We were good kids truly. The kids today are good kids too. They want what we all want - to be liked for whom we are and not disliked for limitations that are beyond our control. There were kids who had trouble with the times tables when we had to learn them. I remember well, Mrs. Klufas, grade 3, saying to us that here is a the times table, and to learn it for next week. Our every moment was consumed with the times tables. We drilled each other endlessly. Out in the playground at recess, we still drilled each other. The times tables were so sunk into our heads by the time the test came, that no one, not even the kids who had trouble, actually failed and failure was less than 80%.
Why did we force this learning upon ourselves to diligently and willingly? Mrs. Klufas was the principal's wife. She was strict and stern and we were scared to death of her. She used the strap. Early in the year, likely to just show us exactly what we could expect if we failed to live up to her demands, she strapped every single one of us in the class. It snowed, the first snow of the year and we were told to go out for recess and not to get wet. The snow was wet. We made snowballs, snow angels, and splashed in the slush and when we came in, we were soaked. She made us remove all our clothing except the underwear and hang items up around the room and she gave each of us a strap on the hand. So when she said, "learn these times tables for next Monday", we did. No questions or excuses.
Today, in all three math classes, the kids did not know the times tables. Their work would have been so much easier if they did. I asked if they were taught them and if they had to memorize them. They were taught them, but did not have to memorize them because there are calculators these day. I think that is a terrible disservice. Yes, we have calculators and I use them, but Mrs. Klufas, thank you for enforcing the learning of the times tables. Of all the things I learned in school, reading and simple math are obviously the most valuable.
I wish the kids of today had some motivation to learn the times tables. I would not wish Mrs. Klufas on them, though some slightly gentler motivation would be most appropriate. Back in the day, we did not dare neglect our learning and today, learning is approached with such casualness that it does not seem to be taken seriously. How sad. I guess I am really, really, old. Back in the day...hmmmm. Are you old too? Did you learn your times tables?