The Three Rs
By Aishling O’Connor
Looking back over a distance of 60 years, I often reflect on the education I received in the convent school I attended, which was supposed to equip me for life. In the Fifties, boys were brought up to be ‘the providers’ while girls were taught about household and domestic matters.
Both roles were clearly defined. Nobody at that time could have envisaged all the changes that would take place in our society, which would see much of what we were taught consigned to history.
The school curriculum was very simple in those days with the emphasis on the three R’s and ‘catechism’. A brief dabble into history and geography brought us up to speed.
One of my favourite subjects was mental arithmetic which was ‘doing small sums in your head’. My students laughed openly recently when they heard me mention this. What on earth is ‘mental arithmetic?’ one girl asked, as the entire class dissolved into hysterical laughter.
The word ‘mental’ today is used by young people to describe someone or something that is ‘not cool’. The word ‘cool’ itself has undergone a Metamorphosis over the years.