Thanks so much for visiting me here on my newly revised website. Along with an altogether new look, the changes allow me to more readily offer you timely, informative articles, websites to visit, and even quotes to use in your teaching. There’s also, of course, my free, monthly The School-Wise Newsletter, keeping readers up-to-date on all that’s happening in education.

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The Case for Putting Handwriting Back in the Curriculum

27/07/2016   |   No Comments »

Back in 2014, journalist M. English penned an article for 21st Century Media that led with the line, “When John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence, he couldn’t have known he’d become a penmanship icon,” and adding that January 23 is National Handwriting Day.

And that should matter to all of us even in this keyboard-happy culture and despite the fact that it’s July not January and school won’t be in session for several more weeks.  As the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association reminds us, “The lost art of handwriting is one of the few ways we can uniquely express ourselves… Fonts lack a personal touch. Handwriting can add intimacy to a letter and reveal details about the writer’s personality. Throughout history, handwritten documents have sparked love affairs, started wars, established peace, freed slaves, created monuments, and declared independence.”

These folks are talking about cursive writing although printing counts, too, and both have been on the chopping block of late in large measure because of the Common Core English/Language Arts Standards.

Introduced back in 2008, Obama’s then U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan dangled the promise of divvying up $4.35 billion in Race to the Top federal grants to applying states that agreed to adopt them by adding 40/500 points to their applications.

Needless to say, it took; 45 states and D.C. ultimately adopted the Common Core State Standards  which promote keyboarding skills with nary a mention of handwriting.

The upshot: Many districts took handwriting instruction off the books, despite the well-documented evidence that a direct link between cursive and the brain exists. As Sarah Sweeney-Denham, head of Plymouth Meeting Friends School in Pennsylvania, explains, “… Research indicates that cursive writing surpasses keyboarding when it comes to making practitioners better communicators, Read the rest of this entry »

Quotes from Sebastian Junger

13/07/2016   |   1 Comment

In a piece in Time Magazine‘s June 27, 2016 issue, Sebastian Junger, author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, is asked several questions by Karl Vick. One such question was, “So it’s not just service members who feel isolated,” to which the author responds: “The assumption is that our wonderful society is good for our mental health. And the fact that it’s not is shocking and also a relief to find out. I mean, why would suicide rates go up with wealth? Why would depression go up with modernity? It’s counter-intuitive, but once you think about it, once you think about our evolution as a species, it makes sense.”

The followup question, “Like Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents?” got this response: “Western society has this narrative that we’re moving steadily toward a kind of societal perfection. And in some ways we are. The improvements are amazing. But there’s this massive unseen cost, which is our sense of connectedness to the group, and that connectedness to the group has been at the core of our definition of what it means to be human for 200,000 years. For the first time in history, it’s being challenged, it’s being eroded…”

In this screen-happy, living vicariously and over-sharing just to reach out and get someone’s attention culture–even “friends” one has never met, thank you, Facebook–do you really disagree with him? Seems to me, that, nowadays and in many cases, connectedness translates to collecting LIKES at any cost from strangers and friends/family alike, and that’s as unconnected as it gets.

Better yet: Pick up the phone and talk, meet for lunch; have folks in for drinks or dinner–all so much better than posting and responding online, alone with a screen.