“Goods and Services” and 2nd Grade

As many of you know we live in Atlanta and our kids are already in week 3 of school. I have a 4th grade son and 2nd grade daughter who go to a great City of Atlanta public school – Sarah Rawson Smith Elementary.  The school is an International Baccalaureate member and has a great team in place from Principal to teachers to a dedicated staff. Most importantly the staff and classes all look like America today, not like the Leave it to Beaver days of my education. A cute quilt of Black, white, brown, yellow . Some international students as well to add to mix…

As a 56 year old I attended 2nd and 4th grade 49 and 47 years ago respectively in the then all white suburb of Oak Park, IL and I am just blown away by the difference between our “reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic” education and all the things that our children are learning in the course of the normal school curriculum, in concert with the the “3 R’s”.

Last night my 7 year old was engaged in a conversation with my wife asking her what she did when I walked in.

“Daddy” she said “You work with software so that’s a service, right?” I told her it was. The she asked my wife who is a designer/decorator/artists if she was in “goods” since she made things for people. She said that was right. I looked at wife and just shook my head amazed that this small child was already looking at the world so much more expansively and differently through her 2nd grade eyes.

This morning I had to drop off some paperwork at school and decided to drop into her class since I had not met her teacher, a very nice young man named Mr. Monroe. I popped in for a sec shook his hand and as I was leaving he had the kid’s full attention and was saying “Now remember yesterday when we learned about goods and services..”

I shook my head as I walked up the corridor past the 2nd then 1st grade classes pausing to look at their artwork and stories on the way… “Goods and Services”. Learning about the world at 7 from that perspective…amazing.

When I got to the office I said to one of the school administrative staff who is a good friend – “You won’t believe what they are studying in Lilly’s class. Goods and services.”  She laughed and we both agreed we had probably never heard the terms until high school…if not from Samuelson in Econ 101 in college!

So half a century after my time in grade school we live in an diverse community in an interconnected world and the kids take French daily (full immersion, the teachers speak French only), have a really interesting cross disciplinary curriculum from the IB program that helps ties the world into all they do from culture to history to ecology and a reading program called “Great Books” that teaches the kids to read, understand, write, tell stories and engage with world through books.

We knew about lions, tigers, bears, elephants and giraffes. They study all kinds of whales, sharks, Pandas, penguins and can tell you all about the habitats and ecosystems they live in. In first grade they even did their own Powerpoint type multimedia presentations standing in front of  the parents and class on a polar creature!

Technology of course plays a big role – plenty of networked computers in every class – and my daughter – who complains like any kid about her 10 minutes of daily homework thinks nothing of spending an hour on a great tool –  “First in Math” on the computer for fun and to win digital ribbons and medals and maybe help get a pizza party for her class.

So ” Goods and Services” , understanding and interconnectedness. That is a lot different – and lot more interesting – than the plain old “3 R’s” of 1962…

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