Modern Education

 
Apparently the U.S. is doing a major revamping of its elementary education right now — the idea is to prepare the kids for the 21st century. Since there isn’t time to teach everything, a lot of schools have dropped cursive writing from the curriculum. The argument is cursive takes a lot of time to learn and being adept at the keyboard is more important. In one school where cursive isn’t taught in class a teacher has started an after-school cursive club. It isn’t as popular as most clubs, but there is some interest. As one student said, his mother and grandmother still write in cursive so he wants to keep the family tradition going. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel like a museum relic. :D

What do you think? Do you think dropping cursive is a good idea? What do you think the schools should be focusing on to prepare the children?

Thanks to Rummuser, bikehikebabe and Cathy for commenting on last week’s post.
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12 Responses to Modern Education

  1. Mike says:

    I don’t care whether it’s cursive or some other way to write by hand. People need to be able to use something other than computers to write things down, take notes, or anything else where notes are useful and a computer or handheld device is not available. (Of course, I am writing this comment by dictating it to my smart phone.)

  2. Jean says:

    Mike,
    Thanks for the chuckle! I agree that the kids should have some non-electronic ways of taking notes/communicating. I’m assuming they will still learn to print, and I also hope that at some stage they will at least learn to read cursive. It will be interesting to see how the experiment turns out.

  3. Rummuser says:

    We call it running hand writing over here and I find that I still need it though I use my smart phone for a lot of stuff for the stuff that I used to note down on small spiral notebook and pen that went with me wherever I went.

    I don’t think that we can completely do away with hand writing of some sort. Like Mike says, we will need to do those things and most importantly, signatures will still have to be hand written though that also seems to be on the way out with iris identification, thumbprint id etc.

  4. bikehikebabe says:

    I wondered why my grandchildren write their thank-you letters via snail mail, in print. They don’t practice running hand writing.

    I have to remind myself this is the 21st century when I see 2013. Looks like the 20th century + 13.

  5. Cathy in NZ says:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/fellowfeed/49-things-you-learned-in-school-that-are-now-compl-77kb

    I also found this online, well actually a similar conversation is taking place with an online group of mine…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/10/29/letter-from-disgusted-teacher-i-quit/

    I don’t know if these things have been abandoned in NZ but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are.

    Another arena that has blossomed in NZ is the need for education after teens have left school because they cannot get good jobs. There are “schools” for all kinds of things: computers are the main one, but you can get educated in hairdressing, security aspects, even general English certification. Much of it has gov’t/similar grants so the participants pay nothing or very little, but often you have to be within a certain ethnic group to be even accepted.

    These teens have been through the real education system and have somehow not learnt anything.

    There is at least one at the end of my street and the semi-adults stroll past my gate everyday, some look to me to be totally unemployable, they never smile (sometimes if I’m on the street, I will say “hi” – get all kinds of results)

    http://www.best.ac.nz/ – this isn’t my one, but nonetheless they have a branch in New Lynn – another street, not far from here.

    I don’t know the success rate although occasionally you will see a newspaper article about someone – achieving something fabulous. I don’t even know how many students are in these programmes…

    But it worries me that even in my small street I might see many, many young people needing more education :-)

  6. Evan says:

    Cursive has no advantages over printing – it is no faster or more legible.

    I think high schools should just be blown up. Ask kids what they want to do and try to do. Then match them up with ways to do it.

    As to earlier. Reading, writing, maths, how to eat healthy, doing enjoyable exercise, knowing your own feelings and those of others, how to talk to others well.

    And all taught by doing not talking about.

    One meta-reflection. In all the debates about education listen for the discussion of how people learn. You won’t hear it. Listen more; you won’t hear it more. The silence screams.

    In brief people learn best by engaging with meaningful tasks supported with loving and intelligent guidance. (Not necessarily delivered in person but this is often best.) Am I saying that current schooling gets in the way of learning? YES!!!

  7. Jean says:

    Rummuser,
    A lot of signatures I see nowadays don’t seem to have much connection to cursive. They’re more works of art.

    bikehikebabe,
    Thanks for the info about your grandkids. At least they send the thank-notes by snail mail. I’m guessing that tradition will disappear too.

    Cathy,
    Thanks for the links. I was especially impressed by the letter from the fed-up teacher.

    Here we have community colleges where people, including adults, can get further education. Like everything else they have funding problems– I think they’re a better use of taxpayer money than backing student loans for overpriced colleges that the kids can’t afford.

    Evan,
    Yes, our educational system needs a complete overhaul, but I can’t picture that happening in the time I have left. At least here parents have the option of home schooling their children.

  8. Cathy in NZ says:

    The community colleges that specialised in many evening classes, some weekend classes – took a severe battering when gov’t funding was cut.

    Some still offer as many classes whilst other have disappeared. http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/central-leader/8236201/Community-education-continues-despite-cuts

    There is also continuing education available…but often the costs put paid to classes actually going ahead.

    I have applied to take a week day class for this term, but I won’t know for a few weeks whether it is going to run!

  9. Ursula says:

    Never heard so much nonsense in my life: Since when does ‘joined up writing’ take time to learn? You just learn it, for heaven’s sake. Try quantum physics. Go with the flow. We just did it. It took my son zero time to master the keyboard (ten fingers blind) and when he writes his poetry or his songs he bloody does so in his notebooks, by hand, by choice, and, yes, in cursive writing. So pleasing – aesthically. The world and its education has gone mad. Where on earth did we ever take the time from to learn Latin, Greek and modern languages not to forget everything else (insert sarcastic smiley)? Honestly, Jean, and I know you are a more measured person than my heated self, but there are times I could cry not only over today’s schools’ curriculum but the complete humbug spoken.

    Anyway … must cool down … Wish you could see my lovingly written down notes: Not that I can decipher them all. But that’s beside the point.

    U

  10. Cathy in NZ says:

    I’m quite sure you didn’t learn Latin overnight or for that matter writing – whether joined up or not. Okay you might have got some curves on your first try but did the word actually say “cat, bat, house” – I doubt it.

    I can touch type because I learnt that skill on an elderly manual typewriter (limited keys) with a bib on in 1968! When I got into computers, everyone including the tutor believed I knew what to do because I could “touch type” but they soon found that I had no idea about a lot of things…including how to change the font, find a font, hit other buttons on the keyboard (this around 1998, actually can’t remember maybe year before)

  11. Ursula says:

    Not sure what you are trying to convey, Cathy. All I know and maybe I was lucky, my son was lucky, and most people I know were/are lucky: Learning is easy. There is too much agonizing over everything. Just get on with it.

    Handwriting is bred in the bone. But, no doubt, someone will soon come up with the ludicrous idea that because we can digitally manipulate photos PAINTING (by our own fair hands) will be superfluous too.

    U

  12. Jean says:

    Ursula,
    Learning isn’t easy for some people, and even if it is some things take time. It’s a matter of priorities and the people in charge really don’t care what we relics have to say. A lot of kids aren’t learning what they need to cope with modern life. The new curriculum may be misguided, but there is a reason for the attempt.

    The trend is also to have the kids spend more time reading nonfiction, informational texts instead of literature. Apparently the kids are getting bored out of their minds and are shutting down, so the idea isn’t necessarily doing what was hoped for.

    So are we back to been agin’ ‘em all?

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