Young learn­ing a les­son from the old

Cape Times - - INSIGHT - Ros­alie Small

The game not only helps sharpen the child’s math­e­mat­i­cal skills, but it also acts as a tool for en­rich­ing in­di­vid­u­al­ity and build­ing char­ac­ter from a young age

ONE or two truly up­lift­ing sto­ries came my way re­cently. What makes th­ese sto­ries in­ter­est­ing is that they con­cern older peo­ple as well as chil­dren, but the older en­hance the qual­ity of life of the younger, and not the other way round, which is of­ten the case. An­other point of in­ter­est is that they are not merely older; they have passed their 80th birth­days.

There is 80-year-old Nor­man Fred­er­icks who tells the touch­ing tale of how it hap­pened that he be­came a cham­pion against drug abuse. Af­ter the son of a friend of his died at the age of 29 due to drugs, he started think­ing about what he could do to help peo­ple fight that scourge. He de­vel­oped a board game, Mil­lion­aire in the mak­ing, to equip par­ents with the skills they need to turn their chil­dren into think­ing in­di­vid­u­als. The game is also di­rected at chil­dren be­tween the ages 6 and 16, and aims at teach­ing them fi­nan­cial wis­dom and healthy am­bi­tion, to choose their friends wisely, and to cul­ti­vate dis­ci­pline.

Fred­er­icks says: “Not only does the game help with sharp­en­ing the child’s math­e­mat­i­cal skills, but it also acts as a tool for en­rich­ing in­di­vid­u­al­ity and build­ing char­ac­ter from a young age.”

The game is un­com­pli­cated and is eas­ily un­der­stood by the young child. It is di­vided into two parts. One part fo­cuses on the build­ing of char­ac­ter, while the other part is aimed at teach­ing the art of be­com­ing a mil­lion­aire.

There are 12 cards, each rep­re­sent­ing a month of the year, and there are af­fir­ma­tions writ­ten on each card.

There are five dice and a job and salary chart. The job chart con­sists of ba­sic chores, marked from one to 30. Ev­ery day the child has to do a chore based on the sum of the fig­ures the five dice land on.

The par­ents must then give a small amount of money to the child which, says Fred­er­icks, will mo­ti­vate the child to do the chores daily.

While I am in full sup­port of us­ing games for teach­ing and learn­ing, I do have a prob­lem with mon­e­tary rewards for the com­ple­tion of chores.

Chil­dren, I feel, should be taught from an early age that the com­ple­tion of chores is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of all mem­bers of a house­hold, that a home func­tions ef­fi­ciently and hap­pily when all its mem­bers make a con­tri­bu­tion, such as com­plet­ing chores.

I pause at the word chore. It comes eas­ily to speak of house­hold chores.

The word chore, says my dic­tionary, means a rou­tine or te­dious task, es­pe­cially a house­hold one. And this is how many of us un­der­stand the word chore, es­pe­cially if its con­no­ta­tion is that of te­dium.

Yet, with­out the com­ple­tion of chores, house­holds can­not func­tion, or func­tion prop­erly.

Peo­ple such as Fred­er­icks must be lauded for de­vis­ing and de­vel­op­ing games that stim­u­late the minds of chil­dren, and en­hance teach­ing and learn­ing.

An­other older per­son I laud to­day is Arnold Hen­dricks who, at 83, is to­tally com­mit­ted to serv­ing his com­mu­nity. Ev­ery Thurs­day he runs a soup kitchen from his church, which is at his home.

He also does home vis­its to the el­derly and coun­sels youth about the danger that face some peo­ple who in­volve them­selves with oth­ers who do not con­trib­ute mean­ing­fully and in pos­i­tive ways to the life of a com­mu­nity.

Ac­cord­ing to the news re­port I read about his work, Hen­dricks “risks his life talk­ing to gang­sters and pray­ing for them and is a bea­con of hope for those who are suf­fer­ing from do­mes­tic vi­o­lence”.

For more than 40 years Hen­dricks has been ac­tive in his com­mu­nity. “I re­ally love what I do. I be­lieve for a bet­ter com­mu­nity one has to get one’s hands dirty.

“I can­not say I will help and be scared to go where the prob­lems are. If needs be, I talk to the gangs. I show them the way. I walk around the com­mu­nity, giv­ing hope and help­ing where I can be­cause I love my com­mu­nity. I want to see ev­ery­one live a bet­ter life.”

Fred­er­icks and Hen­dricks must be lauded for the dif­fer­ences they make in the lives of mem­bers of their com­mu­ni­ties.

And it is thanks to the com­mu­nity pa­per I re­ceive weekly that I learnt about their ef­forts and achieve­ments. Their ef­forts and achieve­ments and, yes, love for the com­mu­nity of peo­ple like that of Fred­er­icks and Hen­dricks, come to me via my com­mu­nity pa­per. And that is what a com­mu­nity pa­per should be do­ing, I be­lieve.

What makes the ef­forts and achieve­ments of Fred­er­icks and Hen­dricks so re­mark­able is, apart from their out­stand­ing ef­forts and achieve­ments, the fact that they are not only “older peo­ple” but are of greatly ad­vanced age – both more than 80 years old.

Un­doubt­edly, many peo­ple who think they might reach this mile­stone, think that that would mark “re­tire­ment”.

For­tu­nately for us, peo­ple such as Fred­er­icks and Hen­dricks did not think about “re­tire­ment”.

There are of course oth­ers who make re­mark­able con­tri­bu­tions to en­hance the lives of mem­bers of their com­mu­ni­ties.

The en­deav­ours and achieve­ments of all th­ese per­sons can­not be re­ported on, but we should re­mem­ber that there are those peo­ple and, even if we do not know their names, or know what their con­tri­bu­tions are, we should think about th­ese un­known and un­named men, women and chil­dren in our com­mu­ni­ties.

This is what com­mu­nity means – we are each and ev­ery one not sim­ply liv­ing iso­lated lives – we are in com­mu­nity with oth­ers or, as we learnt in So­ci­ol­ogy 101, hu­man be­ings are by na­ture com­mu­nal be­ings. We can­not live mean­ing­ful hu­man lives with­out the other.

Picture: FACE­BOOK

OCTOGENARIAN: Nor­man Fred­er­icks, who cre­ated the game ‘Mil­lionare in the mak­ing’.

Picture: FACE­BOOK

SMART MOVE: ‘Mil­lionare in the mak­ing’, the board game de­vised by Nor­man Fred­er­icks.

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