happy st patricks day

My mother was an elementary grade school teacher before she got married and stopped “working” – as women were expected to behave in those days.  Her school principal said she was the best arithmetic teacher he had ever had on his staff. That was because - she told me in one of the few reminiscent moments she ever indulged in - because she was so bad at it herself.  She said had to prepare each lesson carefully for fear of making a mistake.

Ah, the three Rs, only one of which is a genuine R.  Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic (taught to the rule of a hickory stick), used to form the basic foundation of an education.  Arithmetic became Mathematics and then Calculus and I don’t know what now. (Computer Science?)  Writing, of course, has become cursive as far as the physical act is concerned, or narcissistic and self-indulgent and very occasionally awesome when it comes to a literary effort. 

I went to a convent school for my early education, being admitted at the age of 5 to something like a kindergarten when such a thing did not exist in the Winnipeg School system. I moved on to a sort of public school (a very small local school) at the end of Grade Four, before I reached long division.  Pity.  The nuns drilled speed addition in to me (not with a hickory stick but with a guilt-inducing pointer) that stays with me to this day. I am much faster at making change than the average store clerk who has to wait till the computer on her cash register tells her what coins to return.  Not that it matters. Money is disappearing. It used to be called legal tender. 

legal tender: noun [ mass noun ] coins or banknotes that must be accepted if offered in payment of a debt.

Now it’s called a credit or a debit card; very seldom does cash or a cheque settle a debt.

 One would have thought that once machines took over numbers, no mistakes would ever be made.  No more human error!  What a fond idea that was.  Now mistakes are not made in human lapses of judgment or calculation but in physical slips of the fingers on the keys, and they’re harder to catch. 

And oh then the time and frustration it takes to correct an error!  I won’t try to give you examples. You have your own to cite.  Don’t tell me.