Falling Back, 31. News Cycle Blues.
This morning I went for my walk. I've not been walking of late, and I really need to do so, so I'm trying to get back into the habit. It's not exactly easy, since the colder and later sunrises make it difficult to start out early. Which means that I either run errands, or I go walking.
Some mornings, when I scroll the different news agencies I usually check, I feel like starting to walk and not stopping until I drop, leaving all this behind. There is a quiet air of exhaustion this fall. Everything has been hitting extremes, and one can only have their nerves strung out like violin strings for so long. From politics, to Covid, passing through the usual idiocies, it's too much to keep taking in.
I noticed an article today that mentions that Christmas might be a solitary affair. In Spain, Christmas is much like Thanskgiving in the United States; everyone goes home for the holiday. Households of two people become households of twenty, as children, in-laws, and grandchildren get together. But there are rumblings that that won't happen this year. I'm not surprised. As of tomorrow, in Galicia, there are to be no reunions of more than ten people. Madrid will not get its state of alarm lifted any time soon. Contagion is on a vertiginous rise in Catalunya. Navarra is in the red zone. Even if this gets under control by December, it will be too soon to travel and get together by the end of the month.
Another news bit today is of an oil spill at the entrance to our estuary, the Ría de Arousa. While it's partly evaporating, it's also growing larger, which would mean that some kind of underground storage or pipe is leaking massively. Our estuary is rich in shellfish and would be seriously affected if this gets worse. When the Prestige was breaking apart offshore, sending its sticky, oily tentacles of death to our coasts, small boatloads of mariners went out to the mouth of the estuary and scooped the thick fuel off the surface of the water. This spill is not as thick and solid, but it could still bring death to these waters.
Finally, fifth graders in Galicia all seem to have gone from textbooks to computers. None of my students in fifth grade have textbooks. They were all issued with a small laptop, which they keep during the year, and through which they log online to the webpage with the fifth grade curriculum for all the subjects. Depending on their teachers, they also get worksheets, but just about all the work is done online.
That is so wrong on so many levels. Yes, they need to learn to deal with computers and the internet, because that is the future. But the future is not yet now. And how will they learn to use computers well, if they aren't even taught touch typing? Not one of my students, from grade schoolers to high schoolers, have ever been taught it. They use the hunt and peck method with as many fingers as they find comfortable.
Then, not every household has an internet connection or can afford it. One of my students has to use her grandmother's phone as a wifi tether because she doesn't have internet at home. And if her use is greater than the data plan her grandmother has? Another problem is that the computers need to be charged every day. Then, forgetting a textbook somewhere is bad enough, but what if a kid forgets a computer?
Besides which, to learn something, it helps very much to write it down. The formation of words by hand coordinates with the brain to cement information. The hunt and peck method at the keyboard doesn't. Through touch typing, they might relate finger patterns to words, but when they go to write down by hand, the words might not come to mind as well as if they had learned them by writing with a pen and paper.
So, for computers and haphazard education there was enough money, but to have less kids in each class, and more teachers overall, there wasn't. As far as I know, a teacher can help kids learn much better than a computer. Education can never be imparted by machines.