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Education Matters: Readers weigh in on the good and the bad

July 30, 2010|Dan Kimber

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

I asked you last week for examples of things today that are better than they were "back in the day," leaving both periods indefinite, time-wise, and inviting any and all comparisons.

A few who contacted me went back as far as the 1930s, and others recalling subsequent decades remember more basic, work-filled lives and are thankful for modern living to the extent that machines now do most of the drudgery they once did.

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Esther writes, "We never had an electric refrigerator. On the farm, as long as grandpa was alive, ice blocks would be cut from the pond and stored with hay in a small stone house which was also used for a smoke house in the fall."

Others harkened back to childhood memories of similar vintage and were fairly unanimous in their appreciation for labor saving devices. Still others were nostalgic and recalled that, along with their drudgery, there was a certain pride in managing tasks that gave them a sense of accomplishment.

Here's just a short list I received from readers who added to my very short list of reasons to be thankful for the way we are compared to the way we were:

Cars: More fuel efficient, less polluting and safer.

Infant/child car seats: Definitely better — no possible argument there.

Kid's toys and video games: This would have come under the category of "mixed blessing" in my book, but Patrick writes, "Gone are the days when a stick and a cardboard box were enough to keep kids entertained for hours in their own imagination. I am amazed at the plethora of exotic and mind-bending toys that kids have to choose from today.

"Today kids (and many adults) sit on the couch at home and partake in virtual, life-like wars with people on the other side of the planet."

Somehow those of us of an earlier generation were satisfied playing with kids on the block or at the park around the corner. Last week, my 3- year-old grandson learned how to navigate YouTube (Pirates is his present passion), and I couldn't help but think that he was entering into a world that would tend to exclude all others around him (like me).

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