Ann, who lives in Australia, wrote:
I was not born in Australia and was shocked to learn that I speak the language better than many average ‘natives’…the education system here does not teach the kids proper use of the language, nobody really cares whether people understand the basic concepts, such as parts of speech, punctuation, modifiers. That, as well as the huge impact text messaging and geek-spell are having on the language, is why we are seeing such appalling writing everywhere. It greatly upsets language nerds like me.
I have noticed the same thing here in the United States, and author Alexander McCall Smith, who was born in Botswana [now Zimbabwe] and taught law there, has noticed a similar trend. In The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection, published in 2012, he describes the loss of basic math skills:
“If you ask [Charlie] to do some simple calculation—such as what the capacity of a fuel tank might be if you take a bit of it off—he looks blank and reaches for his pocket calculator.”
She thought about this. Some things just had to be learned through effort, and she was not sure how popular effort currently was. “It is all different,” she said. ”But these people who cannot add up are good at computers and things like that.”
“Maybe,” he said. “But there are things other than computers. There are proper machines with cogs and grease. Are they good at those? Are they good at fixing ploughs?”
What do you think? How important is it to know how to add, subtract, and divide without relying on a calculator, to write a complete sentence, to repair a plough? Or for that matter, grow your own food? Can the world get along without these skills?