Can you read cursive writing? Do you know why democratic values are important? | An alternative view | Diana Diamond
“I don’t read cursive,” the CVS store clerk told me when I handed over my friend’s somewhat indecipherable shopping list, asking her what she thought was the third item. She looked at the cashier and asked, “Sharon, do you read cursive script?” “No,” was his response. “My school didn’t teach it.”
Call me naive about what students learn today, but I was absolutely amazed that neither of these two young women could read handwriting – only capital letters.
How did learning to read written words disappear from our school systems in this country?
This question led me to the web, where I immediately realized three things: a) the teaching of cursive writing has been eliminated from school curricula since the early 1980s, b) many more subjects taught at era have also been abandoned, to an alarming extent, and c) how drastically what children are learning today has changed from the fundamentals I learned years ago.
I saw a site where four pre-teen college students were asked about the need for cursive writing. Two of them rejected it because it was “too hard” and “complicated” to learn – all those curves – and they didn’t want to struggle. Two others said it would be useful to them, but they still want to use capital letters to write.
Generally speaking, many courses that were taught in the 1980s no longer exist today: civics, Latin, cursive writing, home economics, shop, Roman numerals, trigonometry, American history sections, world history, typing, library research and even traffic education. — and more.
Research papers are also out of fashion, unfortunately, I think, because I remember some I did in high school, like a 20-page report on the Ku Klux Kan’s nasty anti-black discriminatory maneuvers, with actions still occurring but under the banner of today’s white supremacy.
Schools still have libraries, but now they are called media centers and have far fewer books.
“Life skills” – like how to write a check or get a mortgage or how to manage money or even sew on a button – have been eliminated. But the kids are now interested in any course that could help them earn more money!
My biggest concern is the disappearance of civics classes. Why? Because civic education is about our democratic form of government. This is where most of us learned how our government works – the executive, legislative and judicial tripartite arrangement, the role of the House and Senate, elections in our country, voters’ rights, citizenship democracy, civic engagement, etc. Our nation is at a time when the chances of losing our democracy are real. And yet, a lot of young people yawn when we talk about it because I think they don’t understand the importance of democracy.
American history is also on the way out, as is student knowledge of our nation’s history. A 2014 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only 18% of American high school students had a command of United States history.
Some of our politicians don’t have a clue what ideals and principles our founding fathers used to establish the birth of our nation and who was involved or why it matters. Not a good way to run a country. It’s also very sad when students don’t know how many stars there are on our national flag or why.
Teachers aren’t particularly interested in teaching history, a website said, because many of them don’t know much about history themselves, and also history isn’t l one of the subjects that measures a student’s success, so why even teach it, many of them mask it.
All of this, to me, is a rather catastrophic portrait of what our children are not being taught in schools today.
Many will say that students don’t need to learn things like typing or Roman numerals – they use their computer or calculator keyboard from an early age and will understand. They don’t need a story because it’s an ever-evolving topic, with progressives leaning on civil rights issues and conservatives loudly complaining about critical race theory. Everything historical now has different interpretations, so why does it matter, some teachers and parents ask.
But I also think the big shift happened in the late 1980s when STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses became almost a mandate for the future curriculum of our schools. For a brief period there was an effort to include arts and human subjects (STEAHM), but this came to nothing.
To me, while many Silicon Valley technicians and engineers would certainly disagree, a preponderance of STEM-only courses is not the answer for a functioning society. We must build on our past cultures to move forward into the future.
So today we are left with a questionable and ever-changing curriculum and a somewhat dispersed array of subjects our children are learning.
Rather, we must incorporate the humanities, psychology, civics, and philosophy into our country as we move forward.
Our students today and what they know is the future of our country tomorrow.
To encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, story comments are available to registered users. If you are already a registered user and the comment form is not below, you must login. If you are not registered, you can do so here.
See our registration requirement announcement for comment.