Reading, Writing, and Ridiculous?
The Tuesday after Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of the school year. Today, children across America streamed into classrooms where they will begin yet another 10 month odyssey of learning. For some children, this odyssey will include two areas of curriculum that are so increasingly useless, so uninteresting to teach or learn, and so time-consuming that their continued presence is borderline criminal. I’m speaking, of course, about telling time on analog clocks and cursive writing.
Ask yourselves: how useful are these skills really? Do you anticipate them being more or less useful over the next 10 years? 20 years? 50 years?
“But Kazzy!” you might be thinking. “We’ve all learned those skills! What harm is there in teaching them?”
Well, as they say, therein lies the rub.
Did you know that time is often taught to children as young as Kindergarten? It is.
Did you know that cursive writing is taught to children as young as the 2nd grade? It is.
Did you know that some schools spend up to 1/6th of their math instructional time in a given grade teaching time? They do.
Did you know that some schools spend up to 1/10th of their classroom instructional time in a given grade teaching cursive writing? They do.
To me, this is mind boggling. Even though I feel much of the hand wringing over the state of our education system is misplaced, there is always room to improve. And think how much we could if we had all that time at those highly important ages to spend on useful, productive learning instead of the mastery of increasingly antiquated skills? Telling time and cursive writing are not entirely worthless, but the amount of time and energy dedicated to them (with the latter being compounded by the increasingly young ages these skills are taught at) cannot be justified, as far as I see it. And while some might argue that there are other skills and concepts that children learn while studying these topics (e.g., fractions and “skip counting” with time), these can be taught either directly or integrated into far more relevant studies and need not be taught only through these two areas.
But that’s my take. I’m a 29-year-old who gets to see how the sausage is made inside American educational institutions. Do you all think these skills are necessary? Why or why not? Do you think there are other topics that deserve similar disdain? DISCUSS!