Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Poet

Last week, he was my philosopher, but this week he is my poet.

The boys and I have a fantastic cursive program that we work on together each day . . . gasp!  She teaches her boys cursive, that ancient and outdated form of writing that our school system has deemed useless?  Yes, that would be the one.  I really shouldn't take a jab at the school system because, in all honesty, I was there.  When I was teaching at Touchstone, the debate on cursive came up, and although I did teach it, I did doubt its benefits, and not because of any grand pedagogical reasoning, but simply on the basis that I felt I was already trying to squeeze too much in, and I fear that this is the reasoning behind our school board's decision too. They are trying to do too much with too little resources and too little time.
Now that I only have the needs of two pupils to look after, however, I feel very strongly that cursive needs to be taught.  For one, how are my boys if they ever grow up to become writers or English professors, be able to read the original manuscripts of the great authors?  If they become historians or archaeologists, how are they ever going to read ancient letters or documents?  When I am long gone, how are they going to read all my journal entries and be able to pass on my story to their grandchildren? Dismissing cursive is so near-sighted.  Yes, it may not be the way of the future, but it was the predominant communication method of the past, and what are we if can not access our past?  
The second and more practical reason I teach cursive is that it is easier for children to do than print and it eliminates reversals made with "b" and "d", which both of my boys are notorious for doing. From an OT perspective (occupational therapist) cursive is physically easier on your hands as well.  So, there you have it: Shenanigans Inc. comes out and takes a stand on the grand cursive debate.  We vote "Yea!"

Anyhoo . . .

So, the program we use is Handwriting Without Tears, and for Elliot's age, his cursive practise is centred upon grammar instruction and creative writing assignments.  I love this because we also have a grammar program  . . . gasp!  Another one of my pet peeves about the school system, but I will save that lengthy treatise for another day.  In short, Elliot gets a quick grammar review each day with his cursive lesson, and I think that is awesome!  This week, one of his cursive lessons discussed poetry and challenged him to write a haiku.  A haiku is an ancient Japanese form of poetry that is comprised of seventeen syllables, follows the pattern of 5, 7, 5, and does not rhyme. You can only imagine the initial distress this brought to Elliot and to me, his poor mama; however, after a bit of thinking time on the floor, he came up with an idea!  He poo-pooed on my suggestions of a winter day, swimming in the pool, or a day at the beach, and chose something he is more familiar with:  Halo  . . . gasp!  Yes, I am one of those terrible mamas who allows her boys to play violent video games.  Trust me, I held out for as long as I could, but they are relentless and I am weak. So embarrassing!

I was shocked at how well he did.  True, his format is more of a 4, 7, 5, which comes out at only 16 syllables, but Elliot found the form too restrictive, and rather than risk sacrificing the artistic integrity of his poem by randomly inserting another syllable, he took a stand and refused. Can you say temperamental artist?

Once again, without further adieu, I present Elliot's poem:


Grunts get blown up,
Grenades go off at their feet.
Then they come after me.

Yep, this boy is proving to be more Skov-Nielsen everyday.

Happy Tuesday!


  1. I hear you on the great debate about what to teach and feeling like there's so much to do and so little time. I taught special education, so cursive was really low on the priority list for me. The students needed so many other things first. From my experience, though, students LOVE learning cursive! Also, yes, thanks for holding off on slamming the school system. Having been there, too, it's all very complicated.

    1. It is complicated, and they are doing the best they can.:)

  2. I wish I had your writing talents and abilities. I know Madlyn is a writer at heart, and I worry all the time that she won't reach her potential because of the school system, and writing is definitely not one of my talents so I can't help her out. I'm am so glad you making a stand, and also passing on your knowledge through your writing workshops. Keep it up Krista!