Back in the Dark Ages (I remember having a slate in what we called Standard 1)(yep, that long ago)
…in a little “country” school (it’s now an outer suburb of Perth, but then it was the back o’ beyond) (yep, that long ago)
…Grades 5 & 6 had a single teacher and shared a schoolroom and we kids shared twin desks which were nailed to the floor. Yep, that long ago.
The teacher was a madman from hell, whose idea was to terrorise everyone into learning. We started the day with something called “mental arithmetic”. He went around the class asking everyone in turn things like: if you paid tuppence for one apple, how much were 28 apples going to cost you in shillings and pence? (Yep, that long ago.)
Boys were sometimes caned for not being able to answer; girls were simple terrorised. (Yep, gender discrimination.)
I was not much good at mental arithmetic, but I was better than the friend I sat next to, so I used to make marks on the desk with a finger to tell her the answer. All this did have one good effect: I grew up not needing a calculator. I wouldn’t advocate the method for today’s kids – but sometimes I do wonder…
Today I bought 10 lightbulbs. I asked the shopgirl how much they were. She said, $1.80 each (Malaysian ringgit).
She then proceeded to use a calculator to tell her that 10 x 1.80 = $18.00.