Thursday, 14 June 2012

Call me old fashioned

Or square, or past it, or just not with it.  I - and, I am sure - many thousands like me were delighted to learn that the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, is instructing schools to re-introduce the teaching of tables.  Times tables or multiplication tables.  I had not realised that these are no longer taught in schools but I suppose I should have guessed given the volume of complaints I hear and read about, for instance, shop assistants unable to do simple mental arithmetic.

My elder son, when he was about 6 and having to learn his tables, had many an argument with the Old Bat about it but, when he was 13 or 14 or so, he thanked her for making him learn them.  He realised then how much easier things are if one just knows without thinking that seven eights are 56.  The best was of learning tables in the classroom is, in my opinion, the old fashioned way.  By rote, or parrot fashion.  Have the whole class standing and chanting, "one two is two, two twos are four, three twos..."

As a parenthetical aside, our tables go up to 12 times because we used to count in dozens.  Do countries where the metric system has been fully adopted have tables going only to 10 times?  And why do they still sell eggs by the dozen in France?

But to get back to learning by rote.  The Old Bat agrees with me - about tables, anyway.  She doesn't seem capable of understanding that an extension of this is the training given to our armed forces so that when given an order, they obey immediately without thinking.  The OB is of the opinion that soldiers should think about an order before obeying in case it is a stupid command.  What she doesn't appreciate is that in some circumstances it is absolutely essential that a soldier moves immediately when so ordered and that his training, including square bashing, is to ensure that he does just that.


I was kicking myself yesterday lunch time.  We were out to our monthly Scouting pub lunch at a pub near the mouth of the River Cuckmere which is one of those really old rivers that twists and turns along a valley though the Downs to the sea between Seaford Head and the Seven Sisters.  The sun was shining - and I had forgotten to take my camera!  I suppose I could steal a picture, but I would prefer to offer one of my own, so here is an old one (I have no new ones) of a Provencal village when we stayed a few years back: Seillans.

1 comment:

The Broad said...

Well, I suppose if you consider that the word dozen comes from the French Douzaine, from the word 'douze' for twelve -- it makes sense. In fact, much, if not all of our Imperial measures, came as a result of the Norman invasion...