Keep Your Nose to the Grindstone

“Keep your nose the the grindstone” was one of my parents’ favorite sayings.  Any time that I would get discouraged with school, they would say this to me.  As silly as it sounds, it helped me because it made me realize that learning IS hard and takes work.  They would always finish the conversation with “hard work always pays dividends.”  The older I get the more I realize the value of their wisdom.

I wish that I could make school easier for my students, but sometimes there is no easy way to learn things.  Once again, this year the students are having a great deal of difficulty with multiplication facts.  In our math program it is assumed that the students know most of their facts by the end of Second Grade.  We are still in a transitional time with Singapore Math, so there are still growing pains.

The problem is not the fact that the students don’t know their facts.  The problem is they want an easy fix. They want everything to be a game and it MUST be fun. They don’t understand that somethings just have to be memorized and this is one of them.  Think about it.  Did we all have to memorize things in school? Yes, of course.  There were no apps or electronic games to ease our distress.  We just did it.  Did it help us in Middle School and High School?  Yes.  We probably wouldn’t be teachers if we hadn’t memorized things.  We couldn’t have passed college math if we didn’t know our times tables.  Am I asking my students to memorize something that they will never use again? NO!  They WILL use this skill over and over again.

I know the the word “memorize” has a bad connotation these days, but take a look at the article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal recently.  I found this article very interesting. As I have reflected many times before, I definitely think that technology belongs in the classroom, but I still am standing my ground that we can’t let go of certain ways of “tried and true” methods of teaching.

I have also had some interesting conversations with people lately about cursive handwriting.  What are your thoughts about teaching cursive in Fourth and Fifth Grade?  Is handwriting soon going to be a lost art?



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October 2013
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