Essay / Education

Cursed Cursive

I hate writing in cursive. When I have to write with a pen onto paper I print. The last time I wrote anything in cursive other than my signature was when I was taking the GRE to get into graduate school. The ETS testing folks mandate that you rewrite the GRE statement of honesty in cursive (it says on the form YOU MUST NOT PRINT). Cursive I guess this helps prevent anyone else from taking the test for me. It was clear after I was done rewriting the rather long paragraph that no one could ever forge my cursive writing, and I am not sure I could reproduce the paragraph in the same way twice.

Interestingly, the state of California mandates that all third and fourth graders write in cursive. I am not sure why. When I quizzed my children’s elementary school teachers on the necessity of my children learning to write in cursive–the best explanation they gave was that my children needed to be able to read cursive writing. I am not sure how writing in cursive translates into reading in cursive. Couldn’t they just learn to read it (and when was the last time you had to do that) and not write it?

No educator that I know thinks that cursive writing is a necessary skill for today’s student. How many children are wasting precious time to figure why a capital “Q” in cursive looks like the number “2”. Surely, they can do something more productive with their time—like play more kickball or tag. At least in those endeavors they would learn social skills and sportsmanship.

This seems to me to be another instance of the public educational bureaucracy in action. Of course, by the third grade students are already being trained to understand that the reason they are getting educated is not to improve their mind/souls, but because it improves their “human capital”—that is their ability to contribute to the future labor force. It is great to know that by the third grade students are being trained to think of their educational experience in terms of their economic viability, and not of the holistic value of education itself.

You would think that Christian writer GK Chesterton was describing today’s public educational system when he said, “Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know.” Christians need to realize that much of our public education system is training our children to be cogs in the economic machine, and not enabling them to pursue what is truly beautiful.

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