Back in my day…


Call me old fashioned, but I find myself more and more these days saying…well back in MY day. You see now that I have kids myself and Daisy is now in year 2, I find myself sitting at the kitchen table with her sitting and helping her out with her homework. Syllabuses (is that even a WORD?) and teaching techniques change, sure. Our kids are learning in a whole other universe compared with what we did. Apparently good handwriting is no longer necessary, a good power point presentation IS. I lament internet, lament over the changes that are happening. I am no educator, but I reckon being able to construct a hand written letter is something that needs to be taught. LEARNT. Sure, I have trouble with apostrophes, but I can write a birthday card. I can! I like to be able to get up and talk to a audience rather than record something on an iPad and show it to the class instead. Cause you know, it’s pretty important to be able to COMMUNICATE to each other.

There has been many a little person sitting down to a Naplan test this week – I am yet to experience it or even understand what it means for MY kid, but I think back to the things that we all NEED to know, really need to know before leaving school….or the things I SHOULD have learnt. Was it the home economics class that I had in my all girls private Catholic High School that I attended that saw me making good scrambled eggs? Or how to make a tie die kimono in textiles and design. Was it the PE lessons that I detested? Or the drama and english classes that I adored.

If you were creating the syllabus for our new generation of children what would be there?

For me, I think reading REAL books that you touch and feel and SMELL would be there. Writing until your hand cramps. Being able to budget your way through life. Plan. Save. Learning about history. Travel. learn where your food comes from. How to cook.

Or alternatively, what is essential learning for being an adult? I was listening to James Valentine on 702 in the car the other day laughing away to the adult NAPLAN test that we should do. Is it how to work out the best deal on your comprehensive third party insurance or health insurance? Is it being able to deal with toddlers tantruming in a supermarket? How many wines we can have the night before to be able to deal with being a Mum again at 5.45am the next morning?

What do we REALLY need in our toolbox for dealing with being an adult?
Are your cupcake levels up to scratch?
Mine either.



  1. I wrote about being a grown up today.
    Mostly because all of a sudden my children seem to be grown ups themselves.
    it just won’t do.

  2. Yes how teaching has changed and it has changed all over again sine my girls were in primary. I believe that all the basics should be taught first. I am currently studying to become a teacher’s aide and I am excited to learn the new teaching avenues.

  3. Real books complete with smell are still very important in the NSW English Syllabus. There is an emphasis on quality literature and multimodal texts. My year 1’s even hand wrote a letter this week and loved this experience. It was a delight watching them decide if they should start by introducing themselves or give a compliment. We scanned it, viewed it on the SmartBoard and edited with interactive pens!! All in a days work teaching 21st century learners. What scares me is I am trying to prepare 6 year olds for jobs that possibly don’t even exist yet, the world is changing so rapidly.

  4. My 8 year old (nearly 9) son has taken to saying “when you were young in the olden days mum”. I am VERY quick to point out that the “olden days” were when his great grandmother was young!! Not when I was young!! Thankfully my 12 year daughter is much wiser to say such a thing. Although I am sure he now says it just to get a reaction, cheeky little man!!!

  5. It really is a radically different world isn’t it? My niece aka my Favourite Human is six years old and in Prep and I think a LOT about the world she’s growing up in, and how I can show her and teach her that she is wonderful, smart, capable and worthy just as she is – before any Facebook bullies and media crazies get into her beautiful soul.

    And I am a WHIZ at apostrophes! Never, ever, ever in a family name when you’re just talking about more than one of you, if a card is from two people in the Bartlett family, that’s from the Bartletts not Bartlett’s (dear GOD that one makes me want to go on a displeasing rampage) and never, ever, ever where a word is made plural and ends in a vowel – videos.

    Naplan for grown ups – no thank you!

  6. My kids are at a cushie private school. I adore their teachers, and find the facilities and resources pretty amazing. (They are in prep & year 1). Veggie gardens, wetlands, outdoor ed campus, an amazing near new libraries, pools, computer labs, technology in the classroom…the list goes on. The student staff ratio is fantastic. Any resource or need can be met at the drop of a hat. My question to the vice principle at a recent parent meeting was “how then, do we teach initiative?” There was an awkward silence…

  7. It’s funny you mention letter writing as Lily just finished a segment on letter writing at school – learning to write formal letters as well as letters to family and friends. Our curriculum is a little bit old fashioned compared to Australia, which sometimes frustrates me (as there is a lot of rote learning) but there are a few upsides.

    Education is certainly a whole new ball game. Unfortunately to be tech savy and computer literate is going to be important for these kids. Back in Sydney I lamented after speaking to one of the NSW curriculum advisors, she said that she believed that would do away with handwriting altogether in schools in the not too distant future.

    It’s funny as there is a lot of talk about eduction and curriculums here as people from all over the world gather in our playground and talk about how it’s too easy (usually the Russian and the Brits) or it’s way too hard and rigid (the Swedes). For me, at the moment, the fact that they’re learning to read and write is OK, if there are any deficits in their education I hope that being surrounded by so many different cultures helps to balance it out. The amount they have learnt about the world stuns me. Also the fact that they have a good understanding of Islam (as well as all the other religions that practised here) and are learning to read and write Arabic (as well as Mandarin) amazes me. These things are going to be invaluable in their toolbox for later life (I hope!), learning tolerance and that people are just people wherever they’re from, whatever religion they may practice or whatever language they speak. Here’s hoping anyway!!

    • Corinne that is so true and really well said. I often think about my great aunt who had this amazing well rounded old fashioned education. She was a doctor and university lecturer, a concert pianist and had an amazing historical & political knowledge. I hope my children have the opportunity to learn such a wide range of skills and don’t have to chose to specialise in something too soon.

    • So interesting Corinne. Surely having a world view on diversity and culture is an amazing thing?! Something certainly missing from our teeny tiny school in the country.

  8. My ten year olds last assignment was a PowerPoint presentation on our local landmarks. Not content with a few pictures and accompanying blurbs, he needed fancy swipes, he wanted the headings to bust out of the page, he wanted to tap the screen and for pictures to pop out and disolve away. He wanted music. ‘It needs to be engaging’ he said. ENGAGING!! I added a few star wipes and told him he was on his own. He didn’t want an assignment, he wanted a pitch.
    He was pitching, the fecking mushroom tunnel!!
    Back in my day, assignments and class presentations were not engaging, they were dull pictures drawn on coloured cardboard and commentated by kids who read slowly and picked their nose while they did. I felt like Ralph Wiggum helping him with his assignment. X

    • Love it! A pitch! I suppose the copy and pasting from the web into a power point press is no different from the old project packs that we used to get from the newsagent.

  9. I have a one year old and one on the way, and I feel completely I equipped to home school them, but have very little faith in the education system teaching them what they really need to know, to both work and live. There are many many jobs out there (probably the sort that most people have!), that aren’t relevant to a uni/TAFE degree, and don’t relate much to all that is learnt in high school, but we/they have no idea these jobs exist until a couple of years into their work life.
    And what about important life skills like compound interest, how a mortgage works, credit ratings, doing a budget, cooking and eating healthily, where food comes from. And other information, that we simply should know – the Australian political system, (relevant and accurate) Australian history, including our history before white people settled here, the stolen generation (both Aboriginal and forced adoption), our part in the wars, general world geography, religion (not just Christianity, but all kinds if different religions around the world).
    I really could go on about it all day, obviously it’s on my mind a lot. I feel like so much of what is learnt is a complete waste of time (in year 8 history, I learnt about medieval times… WTF?), in geography we learnt about volcanoes, and I actually had a class called ‘film appreciation’, where all we did was watch movies.
    How will our kids buy houses without understanding interest, be healthy without understanding food and feel compelled to be part of change without understanding how much has changed and how and why!
    Sorry, rant over

    • Go the home schooling!! There are some really good home schooling blogs out there, and so much other info to be a home schooler. If you’ve got the drive, do it!

      • Oh no I couldn’t do it…I have NO patience. None. My children would just hear my screaming all day!! Good on you for doing it if you do – hats OFF!!

        • Haha, I think there was a critical error in my typing – it should have said I am ‘ill’ equipped to home school! I just couldn’t do it! Plus I think the social aspect of school is really important!

  10. I can answer the wine question: 1.5 glasses (well that’s my limit anyway)
    I miss James Valentine. He doesn’t get air play where we are, we are too far south, ‘in the country’. You’re still in the city if you get to listen to James ! (as far as I am concerned anyway).

  11. Fashionista says

    Education is such a different ball game now. Absolute hats off to teachers, they are truly heroes. IMHO.

    While I learnt a great many useful skills during my school and university education, the most useful (rated on a “use them every day basis”) skills were acquired in high school Home Economics. I am old enough to have been part of the “girls do Home Ec and boys do manual arts” generation. Our Home Ec teacher taught us not only the basics of home management; how to cook & sew on a budget for a family, home design & decor (I kid you not, my bedroom assignment was a fright of chintz), mothercraft (not kidding there either, having children was so not like mothercraft), finer skills such as cake decorating (to this day I can still make a mean royal icing) and how to write a formal dinner invitation (and what actually is a formal dinner). She also answered all sorts of sex education questions with brutal honestly, correct anatomical terms and a dose of moral lecturing for good measure.

    So all that, and how to touch type (girls do typing and boys do tech drawing). Who knew that the future would be keyboard dominated and touch typing would be such a useful skill?

  12. Lisa Mckenzie says

    I think they need to learn it all,the basics,some cooking some education where food comes from ,like a school garden type affair,writing ,reading real books and history and maybe some languages if they want to,also they need to be computer and internet literate as well.I am so glad my children are grown up,it is very hard worrying about your children’s schooling,good luck Beth!

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