The West Australian

Go back to basics

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News that schools are now running classes on “consent” is all well and good, but I really wish they would spend a bit more time on basics like the three Rs.

My granddaugh­ter is in Year 5 at a highly regarded primary school. She likes to play schools when I babysit her, and out of this came the appalling realisatio­n that she has made it through to Year 5 with not even the most basic grasp of mathematic­s.

She was unable, for example, to multiply 4 by 132.

But it gets worse. She could not tell me the product of 4 and 7 , that is, “4 times 7”.

Subtractio­n is fine, until if as much as one integer on the bottom line exceeds the integer on top — she has no idea how to proceed, for instance, in 372-194. Way back when I was at primary school we recited the times tables up to 12 until we dropped.

Rote learning — nope — out the window that goes. But I’m almost 70 and tell you what, I can still rattle off the answer to 9 x 12, 6 x 7 and so on.

My poor granddaugh­ter looks like graduating into high school the year after next without these skills. Her teacher, in an email to my daughter, said the child had “no academic issues”.

And what about NAPLAN? My granddaugh­ter has been through umpteen of these, the purpose of which (or so I thought) was to identify such shortcomin­gs and expedite their immediate rectificat­ion. Nope. It’s all just window-dressing. My heart breaks.

John McClane, Leeming

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