Like many people, I am concerned about the direction that the North Carolina General Assembly has been taking of late. I am not, however, surprised because it was clear to me long before the most recent election that the progressive traditions of our state government were likely to come to an end if the party of the governor were to change. That’s why I’m a bit weary of shock and outrage coming from my friends on the left over what was a totally predictable outcome. It seems like that energy may have been better harnessed prior to the election.
I am not sure how polarizing rhetoric helps progressives make the case that the state is headed in the wrong direction. For instance, one big outcry is over the adoption of cursive writing into the mandatory primary school curriculum. The beef seems to be that we live in a digital age and this is some sort of luddite reaction. The problem is actually not with the handwriting, but with the state curriculum.
See, last year the legislature adopted a whole new set of standards. The standards are called the “Common Core.” The point of the common core is to get kids ready to do jobs. From a progressive standpoint, this is disturbing because it views education as a system that can be applied to every student in order to crank out workers rather than an opportunity for each student to explore their world according to their capacity. (Ok, we’ll talk about whether or not I’m a hippie later.) My point is that there is a legitimate discussion to be had about the Common Core which we have not had in North Carolina, nor have we had it as a nation despite the fact that this curriculum has been adopted by 45 states.
Now, one thing that the Common Core does not include is cursive instruction. This is one of those areas in which one could argue that kids don’t need to know cursive in order to use an iPad. That’s fine, but cursive writing has been shown to make connections between different parts of the brain which are not made by writing on a keyboard. Who cares? People who buy iPad apps, because the links between creativity and engineering are made through the process of manual, and especially cursive, writing. Do we want to be using the apps or making the apps?
So please, my progressive brethren and sisteren, let’s get the tin foil out of our hats and take a real look at what the issues are. If you think you are smarter than a North Carolina Legislator, prove it. If you think you have a more rational approach to policy, make it. I understand why you want to scream; I just don’t understand why you think it will do any good.