The three Rs

The three Rs

The three R's (as in the letter 'R') is a phrase sometimes used [ [ Obsolete Skill Set: The 3 Rs — Literacy and Letteracy in the Media Ages] ] to describe the foundations of a basic skills oriented education program within schools: reading, writing and arithmetic.


The phrase 'the three Rs' is used because each word in the phrase has a strong 'R' phoneme (sound) at the beginning, and, obviously, due to the spellings of each word.

It can also be written with a fourth 'R', "arts", presumably then making the phrase 'the four Rs'.Fact|date=October 2007

It is widely believed that Sir William Curtis, an alderman who became Lord Mayor of London, once presented a toast to the three Rs "reading, riting, and rithmetic" thereby betraying his illiteracy. In any event, the term was picked up by others and so used from the early 1800s on.Fact|date=October 2007

It was also used regularly in Egypt until 1934, rumoured to have been implemented by Ahmed Ismail.Fact|date=October 2007

The Three Rs in the United States

The three Rs are often seen as dated and obsolete in an age of standards based education reform. Mathematics is now about writing, statistics, charts and communication. Increased emphasis is made on science, social studies, and physical education. Yet in the debate about education reform, many prefer the traditional, simpler approach of the three Rs to authentic assessment, rubrics and learning outcomes.

Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction., Terry Bergeson, has identified the new 3 Rs from Robert Carkhuff's 3 Rs as "Relating", "Representing" and "Reasoning". [ [ Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Sound Off ] ] Carkhuff was a self-published consultant paid $1 million to provide materials to help design Washington State's controversial standards based education reform program. Terry Bergeson has pledged that that all would receive world class standards diplomas, yet one half of all students and three-quarters of minority students are on track to have their diplomas revoked in 2008 because they do not pass the new 3 Rs standard set by the WASL standards based assessment. While over half of US students will be required to pass similar High school graduation examinations, because of objections from parents and education experts, no more states have adopted such requirements and some have dropped them in 2006. Advocates of the traditional education question how students who struggle with basic skills can be expected to be more successful at higher developmental higher order thinking levels. States like California abandoned similar standards in the late 1990s in favor of returning to basic skills.

See also

* Standards based education reform
* Traditional education


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