Posts Tagged ‘school’

The presence of . . . data analysis?

September 30, 2010

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.)

“Yes.”

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.”

Oh.

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