It's a link to the Diane Rehm show from this morning. I got myself lost retrieving Dear Son's tuba from the tuba repair guy so I got to listen to most of it.
I had kind of weaned myself from news shows since the last election. I was getting so overwrought over the studip on the radio, even on the rarified waves purporting to be NPR (sometimes I wondered), that I was yelling at radio personalities ("Mom, they can't hear you...") during car-pool. A few times, I even forgot to drop off the other kids and pulled into my driveway in a huff with a car full of not-my-progeny who meekly from the back seat asked if they should just walk home. Time to cut the crazy out of my life.
For a year or so, I listened to books on tape or on the ipod. Good enough. Lately, though, I've been feeling out of the loop. Like, I totally had no idea Carmageddon was even a word, let alone a big hairy deal and I read about the Norwegian bombings on Twitter. Time to re enter the fray, I thought to myself.
The first several car rides with NPR were only mildly upsetting. The interview with the Tea Party guy yesterday, for instance, who doesn't believe that the Congressional Budget office is telling the truth when they say that the deadline for renewing our credit rating is August 2nd. He thinks it's probably sometime a week later so we have plenty of time to hammer out something that he and his constituents can swallow. "I've got something for you to swallow," I muttered as I pulled in to pick up the CSA share. (Saturn peaches! OMG! Who knew? Not sharing.) See? No ranting, just muttering.
But this morning had me yelling again. Several states, it turns out, are eliminating the Palmer method of cursive from their curriculum. Actually, Missouri did just this 12 years ago. Doesn't mean it's not taught, just not tested. Sheesh. Duh, the handwriting grade having been the bane of my 3rd graders' existences -- both of 'em. Not fine motor kids. Anyway.
The panel on the show today discussed (ad nauseum) the merits of cursive writing, with the lone dissenter being a scientist from Oberlin talking about kids and the digital age.
Wah, wah, kids should be able to read and write in cursive, wah, wha, cursive taps into the creative part of the brain that's left un tapped by a computer, wah, wah, your cursive signature is your calling card, wah, wah, no one writes anymore and no one saves any of their writing and look I have a shelf full of Edith Wharton's letters to her friend which I treasure, wah, wah.
1. Kids should be able to read cursive, yes, and it is nice to have a familiarity with writing cursive as it's much quicker than printing (Scientist woman discussed the origin of the Palmer method in businesses in the 19th century -- it was called joined writing then I think and was the precursor to shorthand.) Having to copy cursive letters a la Palmer had my son doing just that. Copying them. Laboriously, one at a time. When you have to think too much about forming the letters, you are not thinking about content. (An OT caller pointed this out, to no avail.)
2. There is no science (according to Scientist Lady or SL from now on) to back up the idea that centering yourself in front of a notebook with a pen and writing in cursive taps into any different part of your brain than typing does. Like they hooked people up to brain scans -- no science. What there is evidence of is the increased level of thoughtful revision that takes place using a key board as opposed to a pen and paper. And the measurable increase in sheer volume or number of words. Not always a good thing, but hey, measurable. I mean, duh, I type way more words than I'm willing to hand write. And I revise both on the fly and after the fact much more easily using a word processing program than I can on paper. More neatly too.
3. Yeah, a signature means something. But you don't need one to file your taxes any more. Or to use a credit card. My kids' signatures are pitiful. Not the least bit flowery or Declaration-of-Independence worthy. They should probably work on that. Hubster's signature consists of some humps, some ticks, and a straight line. Seriously. So easy to forge it's a shame. And the caller who said she doesn't even consider a teen applicant to her mall shop who can't sign the application with a nice cursive signature? Discriminate much? What else ya got?
4. No one writes any more? Are you kidding? My kids write way more than I ever did as a kid. I wrote thank you notes to Grandma Buckley and that was it. Well, and this one weird chapter thing in 7th grade because I was in love with David Galucci and had to get my feelings on paper. My kids text and post on Facebook and blog. They write stories and comment on news websites. All of that is writing. Heck, I write way more now than I ever did before I started blogging. And look at the sidebar... see? All saved for posterity. These are my letters to all of you. Seriously? Have you read Edith Wharton's letters? She would totally have had a blog.
Oh, I guess some of this is tongue in cheek. I love beautiful handwriting and aspire to it myself.
But, the fact that these folks stuck dogmatically to their ideas in the face of science which proved the opposite made me angry. And of course there was a generational divide. Older folks seemed to prefer what they've been taught and eschewed texting and tweeting and the language engendered by electronic media. They also tended not to categorize those activities as "writing". I disagree is all.
The show ended with a giant can of worms, though, and I really enjoyed the near sputtering that ensued. SL admitted to the fact that is is indeed much easier for kids to plagiarize now, with cut and paste, than it used to be, although most colleges, and even high schools, have a program that pretty effectively weeds this out if you have an electronic copy of the work. Yes, that is true. She also dropped the bomb that she thinks we need to have a more fluid idea of what constitutes plagiarism in the face of modern technology. I thought the host's head (not Diane) might explode.
I guess I'd like to hear what Science Lady's idea of this more fluid approach might be. To do that, I'll have to get her book. There are probably no naked Highland warriors in it though.
And speaking of naked, now, I am going to spin the new Spunky Eclectic Wensleydale fiber I got in the mail yesterday. And I'm going to listen to a bodice ripper while I do it. (Oh, this one's good -- long-lost daughter of a Russian nobleman raised by Dakota Indians, transplanted to Regency England, takes the ton by storm and captivates a brooding duke... fluff, fluff, fluff.) No more news programs for me today.