In one ear and out the other

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A significant percentage of adults have forgotten elementary school lessons, but does it matter?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 17, 2016

A recent survey conducted by YouGov revealed something worrisome: grown-ups have forgotten basic lessons in math, English, and science. One in five adults in the study admitted to having trouble with calculating fractions and percentages. About a quarter of adults cannot recall how to use a semi-colon in a sentence or the names of all the planets within the solar system.

Now, it might seem embarrassing for an adult to forget about lessons they spent so many hours studying in their youth. But that type of knowledge is now trivial. We live in a wonderful age where we are as smart as our phones. We calculate our bills with them, we end arguments with them, and we can easily relearn all that was taught to us in elementary school via watching YouTube on them.

The ability to remember everything taught to us is not necessary a product of smarts, but rather the product of skilled memory. We remember what’s important for us. While we are able to train our memories like we are able to train our bodies, many of us have more important things to deal with.

Remember when you were young and you memorized all 150 (at the time) Pokémon? Try recalling them now. We remember what is important to us. If we enjoy sports, we’ll remember names of athletes. If we like video games, we’ll train our fingers to remember combinations. If we like history, we’ll remember specific moments and characters from the past. We choose what to remember.

Adults who have forgotten about math, English, and science lessons aren’t stupid. They’ve been putting their cognitive energy into other things in their lives that require it. They don’t have time to sit down and review their elementary school lessons once a week. Nobody is going to randomly do long division if they don’t have to.

But should they? Sure they should. Everybody should be confident with math, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day to be proficient in everything.

Elementary education is the basic foundation for lessons in the rest of our lives, but now that we are older we can happily decide what we need to know. And luckily, we are living in an age where if we do want to learn something or review something, we can do it with a few clicks. Intelligence is not the ability to memorize everything. Intelligence is the ability to find the answer when it is needed.

Adults today are different from the adults of the past. We can store our knowledge in the cloud and pull it down when it is needed. This gives us more room in our brain to think about other things.

Stay the night

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What to expect when you invite a couple over to your place

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. February 3, 2016

Behind closed doors, it doesn’t matter what two people do. Regardless of who’s home or where you are—as long as it’s private—people deserve their privacy. You cannot govern someone’s sexual behaviour even if it is on your property. Naturally, when you invite people over to your place for a sleepover, a weekend, or a vacation getaway, you don’t often jump to the conclusion that your home would turn into a sleazy hotel room. But people do have sex, and you’ll have to accept it.

As a host, it’s impossible for you to keep track of your guests 24 hours a day. Should you hear some bump in the night, remember that they are just enjoying themselves and it’s temporary. Brush it off or laugh it off. If it’s too obvious to ignore, it’s your right as the host to pull your guest aside later on the next day and let them know that sex is okay, but they should perhaps be more discreet.

As a guest, it’s your job to be respectful. Depending on the person’s home, you can gauge whether raucous noise in the middle of the night will be frowned upon or if others in the house are probably getting some as well. There’s a difference from staying at your in-laws’ and your friend’s summer home.

I’m quite liberal with sexual freedom. People should be allowed to have sex, especially when it is private. Even when it isn’t, I live by the rule: if nobody knows, nobody cares. Yes, afterward someone will have to clean up the sheets, but hell, if the hosts weren’t prepared to do a bit of cleaning, they shouldn’t have invited people over.

You cannot welcome people into your home and say things like “make yourself comfortable” and then get angry because they did something you didn’t want them to do. When you open the door to people, you have to accept that they will do what they do. Your house is not a prison and you’ll just have to trust that your friends and family members will just behave and be respectful.

One of the worst fears for many people is walking in on others having intercourse. If that is a genuine concern while you are hosting, then maybe you shouldn’t have them sleeping in the living room or in an area without a closed door. If you don’t have any other options, then that is just a risk you are going to have to take. Maybe when they are “asleep,” you shouldn’t go wandering into where they are staying. If they are in their room, don’t go barging in. Follow the old rule: before you turn the corner, knock.

Let’s be adults. Sex isn’t that big of a deal. There are far more traumatic things in the world. Get over it and stop acting so stuck-up.