Days in the month?

I have to say that I was absolutely flabbergasted when a student last night – a senior in college, mind you – told me she didn’t know how many days were in each month. To me, that knowledge is just basic, something you learned early. I was taught a variation of the nursery rhyme:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Saving February alone

Or something like that. (My memory is a little hazy at this point.) I also became aware of the knuckles method at some point along the way (although I think it was the two-fisted version).

Looking for images today to go along with this post, I ran across this blog post on the same topic. The conclusion:

Simply stated, what is important to us we pay attention to and we learn to remember. What is not so important, we ignore or learn to discard. As teachers we need to realize that this fundamental of education is as true for our students as it is for us adults.

Yes, there are things that we as adults discard because the information isn’t relevant. Part of our job as teachers is to try to make things relevant. What we can’t do, so far down the road, is stop the entire class to teach something that should have been learned years ago, something that is relevant to the topic at hand.

A high school student doesn’t have the luxury of knowing what is relevant or not – they simply lack the experience to make an informed choice. And as adults, how many times have we had to go back and actually learn something that we should have learned in school?

My constant worry for the next generation is that they are picking and choosing what they want to learn and the schools are all too happy to oblige. That’s the reason I get students who can’t do basic math – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division – without the aid of a calculator. And that’s why I get students who can’t calculate certain allocations requiring the number of days in the month without the aid of a calendar.

What in the heck are they teaching these days?