Thursday, May 8, 2008

Out With the Old, In With the New

I like my rose-colored glasses, and am not apologetic about liking old-timey things, even though I appreciate the modern world as well. I am glad we have high-def television, fancy washers and dryers, computers, GPS systems, and MRI machines. They are all wonderful and we are better off with them. But I miss things they replace, like doctors who are great diagnosticians, story telling by the fire, grand old libraries, fresh laundry whipping around on the line, seeing kids play outside all day long, and cursive writing.

I am sorry that more parents and schools don't insist on teaching cursive, even though it may soon be obsolete, if it isn't already. Children all over the world are learning keyboarding instead of cursive. Then again, parents all over the world hit "enter" to send an email far more frequently they stick a stamp on an envelope. We can't really blame anything except the societal changes that result from advancing technology.

I think this is a good solution to handwriting woes for kids who may have minor problems with it.
SpellingCity.com, which is a free site, has added a way to print out spelling lists in a traceable form that lets kids practice their penmanship at the same time that they practice their spelling lists.
You can do it at several levels, from large-line kindergarten through small-line cursive, at a few different line sizes. You can also print it out in sign language, which is fun if you want to learn sign, and great if you need to learn it.

I LOVED tracing things when I was a kid, even after I had learned to write on my own. For fun, I still try to learn different styles of handwriting, such as Spencerian,
which I am currently working on, but for kids who aren't excited about writing, or for kids who struggle with writing, these free printable tracing worksheets are wonderful. I like that kids can practice their spelling and penmanship at the same time, without making a big deal out of any of it.

Let's not let cursive die, friends! Make your kids write in cursive! It may even improve their reading.

Old School

I miss "old school" school.

I miss kids being able to go home during lunch and have some hot soup and a sandwich. They can't anymore, because no one is home, or perhaps they might stumble upon some drugs and do them instead of eating lunch, or maybe get pregnant, or HIV, or get abducted by the sexual predator who lives five hundred and one yards from the school.

I miss towns being in charge of the schools, instead of counties. People used to know their school board members, and could actually speak to them if they had a problem. Principals were concerned about their teachers and their kids, not working a huge system for money so they can keep their jobs.

I miss recess with real balls and hoops and games, and swing sets and slides and see-saws, even though I know see-saws are responsible for more facial stitches and head and crotch injuries than bar fights. See saws were cool. Toys were cool too. Now, in our school district, kids can't play ball games, because they exclude "differently-abled" children and could hurt someone.

There was bullying, but not as much. Kids who got picked on were instructed to "hit back" by their fathers, and often their teachers! They could defend themselves without worrying about going to jail.

I miss teachers being able to knick knack paddywhack a nasty kid. When the kid got home he'd get knick knacked all over again by his parents, because the teacher would be certain to call, if not visit the child's parents that same day. Now a teacher can't even do a magic trick without being fired, so discipline, even righteous discipline can cost a teacher his job. The climate of fear is elevated so high, that no one is free of it. Kids, teacher, administration all function with an unhealtly level of near-paranoia.

I miss old school text books. When text books were made of text, and kids could read them at home to back up what the teacher talked about it class. These days textbooks are printed in two languages and filled with plethora of color-filled graphics (and yes, that is plethora used the correct way, which is an obscene overabundance) that only serves to confuse young eyes and minds. Kids have to hunt for the actual text amidst pie charts, and graphs, and cartoons and photos and other largely unnecessary graphic art.

Of course, I didn't have all of these old school things. I was educated with "new math," which means I still count on my fingers, and whole language. Luckily my mother taught me to read with phonics before I started school, or else I might have been another whole language casualty. And luckily, my parents were educated old school- style. The trickle down of their education made it to me, and to some extent, my own children, who are growing up just fine despite their spotty school education. I knew not to misbehave in school. I knew if my teacher wouldn't be able to come down on me, my parents sure would. As far as they were concerned, I was lucky enough to not get knick-knacked twice, like they would have been. As it stood, the fear was enough and I never got knick-knacked due to a school related event.
I was a good kid, and guess what? So was everyone else, because my classmates would all have gotten knick-knacked too. The time we spent in class was used for learning because everyone behaved.
I miss old school school.