Monday, July 11, 2011


A blogger I admire has seen fit to prepend a post as follows:

Now, I'm not naive. I knew that there would be epic levels of butthurt in response to this post.
What's the controversial topic, you ask? Picard versus Kirk? Mac versus Windows? Oprah versus Dr. Phil? Batman versus Superman? Bigfoot versus Loch Ness Monster? Michael Bay versus Meghan Fox? The rights of the accused versus the rights of victims? Dill pickles versus cocktail wieners? Dolphins versus sharks? Jets versus sharks? Propeller planes versus jets? Santa Claus versus Fabric Softener? Cursive versus print? Smokey and the Bandit versus Congo?

Don't be silly. Wait? What was that penultimate one? The topic is the decline of cursive writing in primary education, and Marcotte's conclusion is one I share with qualifications:
A lot of educational standards are things that continue on only because bitter adults don't want kids today to avoid having to suffer the same bullshit we had to go through ... The low grade sadism that's pointed at children for the crime of being young when we're not isn't justification enough for this nonsense.
Certainly resentment should not determine educational standards or much else. One would hope primary schools can find ways to develop fine motor skills and the confidence that goes with them, while imparting the value of creating something elegant on a blank paper or canvas. Cursive writing can be a simple, inexpensive, and practical introduction to artistic creation -- it can be -- but whether schools as presently constituted can accomplish such a delicate feat, let alone on a mass scale, is highly doubtful. I say let it go. It would be better to let cursive pass away than to grind it under the wheels of rote and budget-tightening.

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