The presence of . . . data analysis?

It is Saturday evening and January is visiting. She is now in the third grade and packs a book with her wherever she goes.

We sit down to dinner and ask her: “So, January, how are things in the third grade?”

“Great,” she says.

“Are you learning a lot?”

She nods vigorously because her mouth is full of chicken.

“What are you learning right now?

January swallows and says, “Data analysis.”

The fork with my food on it stops halfway to my mouth. Data analysis?

“Data analysis?” I say out loud. But you are only in the third grade! (I say this only to myself.)


I am still disbelieving so I say, “What kind of data analysis?”

I get the perfunctory 8-year-old eye roll which tells me I must be a real dummy but January is too polite to say so.

“You know, Grandma. It is where you take numbers and put them on a chart or a graph to tell you what the numbers mean.”


But you are only in the third grade, I scream inside my head. When I was in the third grade, we had just finished addition and subtraction and were beginning to learn multiplication and division. Then I remembered that last year, in the second grade, January was already learning how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions (something I still occasionally have to look up the rules for . . . especially that dividing thing). I don’t think I even heard the word “data” much less connected with “analysis” until I was in high school.

While my befuddled brain is still trying to reconcile this information, January says, “And I’m taking keyboarding, too.”

Keyboarding? Now, I know I am ancient. Keyboarding (aka typing) was definitely a high school subject.

The accelerated life skills programming going on becomes clear. Our lives are evolving faster than our skill sets can keep up with them and January is riding that wave of evolutionary learning. She is not in an advanced or gifted class. She is in a standard third-grade public school class, but she already uses a computer regularly and, like most children I know, can figure out any remote control device.

She was born into the mainstream of a technological society and her brain has the capacity to absorb data and transform it into life skills that meet the demands of that society. Someone is looking into the future and asking the question, “What will we need to learn now so that we will be ready?”

While I make every effort to live in the present, humans are gifted with foresight, and we should all be asking ourselves that question: what is it that I need to learn now to meet the demands of my life tomorrow?

©Barbara L. Kass

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8 Responses to “The presence of . . . data analysis?”

  1. holessence Says:

    Oh Lordy, Barbara — DATA ANALYSIS in the THIRD grade?! It brings to mind the Virginia Slims slogan from years ago, “You’ve come a long way baby.”

    You and I are the same age. Neither one of ancient. Neither one of us is “old.” And while it’s been some time since we were in the third grade, it’s wasn’t centuries ago … Yes January is learning DATA ANALYSIS!

    I don’t have any grandchildren yet. I wonder what they’ll be saying at the dinner table when they’re in the third grade! With the speed of change, for all I know they will have driven over to grannie’s house in their own self-piloted car-plane!

  2. Barbara Kass Says:

    Hi, Laurie. I expected January to say something about geometry, maybe, or English, but I never ever expected to hear “data analysis.” And I agree with you: neither one of us is ancient. I was in the third grade 45 years ago . . . not even half a century ago. And I think I have kept up with the times! I have three laptop computers, understand wireless, and love flash drives. What fascinates me is how mainstream this type of thinking has become. Everyone needs to know it and kids like January are simply growing up with it. She is so wired in . . .

  3. ButterfliesGalore-Kimberly Grady Says:

    Thanks you wonderful words…

    I read it this morning to my mom, just before she went into surgery. I traveled yesterday afternoon for 7 hours to be with her….
    – got a couple hrs sleep!

  4. sandiwhite Says:

    Barbara, what can I tell you? Cameron started on computers in the fourth grade. I was mind-boggled, she took it in stride. My grandson Joey, soon to be 6, has the fastest thumbs in West and never blinks. Scares me silly. But why not? he had a Leapster at 3, Gameboy at 4, and the Good Lord only knows what the dickens he’s playing with now. I remember what a struggle it was for me to learn to write cursive in a way that others could read it too. I mastered that and developed very nice handwriting skills, important in the years that I worked as a secretary-bookkeeper. Now I hear that skill is obsolete, who writes by hand any more?

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      I know what you mean, Sandi. January learned how to print and knows how to write cursive, but I don’t think she has to do that perfect penmanship thing that I remember having to do (pages and pages of letters written over and over and over). I can still print and write very pretty, but I hardly ever even take notes by hand any more. Give me a laptop any day.

  5. Gil Says:

    What really blows my mind is how kids instant message each other all the time. My daughter will be watching TV and be online on her phone having six different conversations. Also today my 5 year old niece was taking the most amazing photos of us and the pets and the garden on everybody’s different cell phones. When I get a new phone it takes me months to figure it out. Its like they’re born knowing how to operate technology!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      I know. It amazes me how quickly and efficiently they learn the technology, and growing up with it does not make them afraid of trying it. I know people to this day who are still “afraid” of computers! I am like you with the phone. There are about 20 services on it that I don’t use. I have never texted anyone and really don’t have a need to. I am, however, proud of myself for figuring out how to set the alarm clock on it.

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