Workbooks? Not a great idea!

As a parent and someone with great interest in education of our Nation’s children, I wish to air my issues with the use of workbooks in the elementary school system.  There are 3 main reasons why I think that this is not the best approach to educating our youngsters.
The first negative in my mind associated with using workbooks is that parents and guardians are unable to pass down books to younger children as was the practice some years ago.  The pages are all marked up, and in order for the upcoming child to benefit from the lessons contained in the text, he has to get a brand new book.  Who benefits from this arrangement? Certainly not the parents, who are put out of pocket every twelve months being forced to buy brand new books instead of having the option to purchase a second hand book or pass down a used book.  Where parents are put under this pressure, it makes it less likely that they can purchase 100% of the book list requirement, thus compromising the overall delivery of information to our young ones.  The ones who stand to lose if the use of workbooks was obliterated are the book publishers and sellers.  But in an environment of scarce resources and an imperative to equip our citizens from the elementary stages in support of giving us a competitive edge, I think that the Ministry of Education should side with parents and children in doing what is best for them rather than the publishers and sellers of books.
The act of writing aids in committing information to memory.  Where children are asked to merely fill in blanks, I believe the learning process is being short-circuited, to their ultimate disadvantage. 
And lastly, penmanship, sentence construction and the working of math problems by laying out steps in enough space to accommodate it (versus being constrained by the miniscule space that the workbook designers think is sufficient) are all compromised by forcing these young learners to fit their answers into a prescribed slot with as few words as possible.
I’d like to throw out a challenge to our schools:  if the Ministry of Education will not reduce the numbers of  workbooks as part  of the recommended book lists for our schools, then schools can mandate that all working out and answers be done by children in exercise books, with no writing whatsoever to be done in the workbooks.  This will allow second hand books to be sold and passed on easing the burden on caregivers and allowing the children to optimize their learning process.  Furthermore, in the event that the publishers try to outsmart schools and parents  by issuing revisions every year if such an arrangement was indeed instituted by our schools, the Ministry could institute a policy of limiting revised editions to once every three years.
Let me be clear, I am not attempting to pit parents and schools against our book industry.  But in difficult times, difficult decisions have to be made.  I believe that giving the upper hand to parents and children will benefit the Nation more than giving the upper hand to book publishers and sellers.
The challenge is now yours, Schools and Ministry of Education.

Cafe Blue: The Response

My earlier blog entry Poor Customer Service at Cafe Blue got the attention of Management there, and I got the following response today.  I think the response is commendable, and I appreciate it.  I replied with thanks and also asked that they consider my simple and practical proposals.  I hope they do.  Since posting, I have received feedback from more than one person that their experience there has been less than satisfactory.  I think their product rocks, and I  hate to see entrepreneurs fail because of factors that are entirely in their control.  Entrepreneurs are that intrepid bunch of brave souls who risk capital and dream big…long may they live!

Good Afternoon Ms. McIntosh,

We sincerely apologized for your last experience at Cafe Blue.  I was forwarded your blogged regarding your experience at Cafe Blue and we are all very sorry that the issue was not handled with more urgency and care. We strive to provide you with the best possible strive, and when you feel that it fails to meet your expectation, its important for us to know, so as to address the issue. Please know that we take this very seriously. This was an oversight on our part and we sincerely apologize. We have already address and will be reviewing our procedures to avoid any reoccurrence of such event in the future.

Though this is no consolation to you for our lack of service, we would love to be given the oppotunity to regain your trust. On behalf of the Cafe Blue Team, we are offering you a Cafe Blue Gift Certificate which is valid until December 2012 as a token of our appreciate of having you as a Cafe Blue customer.

We sincerely apologize for your past experience and hope that your next visit will exceed the last.

Please let me know where and when you would be able to pick up the Gift Certificate.