Saturday, February 21, 2009

What is functional academics

Recently, I had been to a bookshop to buy some books for my daughter. Eventually I picked four books for both my children. As I presented the books for billing, the lady at the counter, seemed more like an apprentice to me, went about her work diligently. She wrote out the titles and their costs. She then pulled out another piece of paper and started to calculate the total. This is what she had to total. (30+30+30+45).She had to redo it a second time and unable to do it she then pulled out a calculator. I prompted her, the answer. (More out of habit).After having got her answer, she entered the “totel” with a flourish on the bill. The incident made me think. This is just not about her, but many people who rely heavily on technology. Here was this lady in her late twenties/early thirties, “normal” in all aspects struggling with a class 1 addition problem. I am badgering my 8 year old autistic son with addition and multiplication every day. It might be a simpler solution to teach him to handle a calculator, with everything from addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. After all he is going to use these skills only for everyday living not some high end mathematical formulas. A calculator would do the job. Why am I doing this? He needs some money skills to go buy himself a couple of things, time sense to go about his routine, self help skills, and at a later stage some vocational skills for a living. Is it that I pride myself that my son can do addition, or that I can leave the options open for mainstreaming at a later stage. Or is it the simple joy that he is able to do all this and maybe has the potential for more. Why can’t we have a different set of benchmarks for them? Sometimes we reach, a dead point,what next? It is like a checklist of things to do say you are done with number identification, counting, then addition ……….subtraction Maybe it is important to focus on some other skill sets .Don’t blind children have Braille? Is it necessary to know by rote the tables? Why should a child with fine motor difficulties, be expected to write like a 2 grader? The education system is such that, and we are so much part of it that we have imbibed these values. What if I just wanted to focus only on language skills that my son is good at? Teach him to type;use a word document for instance,something that could be put to use as part of his vocation. Everybody harps on functional academics but who is to put it to practice? Please leave your comments on this.

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