In the continued trend to dumb down education in American public schools in order to make the curriculum more “relevant,” Georgia may join a growing number of states in deciding to stop teaching children how to write in cursive. This is the latest move in accord with the so-called “Common Core Curriculum,” which more aptly should be called the “Lowest Common Denominator Core Curriculum.”
In the most recent iteration of this curriculum, cursive writing is no longer a required subject; though states may take steps to try and re-insert the course. All parents who care about their children receiving more than a minimalist education, should demand officials in Georgia resist this latest bow to “relevancy” in education.
Advocates of the new, pared-down curriculum laud it because it does away with such “irrelevant” subjects as cursive writing. The ability to write longhand is seen as unnecessary, because students in this Brave New World of computers only need know how to type out commands on a computer keyboard.
Such a pinched and short-sighted perspective does a serious disservice to our children. This view reflects a completely wrong-headed notion that education is nothing more than a mechanism to equip children with only those tools deemed “relevant” for the challenge(s) of the day. In fact, the purpose of education is not to teach only that which is “relevant” today, but rather to discipline the young person’s mind and teach students to think beyond that which may confront them today. In its most fundamental sense, the purpose of education is to equip students to be able to think and analyze problems that will confront them in the future and in varied — often then-unknown — circumstances; not simply those things that confront them at the time they are in school.
Sure, the vast majority of students in today’s K through 12 will not become mathematicians or physicists. But simply because these subjects are not “relevant” in this sense, does not diminish or obviate the need to require the students — all students — to take these subjects in order to force them to develop basic analytical skills and an understanding of the forces at work in the world. These are life skills that will enable them to successfully compete later in life and in whatever fields they chose eventually to enter.
So it is with cursive writing. Students learn cursive not because they all will become professional writers or scribes. They learn it, first, because this is one of the primary ways in which modern man for hundreds of years has preserved and communicated ideas. The process of learning cursive also teaches the young mind to think and organize thoughts in a way that flows more easily and imaginatively than the stilted and childish block letters one learns in first and second grades.
Take a moment to marvel at the majestic words of our Declaration of Independence, preserved for prosperity in the flowing, longhand — yes, cursive — writing style with which our Founding Fathers communicated in the late 18th Century. Then picture in your mind’s eye the same document written in the simplistic, block letters of a contemporary second-grader. Ahhh, but, I forget; from the perspective of the contemporary, “Core Curriculum” advocate, this would be an archaic and sentimentalist exercise. Nowadays, students really don’t even need to know how to print; all they really need to know is how to type into a computer. And they don’t even need to know how to spell or punctuate properly; because, after all, their “SpellCheck” App will do that for them.
But take away their keyboard and their laptop, and their other personal electronic devices, and these perhaps otherwise brilliant students are as lost as babes in the woods; easy pickins’ for the students and professional from other countries who still must learn such “irrelevant” skills as mathematics, grammar, writing, history, literature, physics and foreign languages.
By Bob Barr — The BarrCode