Saturday, May 20, 2017

The three R's... or four?

In the Washington Post, Cathy Davis asked in January 2012
"What basic skills do kids today need to thrive in the 21st century digital age? The three R’s of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic were deemed essentials of mandatory public schooling in the 19th century Industrial Age where mass printing and machine-made paper and ink made books available to just about everyone for the first time in history. A student today needs a fourth R:  Reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic  and ’rithms, as in algorithms, or basic computational skills.  By getting the youngest kids started on algorithmic or computational thinking, we give them the same tool of agency and being able to make (not just receive) digital content that the three R’s gave to Industrial Age learners."

Can't argue with Ms Davis, although at my age I think I'm entitled to stick with just the three defined skills. Although thanks to BookBub my reading is staying affordable with free books and titles not costing more than EUR 0.99, there's Matthew Hall's new episode in his coroner Jenny Cooper series priced at EUR 9.66, an Elly Griffiths at EUR 9.99 and the latest case for Kommissar Pascha by Su Turhan for EUR 11.99 on my Amazon 'wish-list'. I shall, I fear, weaken and allow myself one of these this month!

This 'R' could also stand for Research. As I have admitted before, following search threads across the vastness of cyberspace is a wonderful way of filling the workng hours of a day. Much of my exploration is still focused on the years 1935 to 1940 in Germany. An intriguing chance discovery only days ago was the fact that the Nazis 'weaponized' innocent toys!

Board games such as Wir fahren gegen Engeland, ‘We’re sailing against England’, Wir Kampfen gegen den Feind ‘We fight against the enemy’ or Jüden raus, ‘Jews out’ (produced commercially without the support of the Nazi regime by the opportunists at Günther & Company in Dresden) encouraged children to compete with miniature weaponry to conquer enemy lands and clear gaming boards of pieces depicting caricatures of helpless or greedy Jews. I am mightily puzzled with regard to the thinking behind the example below, however; the ‘target’ appears to be in the immediate vicinity of Scarborought, exactly where I was located from about 1942 to 1944!

Doing the maths is instructive. It seems that in the month of February two individuals purchased Kindle editions of stories I had written, earning me around EUR 3.50. Given the paltry income deriving from my efforts as author, it is a blessing that for the past few weeks I have been remunerated for 'fact-checking' and in effect editing the work of an American writer whose chosen storyworld is the same murky German decade which still fascinates me with its ambiguities.

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