Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The right’s fear of education

with 8 comments

A very interesting Salon article on how a conservative ex-military guy gradually became a liberal as he became more educated—doubtless an indication of why the GOP hates education. But the details of his transition are worth reading.

The whole article reminded me of this comment to an earlier blog post on italic handwriting. Italic handwriting is occasionally taught in schools as the standard cursive handwriting (italic is also known as “chancery cursive”), and Kate Gladstone commented on one view of education. From the comment:

In my experience and observation, when a school discontinues italic after a thoroughgoing adoption, this happens because the originally trained cohort of teachers has neglected to train successors, and/or because the school administrators have stopped requiring new teachers to learn and use the school’s handwriting program as a condition of their employment. In at least some cases, teachers’ or administrators’ softening in this regard has been traced to parents who had felt embarrassed that their own handwriting looked bad next to that of their children.

One irate mother said to me, after hiring me to work with her son on handwriting:

The problem with italic is precisely that it looks so legible, so confident and competent, If you put my eight-year-old’s handwriting nowadays next to mine, anyone looking at both of our writings would imagine that he is the adult and that I am the child. It is disrespectful to parents, teachers, and other adults to turn out children who write better than most adults, and who know it. It is wrong to have put me in a situation where my son may be tempted to ‘look down’ in any way on my handwriting. The fact that his handwriting is, objectively, actually better than mine cannot be a justification for this to have been allowed. The adults in a family or community — NOT the children — need to be the ones who can be ‘looked up to’ in every way: handwriting included. It is particularly obnoxious that his handwriting is not only better than real [sic] handwriting, it is better at faster speeds. This makes it impossible for him to go along with the important cultural truth that, in our culture, cursive is agreed to be the fastest handwriting. Whether italic is good or bad, italic is bad because it is against the culturally accepted truth and it changes that truth.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2015 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Education

8 Responses

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  1. Thank you for mentioning me, and for raising a dire issue which pervades far more than handwriting! NOTE: Despite the headline of your blog-entry, honesty demands I point out that today’s regrettably pernicious and widespread “fear of education” — in handwriting or elsewhere — is unfortunately NOT limited to the holders of any one set of political premises.
    Opponents OR proponents of education in handwriting (or in other subjects) can and do, in my observation, belong to any imaginable political party: even if they support such things as bills to mandate cursive handwriting, which indeed have so far been introduced exclusively by Republicans even though some of the people voting for them are Democrats.
    I am a Republican myself — though seldom a straight-ticket voter — and would find it difficult to square my advocacy of better education (in handwriting or in any subject) with a fear of education. (In fact, I’d find it as difficult to fear education as some of my fellow Republicans find it to believe that anyone who recognizes the shortcomings of conventional cursive handwriting can be a Republican.)



    26 February 2015 at 7:51 pm

  2. Reblogged this on Brian By Experience.


    Brian Dead Rift Webb

    27 February 2015 at 12:54 am

  3. I am a Republican who believes that better education will be the savior of this great country.

    About the Gladstone quotes: I developed my italic handwriting program within a highly academic, elementary school. That was forty years ago. The school still uses my italic based Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting. There have been a few parents who criticized my program, just as they criticized other things about the school. A strong school takes the complaints stride, resolving them as they come along. A school that would change a program because of an “embarrassed” parent is probably among those of low achievement.

    As to the irate mother, she was in that thankfully minority group of dingbats.


    Nan Jay Barchowsky

    27 February 2015 at 3:28 am

  4. To me, the irate mother seemed an extreme example of a parent who competes with her (or his) children, which I imagine is caused by profound feelings of insecurity. It’s pretty awful to see, though sometimes the children can form helpful bonds with other adults—their grandparents, for example, or a teacher—and get the validation and support and growing child requires.

    It’s certainly true that not all Republicans oppose education, but in looking at the activities of prominent Republicans (say, Scott Walker), it is clear that there’s a strong strain of anti-education, anti-science (James Inhofe, for example), and anti-intellectualism in the party. Take a look at the Texas GOP efforts to “adjust” school textbooks. Just recently we’ve seen examples of Republican educations who believe that cancer is a fungus and can be cured with bicarbonate of soda, and who believe that the vagina and uterus are somehow connected to the digestive tract. A modicum of education would prevent such notions, I think.



    27 February 2015 at 7:33 am

  5. LeisureGuy

    27 February 2015 at 2:51 pm

  6. Please know that when I say better education, I believe in broad exposure to all ideas and ideals. The goal should be to develop thinkers, never followers. You may be relieved to know that I am not an Evangelistic Christian, nor a Tea Partyer.


    Nan Jay Barchowsky

    27 February 2015 at 3:11 pm

  7. That’s good news, but those factions have considerable sway in the GOP today—it’s not the party of Dwight Eisenhower. Cf. today’s House vote not to fund DHS. Government shutdown is popular in that faction.



    27 February 2015 at 3:16 pm

  8. My answer to that angry mother was this: since she wanted her son to respect and admire the handwriting of his parents, and since she’d admitted that the state of her own handwriting (at least) made this impossible for him, would she be willing to make her own handwriting _in_fact_ respectable and admirable? Fir some reason, she found the very idea outrageous — apparently, her son was to dispense respect and admiration without cause.



    27 February 2015 at 7:10 pm

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