Looking Back – Again

The weirdest things formerly taught in schools

Part Two:

Pluto is a planet

Kids used to be taught that our solar system has nine planets, and that Pluto was the ninth.

They were taught wrong. On August 24, 2006, the icy ball 7.5 billion kilometers away had its status downgraded to “dwarf planet,” courtesy of the International Astronomical Union.

It didn’t have enough gravity to clear its orbit of debris, which is one of the characteristics required to be considered a planet,” says Mary Colson, an eighth-grade teacher.

Darkroom skills

While some schools may for retro reasons offer photography darkroom courses, digital technology has largely killed the need to go into dark rooms and develop film in baths of toxic chemicals. Besides the dangerous chemicals, equipment and supplies for the outdated developing processes are hard to find.

Diagramming sentences

In the days of old, elementary students were taught to diagram sentences, to understand their underlying structure. These parts might include a subject, a verb, an object, adjectives, adverbs and so on. But the system developed by Reed and Kellogg fell out of favor as educators moved away from such regimented methods of analysis to freer forms of expression.

Using blackboards

The old blackboards and chalk first got downgraded by the introduction of computers and now are increasingly replaced by more versatile whiteboards, which can accommodate eye-catching marker colors and even serve as projection screens. Kids no longer have to clap together two chalk erasers to clean them, sending up clouds of particulate.

“Chalk really isn’t good for anything. It gets all over your hands and your clothes,” agrees a fifth-grade teacher in New Haven.

Note-taking

Before there were smartphones to photograph teacher presentations or record their lectures, students had to take notes—that is, on paper with pen. While technology may be more convenient, research shows that students have to pay more attention to what is being said or shown when they take notes, so they learn better.

Civics

Up to the 1960s, it was common to have separate high school civics courses, designed to teach students about community service and the government. But these courses have been slashed with school budgets, leaving the majority of schools civics-free. Some education experts believe that civics courses develop young people’s critical-thinking skills, making them more engaged in public debates and more likely to participate in elections.

Spelling

Apparently some students might have trouble spelling ABC as schools move away from explicit instruction in spelling, perhaps driven by computers and their easy spell-checks.

Writes a literary expert J. Richard Gentry in Psychology Today: “America has moved to a toxic system for delivering spelling instruction in spite of an extensive and evolving body of research showing that direct and explicit spelling instruction is required for students to master the Mechanics of reading and writing.”

Sewing

Teaching sewing skills to girls has become passé, as gender roles have become less strictly defined.  Still, with six in 10 adults unable to sew well or at all, there might be a rationae for both sexes learning to mend tears, and sew on buttons.

“We have shifted away from the anachronistic view that girls should sew as an acquired life skill. Now we would say that boys or girls who want to go into textiles [need to learn certain skills] and we would try not to be gender specific,” says Julie Nugent, chief executive of the Design and Technology Association.

Math drills

Again, calculators, smartphones and personal computers are making serious math drills less common in schools. But many educators push against the idea of always letting machines do the thinking for us, and losing the chance to exercise our mental chops. The benefits of math drills just add up.

Tough gym classes

Chances are, kids’ memories of gym class today are much different than their parents’. In the 1960s there was a push towards high-intensity fitness regimens. Today kids are more likely to be given choices that let them avoid team sports and sweaty workouts. However, with childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyles at an early age becoming an issue, a return to gym-class tough love might be in order.

Flash Fiction #276

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Anne Higa

IN VINO VERTIGO

Try some tequila they said.  Experience something new.  Waking up on a couch, not knowing who owned it, or where I am, was new.  I had to put a hand on the floor, to stop the room whirling around.  That water-tower outside the window better settle down, too, because I don’t know where the bathroom is.

At the Miracle of Fatima, several people said they experienced visions, and the sun moved around in the sky.  I can believe it.  Didn’t that happen in Mexico, where tequila is king?  I have a vision of Coors Lite for me, from now on.

***

If you’d like to join the Friday Fictioneers fun, go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Awed…. Odd Thoughts

Confused Emoji

I became a professional fisherman, but discovered I couldn’t live on my net income. I went to work in a meat processing factory, but I couldn’t cut it. So then I got a job at a gym…but they said I wasn’t working out!

***

If it’s any good….they’ll stop making it.

Talk is cheap….until you hire a lawyer

***

How many optimists does it take to screw in a
light bulb?

None, they’re convinced that the power will
come back on soon.

***

How many Jehovah’s Witnesses does it take to change a light bulb?
Three! One screws it in, and the other two knock on your door to ask you if you’ve seen the light.

A Jehovah’s Witness came to my door the other day and said, “Can I ask you about God?”
I said, “Sure, what do you want to know?”

***

In what year did Christmas and New Year’s fall
in the same year?

They fall in the same year every year, New
Year’s Day just arrives very early in the year
and Christmas arrives very late in the same year.

***

Murphy’s First Law of Computing

Whatever happens, behave as though you meant it
to happen.

Murphy’s Second Law of Computing:

When you get to the point where you really
understand your software, it’s probably obsolete.

***

Music was much better when ugly people were allowed to make it.

***

A weasel walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Wow! I’ve never served a weasel before. What will you have?”

“Pop” goes the weasel.

***

I picked up a hitch-hiker recently. He said, “Thanks, but how do you know I’m not a serial killer though?”
I replied, “The chances of two serial killers being in the same car at the same time are astronomical.”

***

These days your memory might be better if you use marijuana, but don’t play football.

***

I saw a bumper sticker today. It said, “If you can read this, I’ll slam on my brakes and sue you.”

***

 

‘18 A To Z Challenge – C

Challenge '18 Letter C

Druid

My Scottish ancestors were doing just fine, until the Christians came along with fire and sword.

Caim – (n.) Sanctuary. An invisible circle of protection drawn around the body with the hand, to remind one of being safe and loved even in the darkest times.  The index finger of the right hand was to be extended and pointed at the ground to do this.  It was to be drawn clockwise, as God has made the sun and moon rise and set.

The Irish and my Scottish Celtic ancestors lived a naturalistic existence, close to the earth, the plants and the wildlife.  Then along came the Christians.  They would have none of this mystical hand-waving.  They wanted their own brand of mystical hand-waving.

First, the spelling and pronunciation was slurred to ‘Cain.’  In their mythology, Cain was the first murderer, and an evil person, a servant of Satan.  No-one was allowed to be saved or protected by such an evil spirit.  Union rules said that all such work went to Jesus.  The word ‘Caim’ still exists in the Scottish language, but it now describes a Christian prayer for protection.

The Celts were already well aware of the motions of the sun and the moon, but the Christian ‘God’ even creeps into the historical definition, by making them do so.  I noted that the definition is Northern-centric.  In the Northern hemisphere, the apparent movements of the sun and moon are clockwise, from left to right.

When this word was born, the Christians had not yet invaded the Southern Hemisphere, where the counter-clockwise, widdershins, motion of the Heavenly bodies was obvious, and correct.  I wonder what the Christians would think of that??  (Oops, I used the words ‘think’ and ‘Christian’ in the same sentence.)  😯

Click here http://branawen.blogspot.ca/2011/09/celtic-symbolism-casting-ring-of.html caim, if you’d like to have a look at the research for this.

I’ll have a little bit of lighter humor in a week.  Hope to see you there.

 

Flash Fiction #154

Monster

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

NIGHT WATCH

A space rock was going to pass near Earth, and he’d wanted to get a photo of it. His best chance had been Lookout Butte at 2:30 A.M., no matter what the superstitious locals said.

Okay by day, but, at night…. There’s something that eats cattle – and coyotes – and the occasional tourist.  Next they’ll claim that Bigfoot has a condo up there.

He’d heard something as he got his picture, probably a groundhog, later, as he was going through his setup shots, he spotted those two red eyes watching him. Maybe these hicks really know something after all.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a 100 word story.

2017 A To Z Challenge – Gastronomy

Challenge2017  Letter G

Don’t confuse the title of this post with Astronomy. That’s the study of heavenly bodies.  This will be about the study of my body.  It’s far from heavenly, but it has its own gravitation field, and can cause eclipses.

For the first half of my working career, eating and weight gain were no big deal. My office jobs were so sedentary that I didn’t require great numbers of calories.  With two kids to raise, there wasn’t a lot of spare cash available for French fries, junk food or soft drinks, and the wife had not yet become the great cook that she would be a bit later in life.  Although I did manage to go from a stick-thin kid of 135 pounds, to a solid, well-built man of 185, and stayed that way for years.

All that changed when I left the offices, parked my brain at the door, and went to work in the plants. Suddenly, the jobs were so physical that I needed and consumed 3000/3500 calories a day.  The kids grew up, and there was enough cash for the occasional fast food treat, and the wife was described by her brother, a professional chef, as a better cook than him.

185 lbs. crept to 190, then 195, then to 200. I’m a good eater.  The greeter at the grocery end of Wal-Mart says, “Welcome back Archon. It’s always nice to see you.  Two more visits and I can retire to Florida.”  The wife learns 5 new recipes, and I gain 5 new pounds.  Now I’m 205 lbs., and I can see retirement looming, but not my toes.  Changes have to be made!

The wife says that we’re getting older, and the chance of weak bones is increasing, so drink chocolate milk and eat cheese every day. I’m okay if I stay upstairs, in the computer room, but if I go downstairs in the evening, I’m wrestled to the ground by a toasted bagel – or some potato chips that were on sale – or cookies and hot chocolate.  It’s always something.

I have lots of will power. What I need is some won’t power.  The wife thinks I’m obsessive, because I weigh myself every day.  Seven years into retirement, I’ve passed 210, and occasionally 215.  217!  218!  The day I saw 220, I – not ‘panicked’ – but something has to be done.  Something other than letting the white beard grow back in, and buying a Santa suit.

Yesterday, the scale read 209.8, but my blood pressure was 136/78. The diastolic is still low, but I need to do something about the systolic – like lose some more weight.  I don’t want to be the guy in the Christmas song – round John Virgin.  If I was the victim of a shooting, the chalk outline would be a circle.

Thanx for reading the whine I had with my cheese. I’ll see you around….as long as I’m not quite as round next time.   😳

Fat Man

Flash Fiction #85

Hourglass

PHOTO PROMPT – © Sandra Crook

DUMBSDAY

That there cockeyed hourglass were put up there coupla years ago by Mr. Lillington….excuse me, Doctor Arnold Lillington, ass-tronomer.  Silly old coot.  Crazy as that Doc Brown in them ‘Back To The Future’ movies.

He put it up on that funny angle on purpose. Says he’s got proof – mathematical proof – that an asteroid is gonna smack into Earth, November, 2018.  When it does, it’s gonna tilt the whole world on its axis by just enough to straighten that thing up long enough to count down our extinction.

Yeah, right! Hope it hits them Mayans first, and busts their calendar.

***

When the first experimental atomic bomb was exploded for the Manhattan Project, the builders watched from, what was thought to be, a safe distance. As the shock-wave approached, Enrico Fermi, the great physicist, tore half a small envelope into tiny pieces, and dropped them like confetti as it arrived.

He then measured where they fell with his foot, and by eye, and wrote a number on the other half of the envelope. When the ‘experts’ later calibrated how large the blast was in kilotons, he set the paper in front of the general in charge.  His ‘guesstimate’ was correct to three decimals.

As late as the day before the Trinity blast, the team of scientists were still arguing about whether exploding the bomb would set the entire atmosphere on fire, destroying all life on the planet. Later, perhaps regretting what he had helped create, J. Robert Oppenheimer is quoted as saying, “I am Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds.”

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Elementary

Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes – Elementary Dear Watson

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go on a camping trip, set up their tent, and fall asleep. Some hours later, Holmes wakes his faithful friend.

– Watson, look up and tell me what you see.

Watson replies, – I see millions of stars.

– What does that tell you?

Watson ponders for a minute. – Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.
Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.
Timewise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three.
Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.
Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?

Holmes is silent for a moment, then speaks. –
Watson, you’re an idiot, someone has stolen our tent.

***

You’re not going to believe this!

A woman got a problem with her closet door – it was falling every time a bus was passing by. So she called a repair man. The repairman comes and sees that indeed, the door falls out every time when a bus passes by. “OK, I am gonna see what is going on, just close the door behind me” and he steps into the closet.

At that time the husband comes home from work, opens the closet and finds the repairman.
Husband: “What the hell are you doing here?”
Repairman: “Well, you are not going to believe it, but I am waiting for a bus!”

***

Who am I?

Night.
A sleeping couple is lying in a bed.
Door bell rings.
The couple wakes up.
Woman: “Quick! My husband is back!”
Man jumps out of a window.
On the way down, he starts to think: “Shit, I am the husband!”

***

Shoe repair shop

Arnold and his wife were cleaning out the attic one day when he came across a ticket from the local shoe repair shop. The date stamped on the ticket showed that it was over eleven years old. They both laughed and tried to remember which of them might have forgotten to pick up a pair of shoes over a decade ago.

“Do you think the shoes will still be in the shop?” Arnold asked.

“Not very likely,” his wife said.

“It’s worth a try,” Arnold said, pocketing the ticket. He went downstairs, hopped into the car, and drove to the store.

With a straight face, he handed the ticket to the man behind the counter. With a face just as straight, the man said, “Just a minute. I’ll have to look for these.” He disappeared into a dark corner at the back of the shop.

Two minutes later, the man called out, “Here they are!”

“No kidding?” Arnold called back. “That’s terrific! Who would have thought they’d still be here after all this time.”

The man came back to the counter, empty-handed. “They’ll be ready Thursday,” he said calmly.

***

It Beggars the Imagination

“Can you spare some change?” a beggar asks a passerby.
“No, I know you’re going to spend it all on vodka.”
“No, sir, I don’t drink.”
“Then you’ll gamble it away.”
“No, I don’t gamble either, sir.”
“Well then, you’re going to spend it on women.”
“No, sir, I don’t spend money on women.”
“Okay,” the passerby finally agrees, finally. “I’m going to give you $100 if you come with me. I want to show my wife an example of what can happen to a man who has no bad habits.”

Flash Fiction #47

Hawaii

PHOTO PROMPT – © Douglas M. MacIlroy

PER ARDUA AD ASTRA

When Bob heard that he’d been awarded an internship at the Moana Kea Observatories in Hawaii, he thought he was going to Heaven.

When his boss picked him up for work the first night, he found out that Hawaii has six of the seven global climate zones.  There are no deserts, but it ranges from Tropical, to Arctic where he would be working.

With frigid fingers, he quickly called his Mom in Chicago to send his winter coat, but the views were well worth the trouble.  He could see Heaven spread out below him, and Heaven in the stars above.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

***

And if I’d been born rich, instead of so darned handsome, I’d be living near lucky Doug MacIlroy in Hawaii, where he was fortunate enough to snap this awesome photo.

#448