School Daze

Labour Day marks another change of scenery for the grandkids – Teddy is now officially in secondary school, Veronica is finishing up her junior high experience, and Susannah is right behind them in Grade 5.

As for the old folks, Nonna is now starting her 19th year of not returning to the classroom, a fact that is not lost on Grandpa. There were 50 Labour Days that I either returned to school myself or had a family member going back. That adds up to a lot of disruption and chaos – trust me.

In case you were wondering, the photo above was taken in Caledon at the then brand new St. Cornelius elementary school. This was the height of 1980s school architecture.

I figure Sarah was in Grade 4 when this photo was taken. It’s now been 27 years since we took her to the University of Guelph.

The classroom was an Age of Innocence situation compared to today. Maybe it had a single eight-bit green screen Commodore PET computer that nobody knew how to program. No remote learning or Google Educational Suite. No Chromebooks, wifi networks, Smartphones, Snapchat, Instagram or Tik Tok. Schoolyard bullying took place in the schoolyard and was a bit easier to spot and deal with. There were no controversies over cursive writing or times tables.

If you talk about this type of learning with our grandkids, they look at you with a sort of eyeroll disbelief. It’s as if you had to stoke the one room school woodstove and write on a slate back then.

A few years later Maria took courses in “Computers in the Classroom.” A central theme in her courses was an Apple program called Hypercard. Little snippets of information were digitally connected by hyperlinks.

At the time I thought this was one of the dumbest pieces of tech ever. To use it effectively you would need incredibly powerful processors, gobs of memory and storage, and much better graphics than even Apple Macs had at the time.

One of my Unilever colleagues was in Boston learning about how to network all sorts of computers in all sorts of locations. That should have given me a clue as to how wrong I was. Three years later we were on the World Wide Web. Go figure.

Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.
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