Miss Wilma

One of my favorite people of all time is Miss Wilma. Miss Wilma was my teacher in the little three room elementary school I attended back in smalltown. She walked with a cane because she had been born with a birth defect that caused her to be bent forward at the waist. Despite her physical frailness, Miss Wilma had a passion for children and took great delight in helping them prepare for a brighter future. I heard her say many times, “It’s not where you come from in life, but it’s what you choose to do in preparation for the future ahead of you that’s important.”  Though I had teachers before her, I credit Miss Wilma for giving me an insatiable desire to learn. She taught me how to do longhand math,  how to read and write and to understand that it is what people do, it’s not what they say, that determines whether a person is trustworthy or not. That last lesson was a difficult lesson for me to learn because I was a little rascal of a boy so to speak, but Miss Wilma understood me perhaps better than any other person I have known. Despite my shortcomings, she never gave up on me and treated me as if I was a perfect child. I had an opportunity a few years later to tell her face to face how much I appreciated the love and patience she showed  me during my learning years.  A few short years after our face to face meeting she went home to be with her Lord.

Since leaving smalltown behind, I have traveled across America from one coast to the other and have made a couple of observations concerning changes in education that I am not altogether convinced were good ones. Call me old fashion if you like, but one such change I observed was the invention and later subsequent use of mechanical devices for the advancement of scholastic skills in our modern day classrooms. I’ll bet some of you older people have noticed too, that many young people who seek solutions to math problems using a mechanical device that does the thinking for them have a difficult time making correct change.

The subtracting of a lower number from a higher number without the aid of a mechanical device with a digital readout seems to confuse them. It is my belief, “the skill of mental calculation was lost during the transition period between doing math by longhand and learning to use mechanical devices that does the thinking for us.”

I think most of you will agree the mechanical method of solving math problems is quicker than the longhand method because mental calculations require thought, and thinking requires time, and since a lot of people today say, “they don’t have time,” leads me to believe, that a lot of people have pretty much quick thinking for themselves. DThrash

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