The Popcorn Stand: Fundamentally speaking, we’re not teaching fundamentals

I attended a few games at the recently completed Little League District I Tournament and with the danger of offending Little League volunteers I was reminded of this joke: An engineer showed up for his new job only to have his boss give him a broom and order him to sweep out the storeroom. The new employee said, “But I’m an engineer” to which the boss replied, “OK give me the broom and I’ll show you what to do.”

As I’ve said before I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I became an old fuddy duddy. And as an old fuddy duddy I notice the youth — and adults — who are unable to do just simple, basic tasks. In other words, we lack the fundamentals as a society.

I notice it in Little League. In education. In the workplace. As I strolled around watching the Little League games some — not all — of the coaches reminded me of this quote I came up with I’m determined to make part of our lexicon: “In Little League there’s too much coaching — and not enough instruction.”

Another quote I came up with I’m determined to make famous is: “Discipline without training is incomplete.” But it’s always been this way. I remember in 1978 at our school’s open house my seventh grade teacher Mr. Braly lamented about how he still had a few students in his class who didn’t know their times tables. To which my father reacted in a way I’ve never seen before or since.

For some reason I thought about that moment when as a substitute teacher it took me 10 minutes to teach 78 plus 2, so you can pretty much tell what I think of Common Core-type math. I certainly didn’t think I was teaching the fundamentals of math.

I have to go sweep around my desk now. I just need to find somebody to show me how.

— Charles Whisnand


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