Look Back In Anger – And Nostalgia

The weirdest things formerly taught in schools

Part one:

In another day and age, girls in public school might be separated to learn sewing and cooking in home economics class, while boys went to shop class to learn carpentry and mechanics skills. Dead languages were taught to understand live ones. Learning how to take proper notes, develop neat handwriting, read sweep-hand clocks and how to actually spell words are among the other weird things formerly taught in schools.

Latin

Schools for the most part no longer veni, vidi, vici the classical languages, Latin and Ancient Greek. True, you can’t use them in your day-to-day conversation but their loss is also our loss. Studying Latin helps us better understand the grammar and vocabulary of other languages, such as English. And many professions have vocabulary steeped in Latin, including law and medicine.

Handwriting

In the era of keyboard, cursive writing classes are on the way out or gone at many schools.  But not all educators are happy about this.

There’s a myth that in the era of computers we don’t need handwriting. That’s not what our research is showing,” says a University of Washington professor who has co-authored studies on the topic and followed the same children every year for five years to track their development. “What we found was that children until about grade six were writing more words, writing faster and expressing more ideas if they could use handwriting—printing or cursive—than if they used the keyboard.”

Home economics

In times past, it was common for boys to take shop classes and for girls to do home economics, where they would learn to cook, fold sheets and so on, so they could become proficient homemakers. Well, presumptions about gender roles have changed and home economics is fast becoming a creaky relic of the past. That said, teaching both girls and boys practical life skills, like how to boil an egg or do their own laundry, might be a good thing.

Shop class

No, shop class wasn’t learning how to become a more proficient shopper. It taught, boys mostly, basic carpentry and mechanics skills. Liability issues, using machines that can lop off digits or ruin eyes, may be one reason that shop and the industrial arts are increasingly falling off the school map.

But a school in North Carolina makes the case: “Shop classes offer students with their hands. They let students test their inclinations toward possible careers in engineering, carpentry, or architecture.”

Typing

As with handwriting, typing is being whited out in schools, with the belief that kids today are born with keyboards in their hands and screens before their eyes. So, gone are the days where students have their fingers poised over typewriter keyboards, with the teacher intoning, “D-d-d, space.” However, even though self-taught youngsters may be reasonably proficient, they would have a great work advantage if they learned to keyboard at full speed.

Dewey Decimal System

The Dewey Decimal System, first introduced in the 1800s, is a numerical system used by libraries to classify their book holdings into subjects and subcategories. Kids needed to get lessons from librarians to learn how to use it, thumbing their way through card catalogues, so they could research school papers and other projects. With the internet, Dewey Decimal is now skipping class. Even librarians are questioning the need to teach it.

Dodgeball

Dodgeball used to be a standard gym class activity, with two teams lining up facing each other and then hurling balls at each other in a contest of elimination. Because some kids have better throwing arms—and accuracy—than others, injuries happened and now schools are increasingly banning the game.

Using slide rules

Before using calculators in math class, we had slide rules to make basic calculations, especially multiplication and division. The rulers, with a central sliding slip marked with logarithmic scales date back to the 17th century. They fell out of use in the 1970s when mass-produced pocket calculators became widely available. The last slide rule was manufactured on July 11, 1976.

Reading Analog Clocks

Elementary school students used to be taught that when the small hand was at three and the big hand at six that it was 3:30 and perhaps time to go home. A new generation raised on digital readouts, have trouble dealing with analog time-telling. So much so that some schools have actually removed analog clocks because mystified kids were turning up late for classes and exams.

Etiquette

Etiquette hasn’t been part of school curricula for a long time. However, some experts believe it would do kids good to get lessons in class to supplement what they are learning, or not learning, at home. How to do a proper handshake, tie a tie, and address your elders, are good things to know.

We’ll have some more nostalgia later.

I Read You, Loud And Clear

For years, I averaged reading a book a week – about fifty a year. Two years ago, when I first listed what I’d read, there were only 31 books.  Last year’s list improved minimally, to 33.

When we moved into this house 15 years ago, we placed the TV and all attendant electronics in the finished Rec Room in the basement. The wife’s deteriorating mobility and bladder problems have meant that we haven’t watched more than 10 hours of TV together since last April/May.  That has led to an increase in my reading.  Below are what I read last year.  The year’s total ran to 46.

Eric Flint – Grantville Gazette VI

grantville gazette VI

David Weber/Linda Evans – Hells Gate

hells gate

Lee Child – Nothing To Lose – Gone Tomorrow – 61 Hours – Worth Dying For – The Affair

nothing to losegone tomorrow 61 hours

worth dying for    the affair

Clive Cussler – Golden Buddha – Trojan Odyssey – Sacred Stone – Lost City

golden buddha  trojan odyssey

sacred stone   lost city

James Rollins – Sandstorm – Map Of Bones – Black Order

sandstorm  map of bones black order

Greg Loomis – The Coptic Secret – Gates Of Hades

coptic secret gates of hades

Steve Berry – The Romanov Prophecy – The Alexandria Link – The Venetian Betrayal – The Paris Vendetta

the-romanov-prophecy-1 the alexandria link

the venetian betrayal the-paris-vendetta-1

Ilona Andrews – Magic Bites – Magic Burns – Magic Strikes – Magic Bleeds – Magic Rises – Magic Slays – Gunmetal Magic

magic bites magic burns magic strikes

magic-bleeds magic-rises

magic slays gunmetal-magic

John Ringo – Strands Of Sorrow

strands-of-sorrow

F. Paul Wilson – The Tomb – Legacies – Conspiracies

the tomb  legacies conspiracies

This is a series introduced to me by Ted, at SightsNBytes.  Thanx Ted!  There will be more in next year’s list.

Sharon Lee/Steve Miller – Saltation

Saltation

Larry Correia – Monster Hunter Nemesis

monster hunter nemesis

I read the paperback version of this, but the best photo I could download was the audiobook.

William C. Dietz – At Empire’s Edge

at empires edge

Tom Clancy – Against All Enemies – Dead Or Alive

against all enemies dead or alive

Like Monster Hunter, above, I read the softback version of Dead Or Alive, but picked up the photo of the CD version.

David Feldman – Why Don’t Cats Like To Swim ? (Imponderables)

why cats don't swim

Jonathon Sarfati – Refuting Evolution – Refuting Evolution II

Refuting Evolution Refuting Evolution 2

Tony Daniel – Guardian Of Night

guardian of night

William Manchester – A World Lit Only By Fire

a world lit only by fire

This was a book suggested by Jim Wheeler, as a research tool for the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance.  It clearly lists the excesses and sins of the European Royalty and the Catholic Church hierarchy (They were often the same thing.), and justifies claims I made in my The Torture Of Faith post.

Bonaventure Des Perier – Cymbalum Mundi (The Noise of the World)

cymbalum mundi

I found this book mentioned in Manchester’s treatise, above.  Written about 1542, it sneaks around mentioning the same things as ‘World‘ does, because, at the time of writing, accusations of heresy or sedition could get you tortured and burned at the stake.

Robert A. Heinlein – The Door Into Summer

the door into summer

Still in my book collection, I hadn’t read this one for 30 or 40 years.  It’s always possible to get a new insight from Heinlein, so I re-read it.

Gordon R. Dickson – The Man From Earth

The man from earth

Another book from the ’60s.  A collection of 10 of Dickson’s short stories, written from ’52 to ’65.  This anthology was published in ’66.  I never read it then, but pulled it from a pile the son was getting rid of.

***

In past years I have proof-read about half of two novels, for two different authors.  This past year, I had the privilege of beta-reading (proof-reading, character and plot development suggestions) for two new authors.  There are no cover pictures because they have not been published yet, hopefully soon.

Tom Elias – Degree Of Separation

Moon

Sci-Fi mystery

Will Greaney – The Last Ride

Tank

Army mystery

Aside from my posts (Thank you!  Thank you!), what have you guys been reading?

Reading Room

 

Actually, I don’t need too much room to read.  Aside from what I read off the monitor in the computer room, all my reading is done in the living room.  There was a time when I read in the cafeteria at work, with all the attendant noise, but I find that my attention is diminishing, and I now need silence to read.

This past year all my reading, with Art Browne’s one exception, was from paper and ink, physical books. The son has a new Kindle, so both his Sony Reader and his Kobo are available.  Perhaps in 2015 I’ll save some money and download a few titles.

The following is a display of what I read in calendar year 2014, along with my usual comments and trivia.  I exceeded 2013’s displayed list of 31, and managed to finish 34.

I’ll start with the two ‘James Axler’ series, as I did last year.  I finally stopped buying them and still had five titles to read, to clear up my backlog.  When I read ‘my’ last one, I noticed that I was a full year’s releases behind.

James Axler

Deathlands – Nemesis, Chrono Spasm, Sins of Honor

nemesis  chrono-spasm  sins-of-honor

Outlanders – Savage Dawn, Sorrow Space

savage dawn  sorrow-space

Eric Flint – Grantville Gazette V

grantville gazette V

 

 

 

Lee Child – Running Blind, Echo Burning, Without Fail, Persuader, The Enemy, One Shot, Bad Luck and Trouble, The Hard Way

The Minutia V post that I recently published, where I claimed that ‘One Shot’ was my next Jack Reacher novel to be read, was originally written about two months ago, and I have finished it and two more recent titles since.

running blind  echo burning  without fail

persuader  the enemy one shot

bad luck and trouble  the hard way

Clive Cussler – The Chase, Inca Gold, White Death

the chase  inca gold  white death

John Scalzi – The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe’s Tale

the ghost brigades  the last colony zoes tale

Dan Brown – Inferno

inferno

 

 

 

James Rollins – Excavation, Subterranean, Amazonia, Ice Hunt

In another case of not looking for contradictions, but still finding them, I read in Subterranean, the following passage;

“We had been following the twisting cave through the mountain, winding ever higher, trudging beside the stream which coursed through it.  I could feel the muscles in the backs of my legs burning from the constant uphill strain.

Suddenly it opened into a gigantic cavern.  We must be near the outer mountain surface, because there were thousands, perhaps millions of bats, nesting here.  We had to withdraw.  Because of the dust, the mould, and the overpowering ammonia smell, we could not slog through guano, sometimes feet thick in places.  We decided to wet pieces of cloth, hold them over our mouths and noses, and climb into the rushing stream to let it quickly carry us past the hazard.”

While it’s interesting imagery, and literary gimmickry, I doubt that caves and caverns are formed like this in the granite of the Andes.  Even if they are, the glacier meltwater stream could kill them from hypothermia and impact with rocks, before they could climb out.  Ignoring both of those quibbles, the story says they are moving upward.  Which way is the stream moving?  Rapidly downward, in compliance with gravity!  Riding the rapids will just get them back where they started.  Oh well.

Excavation  Subterranean

Amazonia  Ice Hunt

A.H. Browne – The Saloon at the Edge of Everywhere

This is the first published tale from fellow-blogger Art Browne, over at PouringMyArtOut.  While suitable for teens or young adults, it’s fun, and still has a thing or two to say about social morés.

saloon

 

 

 

Alena Graedon – The Word Exchange

word exchange

 

 

 

Max Berry – Lexicon

lexicon

 

 

 

Gregg Loomis – The Julian Secret, Pegasus Secret

julian secret  pegasus secret

Steve Berry – The Templar Legacy

templar legacy

 

 

 

Ryk E. Spoor – Grand Central Arena

A strangely named man tries to write an epic Space Opera as an homage to the great E.E. (Doc) Smith – and fails.  I’ve read Doc Smith.  This ain’t it!  It does not have Doc’s crisp precision and vision.  While interesting and enjoyable, this overly long tome contains lots of action and social statement, with a happily-ever-after ending.  It is full of physics impossibilities (Vaguely attributed perhaps to God – or gods.), but no explanations.

grand central arena

 

 

 

Anthology – Science Fiction of the Fifties

This book contains 22 short stories by some of the masters, only a couple of which I read in my teens.  The themes include some things we still worry about, and some we don’t; overpopulation, ecological collapse, social demand for uniformity, and miscegenation.  The stories are from the 1950s; the book was published in 1979, and priced at $4.99.  I didn’t purchase it until 1999, and paid $1.99.  It sat on a shelf for another 15 years before I finally got around to it.

50's SciFi

 

 

 

Uncle John’s Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader

We all know what this one is.  One- and two-page articles full of interesting trivia, useful for a short stay in the small room.  Despite that, I read it in the living room.   😀

Uncle John

 

 

 

That’s enough reading about what I’ve been reading.  Rest up, and return soon.