As I write this very important column, I note that most of the area schools have closed for two days and some even three. This decision was made because there might — and I emphasize might — be snow or ice later in the week.
What has the world come to? Back when I was in school, we did not close school for any reason. A meteorite could have hit the football field right beside the school building and the principal would have come on the speaker and said, “Students, please remain in your seats. A meteorite has hit the football field. Turn your desk away from the window and complete your reading assignment of reading “War and Peace” in its entirety by the close of school today. Also, there will be no P.E. today, as Coach Johnson cannot currently be located.”
I fear today’s students are coddled and if something isn’t done soon, they may all turn out like we did — and everyone knows how that has worked out so far.
I recently read where one state has now decided to drop algebra as a required subject in high school.
Say what? I spent four good years taking algebra in high school — not four years of Algebra, but the same class for four years. But, by God, when I got through, I knew Algebra. It has been an indispensable tool for me ever since. As an example: I arrive home late from a bar and my wife says, “Where have you been and with whom?”
I reply, “Well, honey, if I was with my buddy John and we could have been at any one of 15 different bars. One must take John times x plus y to determine if, indeed, we were even at a bar.”
This diversionary tactic is quite effective … for about, say, three minutes, and then it is back to sleeping on the couch with the 17-year-old cat that licks my head at 3 a.m.
But it is not just algebra that is going the way of the slide rule. No school now teaches Latin. I took Latin from Mrs. Rogers, who adored the language. “It is a beautiful language,” she said. “All of the modern English derives its root from the Latin language. Learn the Latin and you will know any English word.”
How about just learn the English word to begin with and cut to the chase? That attitude probably explains why I never mastered the Latin language, but I do remember agricola meant agriculture. Never once since taking Latin have I seen agriculture without knowing we were talking about, well, agriculture.
We also did language drills that included something called declentions where you say the Latin word and then recite its English meaning, usually regarding pronouns and such. One such drill required all the students to say “he, she, it.” Now say that really fast two or three times in a row. Eighth-grade boys loved saying that very fast. Mrs. Rogers never caught on, thinking we loved that particular exercise.
We also had real recess. We did not have any of this be careful don’t get hurt junk. Every year at least four or five folks broke their arms, and maybe a leg or two for good measure. We had a merry-go-round that could reach speeds in excess of 30 mph and if you fell down while serving as the pusher of the merry-go-round, you’d be drug around like the bad guy who got his foot caught in the horse’s saddle in a B-Western movie.
We had a giant slide made of stainless steel metal. Take some wax paper, polish the surface good and it would launch you 20 feet past the end.
We played tackle football with no helmets and no pads, which probably helps now to explain my mental condition.
It was never, ever, too cold or too hot to go out and play. We may have all had steel pins in our arms by fourth grade, but no one talked much about childhood obesity and most kids acted pretty good in class — too tired to misbehave.
But they don’t walk six miles to school now through snake infested swamp while pulling an 80-pound supply sled like we did back in my day. Of course, that was after we first slopped the hogs, fed the chickens, cut the fire wood, and chopped four acres of cotton …
Snow days … please.
Email T. Gamble at firstname.lastname@example.org.