of my life. I've laughed and said it was no wonder I wasn't good at speaking Spanish, since I wasn't even good at speaking English, which is my native language! I have overcome that, however & have NO problem speaking well. But I'm 80 and for the first 40 years I was very quiet vocally.

Anil from Kerala on November 23, 2012:

Ok mam, I an Indian citizen.I took graduation from MG university and have postgraduate D. in computer science.I like reading and writing especially poems.My native language is malayalam.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on November 23, 2012:

Anil and Honey- Thank you!. I appreciate your appreciation! I perceive that you're an educated person with deep concern for the process and all that it bodes for the future.

I'd like to know more about you and your background.

Anil from Kerala on November 23, 2012:

Hai wonderful wonderful readings I appreciate you. how I count its value thanks thanks for sharing

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on October 14, 2012:

MT, I so appreciate your approval of my hub's thesis, noticing as I have that you're a thinking person and writer.

I agree that there are no easy answers, which I didn't set out to provide, fortunately. :-) Raising questions and sparking interest in the causes was more my impetus for writing it.

It's only one example of the general trend which may sometimes be improvements and just as often, be ushering in disasters. Being alert and aware of what's actually happening, rather than being too easily programmed, is sort of my main theme.

Having been around a good while and observed a lot of change, I've little doubt that change is here to stay: - it's almost the definition of life. But when we can, we may need to give it a bit of direction - or be ready to suffer the outcomes!

Thank you for the vote up and for your generous comments!

Shasta Matova from USA on October 14, 2012:

You've raised so many good points about education and how it changes over time. Unfortunately there are no easy answers. As you said, it depends on what criteria you use to make your judgment. I'm sure that some things get better over time, and other things get worse. Voted up.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on October 05, 2012:

What you say is true, Genna. The ruby slippers' veneer wore off some time ago and the yellow brick road is an illusion built on quicksand.

The attitudes fostered by what gullible people see and hear on TV and as it's put into everyday practice are so poor and diminishing. Early on, I realized how so much of the stuff that's passed around online, especially in the form of jokes, literally demean authority, respect for parents, women, dads, established standards, people's misfortunes and differences, etc, etc. In the name of humor, the foundations of our civilized social order are systematically and insidiously weakened and destroyed. To oppose "humor" is tantamount to taking a stand against the Constitution and all things sacred, so it's an almost foolproof sneak attack of which people seem totally oblivious or are even passively supportive of the bad messages which it so easily distributes online.

Of course ads are another. People are led like lemmings by absurd propaganda designed to do just that in order to sell stuff, much of it unnecessary junk. The content of programs - - well, it's incredible.

Then simply the interaction online of people who've been conditioned to treat each according to all those low standards puts the final twist to it all.

The amazing thing is that there are still quite a few really honorable and civilized people in spite of it!!

I am a firm believer in individual's influence and power to make a difference. Also in the historic 'pendulum swing' of attitudes. So there is hope in spite of all the discouraging evidence to the contrary. In fact, one must be aware of what it IS in order to know to stand for better.

The old song, "Accentuate The Positive (and Eliminate the Negative)" was never more applicable than it is now!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on October 04, 2012:

Nellieanna, I think you and I could chat about this for hours. When I see the trash on television that is turning minds into mush, I cringe. Is this the measure of what we have become as a society?

And what about the so-called news media? I’m quoting myself here, but… Equally disconcerting is the fact that objective reasoning, systematic research, critical thinking skills and knowledge seem to be giving way to the fast food approach of being spoon fed everything we need to know, and how and what to think, in 60 second sound bites of information as if we each had the IQ level and attention span of a gnat.

Heaven only knows where we’re headed, but we left Kansas some time ago, and our ruby slippers will not get us home.

Thanks for your very thoughtful comment! :-)

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on October 04, 2012:

How true, Genna! Such thinking as is fostered is DEPENDENT thinking all too often. The basics are not stored in the recesses of their brains, but must be retrieved from search engines, IF they know the keywords t access them! I shudder to think what happens if the network supporting those resources fails or falters - or becomes seriously infected with incorrect information. It's vulnerable, face it! The users' ability to recognize bad system information is so intertwined with the system and untrained in independent critical thinking, they're likely to accept whatever they're fed. If the system is damaged and feeding them nothing, where would they turn? it's alarming.

They can barely write legibly, they spell atrociously, grammar is virtually unknown, let alone the reasons behind its standards, - -etc. etc. Do they have any idea of the multiplication tables and hr reasons behind their logic? I wonder.

But haven't generations as long as history wondered where the next ones were heading tragically? My hope is that this is just another chapter in mankind's history, bringing some progress, some regress and overall - providing slits in the great unknown through which good things can seep through and become part of the fabric of our evolution,- things which wouldn't have been foreseen or able to be fore-planned. So it is and shall be, no doubt.

Thank you wholeheartedly for your visit and comments!

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on October 04, 2012:

What education seems to be churning out these days is the inability to think. To apply reason, and critical thinking and problem solving skills in ways that are both critical and creative. Technology and science are vastly important, but creativity and the humanities should not be sacrificed in their wake. Superb hub, Nellieanna! :-)

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 30, 2012:

Thanks, Rasma! Oh, that would be so interesting to know more about what schools were like for your parents in Latvia. Somehow I'd imagine they were serious and straight-laced. I'm glad your parents got to finish university! It's always an accomplishment, though it only launches one's real education. That's why it's important to have gotten the basics on which to keep building - why it's called graduation! One's not 'there' yet!

I suppose there are advantages offered by schools today, IF the basics are included and have been included all along. The sad thing is that those are too often lacking in enough depth to sink in!

What all of us living now have going is that we can avail ourselves of most any part of the internet from which we want to learn! Wow!

Hugs and thank you again!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on September 30, 2012:

Voted up and awesome. Thanks for sharing this informative and interesting hub. Love the pics of your parents. Can't even imagine what school was like for my parents here in Latvia but they both managed to finish university before war time broke their worlds apart. I remember my school days and they too seemed rather primitive even though it was the 60s in NY. I sure would have enjoyed school days today with all the wonderful and fascinating things I could learn and check out on the Internet. Thanks for sharing and passing this on.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 29, 2012:

Thank you, dear!

I wonder whether singing the national anthem & reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance" is practiced now. I wonder if any of the teachers know them!

Yes, other evidences of student's progress than readin', ritin' & 'arithmetic were given attention on report cards for parents' benefit! I think 'daydreaming' was mentioned on mine. The actual progress, not just the results in the academics was reported too, as you say! Those 'finals' - ugh. We knew to expect them & knew to be prepared! Sometimes they included 'T-F' & multiple choice, but I favored essay questions! Seemed to give me more latitude & a better shot at hitting the jackpot! haha

A story one of my family would tell about a student in an Old Testament history class was that he'd heard that the Kings of Israel were to be the main focus of the exam, so he had them down pat. When the question was about the main prophets & their influence, he hedged: "Lord forbid that we question or examine such holy men as these, but here are the Kings of Israel!"; he passed the exam!

haha - there were no ballpoint pens when I was in grade school. In fact, they were barely in use when I graduated High School (1948). I still have a lovely sleek silver 'streamlined' fountain pen given me by my boyfriend about that time! I filled & used it through college happily.

In school practicing circles and slants to refine penmanship was done with pen and ink - not fountain pen, but the kind one had to dip into the ink repeatedly. The inkwell built into the desk got a good workout!

Yes - calculators and computers furnish such convenient and accurate facts. But I can't imagine relying ONLY on those tools! One needs to be able to figure in one's head, spell with out spell-check, supply answers from one's own stash and reason out solutions to immediate situations without referring to Google!

You've stated it perfectly, Alexandra. "A solid foundation gives one wings to soar.". Thinking that Dimitris' article on freedom and slavery of people must trace back to mental & educational freedom of thought & to think as life occurs vs. letting it slip past or away. It's not 'given' but earned and can't be taken, but only failed to be available, acquired or else relinquished. Despots have always understood the power in depriving people of education or even of knowing & valuing it. Our society - all societies - are simply watering it down & relinquishing it as being useless. Those watching how it really adds up, know better. All they need to do is wait and manage the puppet strings.

SilverGenes on September 29, 2012:

I had forgotten about all those tables to memorize and the reciting of poetry! We started every day with the Lord's Prayer and sang the national anthem, too. I know prayer is gone now but do they still sing the anthem? I wonder. Those report cards were actually a good indicator and mine always included notes to parents about attitude, what needs work, and where we were excelling. We had exams then - one set before Christmas, another before Easter break, and the finals in June. Nothing was open-book, either. We weren't allowed to use ballpoint pens when I was in grade school either. We had to become proficient with ink first - it was more difficult to ensure a flowing script with basic pens and ink. You brought back a lot of good memories - I feel sad for kids who miss this experience. While tools like calculators make it easier, there is nothing like the satisfaction of doing math the old-fashioned way. You can't help but have an understanding of the principles and the reward is a tremendous feeling of pride in accomplishment. A solid foundation gives one wings to soar.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 29, 2012:

Alexandra -- perhaps 'real education' went the way of the dinosaurs!

I most definitely date back to those same memories. That there were ONLY paper grocery bags also coheres. ;-)

Oh, yes - studying those dead languages on whose back our own developed is an underlyig powerful tool for understanding the nuances of ours and its relationship to other 'modern' languages. It's fascinating. I pity the students today who scarcely know how to spell, conjugate, or choose the right word for the context, much less of any of the history that brings our ability to communicate to where it is. They just throw in any old set of alpha letter that might or might not really communicate whatever was intended. One needs to know their 'shorthand' to figure it out - if it even can be deciphered!

Inkwells, subject workbooks, memorizing lengthy poems and scripture passages to be 'recited' aloud before the class, learning multiplication and chemical element tables, practicing penmanship, serious reading assignments, research papers, report cards with "E" for excellent, "S" for satisfactory,"U" for unsatisfactory and "F" for failing which rewarded the personal effort and diligence of a student's work periodically. They had to be signed by a parent and returned for reissue next grading period. They became 'shopworn' by the end of the year from much handling. These 'marks' focused on one's own performance as it measured up or fell short of it, rather than representing a competitive scale with other students. One became aware of one's own directions and possibilities and inspired to reach them.

Oh yes - foundations for building knowledge aren't necessarily obvious. What is unmistakably obvious is whether or not sturdy buildings of knowledge are being built. Unfortunately, it's seeming they're lopsided at best and generally weak and wobbly at worst and lacking the basic foundations. Your experience in the courses you went back to get are only too typical. One need only see Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" interviews with random folks on the street - often college grads, even teachers - to be horrified at the flimsy veneer that serves as education, based on their pitiful lack of even the most basic facts and understanding.

SilverGenes on September 29, 2012:

Your hub did too things for me. It brought back fond memories, because I date back to A Child's Garden of Verses, time when we used paper grocery bags as textbook covers. We studied languages like Latin and Greek but they disappeared shortly after I left school. It may sound like a dead language is a waste of time but the ability to discern meanings by understanding derivatives has been priceless for me. The way schools are changing is very disturbing. I think your point about lacking foundation is of particular concern.

A few years ago, I decided to go back to school and do some computer courses (and other courses, too). I was very nervous because it had been many years since university and I wondered if I would be able to handle that sort of workload. I needn't have worried. It was an experience close to what I remember from about a grade 10 level and that was a shock! It did not inspire confidence in the education system, nor in the young professionals it produces! What happened to real education?

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 29, 2012:

Christopher, your little poem brought tears to my eyes. Of course, my Dad was such a schoolmaster in that little rural one-room schoolhouse where he taught 8 grades, where Mother was one of his 8th graders and her two younger sisters were in their own lower grades. In my stash of old photographs stored away is a picture of that schoolhouse. Dad recognized Mother's good mind and encouraged her to pursue her education, which she did through 2 degrees @ University of Chicago, plus additional graduate work here in Texas to earn a Texas teaching certificate, for some substitute teaching of her own in public schools in her later years. They'd have loved your Oliver Goldsmith poem! And I shall treasure it!

My own education started in such a one-room schoolhouse, but in the little Texas town where I was born. It was under the auspices of Miss Willy Long, who taught the 8 grades there. I was just 4 and the only 1st grader. It wasn't Miss Willy's sternness that intimidated me so much as those much older students, whose seniority over me echoed that which I endured at home with my own 3 older siblings. It's a wonder I ever found my own voice and legs to escape on!! haha.

Thank you for a most enjoyable comment, my friend.

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on September 29, 2012:

Hi Nellieanna.

Your excellent hub inspired me to re read this poem that I learned at school, The Village Schoolmaster by Oliver Goldsmith. I'm pasting the first lines.

"Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way

With blossom'd furze unprofitably gay,

There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule,

The village master taught his little school;

A man severe he was, and stern to view,

I knew him well, and every truant knew;

Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace

The days disasters in his morning face;

Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee,

At all his jokes, for many a joke had he:

Full well the busy whisper, circling round,

Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd:

Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,

The love he bore to learning was in fault."

Things have changed a lot since then. I'm not sure for the better.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 28, 2012:

Mhatter - ah! Yeah, it's hard to feel good about it and also feel like crying about it at the same time. I'm glad that the good feeling wins! Hugs. Thanks for the visit!

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on September 28, 2012:

As a Mason, I raised a lot of money for SF's public schools. How they have changed! If I didn't feel so good about what I was doing, I would cry. Thank you for this.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 28, 2012:

Maria - so true that the impersonal/technical model was less intense in 1967-1972, but it was gaining momentum. I could see its effects both in my sister's and my ex's teaching experiences, as well as my children's student experiences. My son was able to see through the façade, and realized that the secret to getting the grades to qualify for the college to which he aspired was a matter of stuffing original thinking & ideas, mouthing shallow facts and reflecting back only the opinions of the teachers, even when they contradicted all good sense, which his intelligence easily recognized. I watched It change him from a very bright, idealistic young boy into a growingly disillusioned, jaded young man forced to trade in his true nature to 'win' at the school-game.

About that same time as those poems, I formed a concept that the next significant war would be for the minds and hearts of human beings. It is proven almost constantly now.

I worked as an engineering draftsperson and department manager and left just as the architectural drawing I'd done for 8 years was beginning to be supplanted by computerized work. I learned to do it that way on my own for my own projects, but there was something 'lost in the shuffle', I think. It was of value to have first learned to do it with my own hands, eyes and reasoning.

Thankfully I've managed to embrace technology which didn't exist for half or more of my life in so many areas in which I first had long and strong background in manual, personal techniques. So I'm intensely aware of the possibilities, the contrasts & the trade-offs involved. When it comes to young minds, there are no acceptable trade-offs in favor of a sacrifice of their first-hand experience & grasp or an overbalance of impersonal technology. That's my take on it.

Your experience in the health services is so crystal clear in this regard. You've summed up the most glaring consequences so well. Loss of honesty and ethics, of real effort and the multiplying benefits of doing the work oneself - all rapidly vanishing,

You have the right idea - to continue exemplifying the values and valuable choices. We can only truly influence and exercise our own behavior and attitudes. Doing a good job of that can make a difference! We can see that, "Now there is one of us!"

Thank you!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 28, 2012:

Mark - so good to see you. It's gratifying that people I highly respect see and agree with some principles I aimed to highlight in this article.

While technology is valuable & important, it's sterile and lifeless without the humanities with their inherent connection to our own humanity. What a nightmare to visualize a world dominated by technology and regimentation, and devoid of depth and breadth in all the other disciplines. We're too rapidly approaching that model, I fear. Thank you so much for your insight too.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 28, 2012:

Ah, Billy - I can imagine the frustration. I've Texas teaching certification but married right after I did practice teaching and received it & never taught. I've watched over the years and observed my sister Ruth's long teaching career. The sense is that too much of value is washing down the drain.

Examples abound and began way before the current trends, which you surely encountered full force five years ago.

I feel passionately about education; - it's a basic tenet in my family, both parents and all four of their children have been actively involved in it. With parenting, education is so obviously vital to each new crop of citizens.

Thanks for the visit and valuable comments, Billy.

whonunuwho from United States on September 28, 2012:

Thanks for sharing this great article. I taught for many years and was raised in a time when schooling meant much more to kids and teachers, themselves. Times have certainly changed and it is my hope that in time things will get better. Right now all we can do is pray.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on September 28, 2012:

Dear Nellieanna,

I am agog that you had this wisdom in 1967- 1972 and yet things have essentially gotten even more impersonal/ technical than I ever thought possible.

Youngsters working in fast food arenas have no mental acuity to ctirically think/ make change without a computer.

Hopsitals come to a virtual standstill when computers crash...young Nursing students are having a difficult time with interpersonal aspects... we really do need to speak to our patients. We cannot text them about their symptoms.

The cheating in universities has become such an issue that we need to submit papers to 'check for originality'. People are looking for an easy fix in general, even when ethical issues abound.

This has to reflect on society in general. Where are we headed? I value the work I do, as do many other teachers, and will keep focusing on what I have control over/ the values I instill.

Excellent food for thought...voted UP & UABI. Hugs, Maria

Curiad on September 28, 2012:

I couldn't agree with you more Nellie, and Bill is right on in saying that the standardized testing has replaced true learning. The truly scary part, is that the Government is directing society towards knowledge of technology and and attitude of accepting authority blindly rather than teaching people how to think!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 28, 2012:

Nellie, I probably left teaching five years before I originally planned, but I could no longer tolerate the changes that were happening which, in my opinion, were hindering learning. You have raised some wonderful questions here. I have serious concerns about the state of education in the United States, and probably my biggest concern is that creativity and critical thinking are being sacrificed in the name of standardized testing.

I hope this is ready by many. Excellent job!

Have a great weekend my friend.


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