Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Recently my grandson celebrated his twelfth birthday.  Mary and I picked out an appropriate card and as usual each penned a short note to celebrate the occasion.  We were surprised when he opened the card and said to our son, “I can’t read this.”

It turns out that in his school they no longer teach cursive.

My son isn’t concerned commenting, “My penmanship was always a little suspect anyway.” Others I have shared this story with also point out that the exercise of writing will be phased out as voice recognition improves.  My wife’s concern as to how they will sign anything prompts a response that few signatures are recognizable anyway.  No one seems overly concerned that the only weak point in my grandson’s development is small motor acuity (which is developed in learning handwriting).

And it may be more isolated than I think.  Another friend, with a similar-aged child in the same general school system says his son’s school still teaches “handwriting”.

I was reminded of several other periods in my life when major changes in education were predicted to have cataclysmic negative effects.

About 25 years ago there was a major change in secondary education: specifically, Fine Arts practically disappeared from the curricula.  Mary graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and is one of the best-rounded persons I know.  I expected that we would never see books or film that reference the classics, and yet the Coen brothers, not known for their high-minded intellectualism, came out with O Brother Where Art Thou?  Screen credits for story went to Homer.

As the years have gone by, there are many other examples that show the curiosity of the creative mind that have kept the classics alive and an inspiration to current and future generations.

Well before fine arts became unnecessary, I was concerned when Latin was no longer taught in schools.  Mary and I both had at least two years of Latin.  One thought at the time was that Latin provided a foundation for understanding the English language.  I helped in spelling too.  As a matter of fact, I have a better-than-average vocabulary and, while in high school, went to the Regional finals in Spelling competition.

But my older son was in a vocabulary class in high school, taught by a teacher who changed her name and still writes as Elizabeth George.  His vocabulary probably exceeds mine.  As time has passed I find it increasingly difficult to work the phrase “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres” into any normal conversation.  Maybe Latin wasn’t as important as I thought it was.

Does anyone here read Script?
I was somewhat concerned when I saw a cartoon in the New Yorker that depicted a group of our Founding Fathers, wigs, quill pens and all, gathered at a table where one of them turns and asks rhetorically, “Does anyone here read Script?”  What if my grandson can’t read the Declaration of Independence?  Luckily, I found a copy of it and the Constitution, perhaps sent to me by Khizr Kahn.  This is printed in block letters.  Whew!

In my next post I will share some recent and not so recent facts I have found on Norman Rockwell.  I think you will find it interesting.    

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