Maths Skills Vs The Ethics of Queueing

I found this really interesting article on Facebook, I think, posted by a teacher in Indonesia.

A teacher in Australia once told me: “It is much more important that our students know how to line up, than to be good at maths.”To which my reaction was, “Wow, teachers are allowed to think like that?”, because the exact opposite happens in our country (Indonesia).

When I asked her why, this was the Australian teacher’s answer:

It only takes each teacher about 3 months of intensive work to ensure students grasp maths skills, however, over the students’ 12 years of schooling, teachers also need to train students how to line up and appreciate the valuable lesson behind queueing.

Not all students will choose to work in professions that require maths skills beyond addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. Some will be dancers, olympic athletes, singers, musicians, artists etc. Only a very small number of students from any one class will choose a profession requiring a high level of maths. Whereas every student would benefit throughout their entire life from the moral and ethical skills learned through queueing.
Indeed, what other life skill is more important than queueing? There are many valuable lessons to be learned from queueing.

Time Management – Those students who want to be at the front of the line needs to be organised so they can be first in line.
Respect For Others – They learn to respect the rights of others, to acknowledge that those who line up first, get to stand towards the front. To consider others and not just focus on themselves.
Discipline – Student learn discipline, order and conformity so that they don’t impinge on the rights of others.
Creativity – Students think creatively about ways in which to avoid boredom while queueing. (In Japan, students read while queueing)
Socialisation – Students learn how to socialise by greeting and chatting with others in line.
Patience – Students learn resiliency and patience while queueing.
Cause & Effect – Students learn about consequences; if they are the last to line up, the consequence is that they will be right at the end of the line.
Disgrace – Students will be shamed by their peers if they try to jump the queue or push in.
Collaboration – Student learn to collaborate with the students immediately around them in the line; for example, if one needs to go the toilet, the others will hold their place for them.
Honesty – Students learn honesty both in relation to themselves and others.

The Australian teacher then said that there are many more benefits from queueing, and invited me to discover them for myself. Her explanation startled me and gave me something to consider.

Soon afterwards, I took my children to Kids Zania in Jakarta. Whenever we had to wait our turn in a queue, we saw parents and their children having serious issues with the aspects of queueing. There were parents who encouraged their children to sneak to the front of the line, thus taking the place of someone who had been waiting patiently, while telling their child, it’s ok to pretend that you don’t know any better. Another parent growled at their child and called them a coward because their child wouldn’t jump the queue. Another parent used a million excuses to justify why their child should be allowed to jump the queue – still young, tired of waiting in line, they live far away and have to leave soon etc. Another parent was furious because he was accused by one of the children in the line of queue jumping.
There were lots of foreigners also at Kids Zania and goodness only knows what they were thinking watching this all.

So sad that parents, teachers and the Department of Education focus solely on literacy, numeracy etc. Even though advanced countries have realised that teaching morals and ethics are much more important than just learning how to count.
Why is this country distancing itself from ethical and moral practices? What does the future hold for us if it is those children who queue jump their whole life, become our future leaders?

This should be a valuable lesson for all parents and educators in our beloved country. We need to realise that while queueing in itself is simple, within it are many life skills that will benefit children and should be practiced until they become second nature for all Indonesian children.

Come on, let’s teach our younger generation how to queue, for a better Indonesia.

I love it more for the Indonesian perspective on queueing rather than for the strange claims made by an “Australian teacher”.
Soon after reading this article, I then found this post on an American blog which seemed timely. It contains a list of ideas shared by teachers on ways they use to help with teaching their students about lining up and moving about the school thoughtfully. It certainly is a skill valued by our society, however not sure that it is more important than numeracy and literacy!!

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