After scoring a dismal 75 per cent on an “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?” quiz, I resolved to relearn the things I studied (or thought I had) in school. It was a lot harder (it seemed) to answer questions back then, because we were just learning in school things about the rest of the world, things that which I’m sure many students will never experience in a lifetime.
Today, stretching my memory cells back to infancy is even harder as the decades slip by, making what I learned back then to be something nonexistent and useless.
Geography was always a favourite: just remember the capitals of the countries, what they depended on to live, what kind of animals and language, all the usual stuff. I liked Africa, having read a lot about it in books about Tarzan.
I figure I’m still an expert about it, so I did some research into what I retained from years of pouring over atlases, encyclopedias and globes. I discovered that much of what I was taught was mainly from colonialists’ viewpoints.
Likewise, the names of the capital cities I remember have now been replaced with their true names. Countries changed too: Rhodesia is Zimbabwe, Bechuanaland is Botswana. No coincidence, the same thing happened in our own back yard: Paint Hills is Wemindji, Rupert’s House is Waskaganish, and so on.
Biology was another item, like, how could that change over time? Well, when genes and genealogy meant family trees and whether or not you could forecast what your kids would look like, including vari-ables such as the milkman (the milkman was an early riser and would deliver milk to your door step fresh from the dairy, really, no kidding), and the mailman (the mailman was someone who would deliver mail to your door, really, no kidding).
Science was still fixated with landing on the moon, and if anyone actually knew how a rocket would work, they would immediately be whisked away to work in some top secret lab for the good guys. Math, well math was trigonometry, who would ever need that?
Back then, what we learned in school is peanuts compared to what you could absorb today.
The funny thing is, you really need the education to get around. For example, who ever worried about whether or not your ID could be stolen and used to charge up a fortune on your newly acquired card? Back then, we worried about someone looking over your shoulder to cheat on exams. We used to have nerds who knew how to work computers, but today, a third grader can pump out a full-colour book in under an hour.
We changed when we wanted to, when we needed to, when we had to. We changed to survive.
Look at today. Our culture is now locked firmly on You
Tube, chat lines, emails, e-commerce and shopping without taking a deep breath – learning how to swim overnight in a sea of technology. Digital this and that, the average fifth grader sure has a lot to worry about today besides testing themselves against old dudes like me.