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the three Rs

The three tenets of education traditionally considered the most basic or essential: reading, writing, and arithmetic. (So named for the prominent "R" sound at the beginning of each word.) When a school begins seeing major performance issues across the three Rs, then it is time to revise its curriculum and teaching style.
See also: RS, three
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

the three Rs

reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic, regarded as the fundamentals of elementary education.
See also: RS, three
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

three Rs, the

Basic education. This term may have been coined by Sir William Curtis (1752–1829). According to several sources, this illiterate alderman, who became Lord Mayor of London, presented a toast to the three Rs: Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic. Whether or not this tale is true, the term was picked up by others and became current in the early nineteenth century.
See also: three
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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