My seven year old kid recently had a show and tell at the school.
He chose to sing the alphabet rhyme – with American Sign Language.
I can say that learning just the alphabet using sign language has been very helpful to us – Dad and kids. [Mom is usually too busy to concentrate.] It helps us communicate through glass, in noisy environment and all. It is surprisingly easy.
I wonder why we don’t teach short sign language and Braille as parts of regular curriculum? Teaching such skills will be tremendously helpful. Here is how:
- It is truly “multi-sensory”
- It creates empathy for the disabled – or differently able. So it is a training for the Heart, not only the Hand and the Head
- It is useful to know one more way of expression – read above for my comments about how it is useful
- It is an insurance of the student against loss of a sensory organ
- It forces brain to think in non-familiar terms – and I am pretty sure innovation may flood if designers knew more than just graphics and alphabets
- It makes you better communicator, more aware and observant of others body language and touch
- It would make the world more leveled for the disabled because more people will be able to communicate to them. For example, programming jobs can be easily done by the hearing impaired – but the trouble is major mass of programmers don’t know the sign language to communicate to them!
My list of other skills that should be taught in early years of education is somewhat like this:
- shorthands and typewriting
- speed reading
- music keyboarding
- various means of non-automatic locomotion – like bicycling, uni-cycling, swimming, skating on rollers or ice – probably even skiing, skateboarding, rowing, kayaking, …
- body language
- kite flying! This single course can develop the feel for vector calculus like anything!
- whole bunch of household skills – sewing, cleaning, cloth-folding, ironing
- whole bunch of hygiene awareness – calorie counting, exercises, sex education
- cooking – and efficient cooking
- almost entire syllabus of what is called “home science” in India
- one writing system from each type – alphabet, abjad, abugida/Indic, pictorial and Hangul – opens up thinking like nothing else
- whole of International Phonetic Alphabet – true preparation for a globalized world
- elementary psychology – and specially the Six Thinking Hats
- elementary accounting
- elementary finance
- a book on organized life
- judo, where you just use other party’s momentum to your favor – the essence of education 🙂
- civil defense (in form of fire drills, CPRs etc.)
- some survival skills – like making fire using flint, climbing trees etc.
- game of Chinese Checkers – to tell them that life doesn’t always mean “one’s gain must be others loss”
- group dancing – develops a sense of discipline, rhythm – and opportunity
- drama – develops a lot of good things – presence of mind, memory, empathy, teamwork, presentation, listening, coordination and what not!
What do you say?