By Sandy Laumeyer
Just A Thought 

The Trouble with Teaching


This past week an incident happened that reminded me of another time when the same thing occurred.

I was staying at my nephew's in Billings because of medical appointments I had. The last day I was there, I ordered two pizzas delivered to his residence for our lunch.

When the woman arrived with the pizzas, I gave my nephew's son $40 to pay for the food. He stepped outside the door to accept and pay for them. Coming back inside, he told me, "That girl who delivered the pizzas said she couldn't figure out how much change you had coming because she didn't have her cell phone with her and it has a calculator. I finally told her how much change to give me." The total bill was $31.

A few years ago I was in a department store. I had just gotten my purchase checked out and the cash register drawer had popped open when the power went out. But since the power was off, the display on the register was blank. Not knowing how long the outage would last, I asked if I could simply pay for my things in cash and she could give me my change so I could go on my way.

The clerk said she couldn't do that. She said she didn't know how much change I'd have coming back. I replied I could tell her how much. "But," she said, "how would I know if you told me the right amount of change?"

How very sad, I thought, last week that in both cases it was a person in their early twenties and neither one of them could figure out how much change to give their customer.

If these young people are unable to something as simple as being able to giving back change, what else can they not do? If they need a calculator to tell them what amount to give back, what other tasks can they not do without the help of instruments?

Should they be cooking and need to double or triple a recipe or divide it in half, they are going to have difficulty knowing how much of each ingredient to use or not use.

And what about balancing their checkbooks if they don't have a calculator? Then there's knowing about things such as mortgages.

Not long ago, I was told our nation is seventh in the world as far as math ability is concerned. What is the reason for that? Are students relying so much on calculators or other people and technology to give them the answer to math problems that they are unable to solve any other way?

But math problems aren't the only area I see lacking. I see it in spelling and grammar. Often I will see "your" instead of "you're" or "there" rather than "their" or the use of an apostrophe with the letter "S". And how an apostrophe is used incorrectly with words that end in "S." Apostrophes are put into words that don't need them and left out of words that do. Or writing a coherent sentence … a complete, understandable sentence.

Does the fault for poor grammar lie in things like texting on cell phones where letters stand for words?

I've read quite a few articles written by teachers and have noticed a comment that's in almost every one: A great deal of time our teachers would rather and should be teaching is being taken away by paperwork demanded by governmental regulations. And that there is more and more testing for the students.

Teaching our young people is the responsibility not just of teachers. It's also the responsibility of parents and communities. Should you know of a situation that is causing teachers great stress, you could help them and the children by writing letters and making phone calls to help get the children a good education.

If the adults in our nation do not step forward to help the children and their teachers, I fear for what kind of world these children who grow to adulthood will be living in.


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