I’ve gotten into the habit of perusing Facebook, Yahoo News and such places for writing inspiration each morning. A very well written post from Sarah R. Callender’s blog, Inside-Out Underpants, caught my attention. Myth talks about when to discuss The Birds and The Bees with your child, and points at the prevalence of “soft” pornographic images, namely breasts and bras, in popular media. I have an almost nine-year-old son; good points. “Points” I’ve covered his eyes or attempted to distract him from on more than one occasion. And, another one of Callender’s excellent examples, we’re crazy if we think they didn’t catch the references to Weiner’s wiener all over the news. It’s only one of an elementary aged boy’s top five favorite words.
Callender provides a link to the perfect example, a Victoria’s Secret commercial. Even as I wonder where our probably very dusty copy of Where Did I Come From could be (Callender offers other worthy options, too), and beat myself up for the missed opportunities to speak to my son about such things, I’m distracted by the grammatical error in the first five seconds of the advertisement. I watch it again to make sure.
Indeed, There’s 5 Ways, is quickly blazoned across the screen, while the caption below the video uses the proper grammar, “…there are 5 ways….” Did Victoria’s ad agency really choose visual balance over proper grammar? Did they merely shrug and accept the fact that it’s oh so wrong, or assume that their targeted demographic (frighteningly teens and twenty-somethings) wouldn’t catch it? Have we grown so accustomed to the improper use of grammar in texting, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of short-hand communication, that we’re growing tolerant of such representations, and the fact that it’s insidiously infecting popular media?
Nope, spell check didn’t catch “texting” either, when “sending a text” is probably more proper.
I’m not going to pretend to know the exact grammar rules that once determined what is correct. I don’t have a degree in journalism, communications or language arts or any degree at all, for that matter. But my public school education prepared me well to communicate effectively into adulthood, from the time I was in early elementary school. We learned cursive. We wrote and we wrote some more, and the more writing we did, the better we learned grammar and punctuation, and the better our fine motor skills became.
Here’s a shocker: Cursive is no longer required curricula in many elementary schools. Ahem. If kids aren’t taught cursive, how will they learn to read cursive when Grandma sends them a card or writes them a check? A simple Yahoo! search of “cursive no longer in curriculum,” revealed states like Indiana, Illinois and Hawaii are no longer teaching cursive. And worse, on a national scale, this article in the Herald Review warns that at least 44 other states have adapted to such standards in response to the national standardized exam that is expected in 2014. The article compares the future of cursive script to ancient hieroglyphics, which only a handful of archeologists can decipher. When is the last time you met an archaeologist? When is the last time you met a person who writes in cursive?
Huh. I tried curricula and curriculum in the first sentence of the last paragraph and spell check was no help with either. I really must purchase an old fashioned dictionary.
One homeschooling mom I know here in San Diego isn’t teaching her kids keyboarding because, “the direction we’re headed is talk to type.” She claims her kids won’t need it. But if we are headed in that direction, they’d better learn first how to talk properly. And guess what writing helps kids learn—language, speech, how to form ideas and get them across properly, methodically, rhythmically, in a way that is presentable and makes sense. The very basis of everything they must do in school and out, from math to science to reading, to getting into college and later landing a job. And as I’ve demonstrated throughout, spell check isn’t all that reliable, especially where usage and syntax is concerned. And our kids are reading less, also essential in learning and developing language and communication skills, and playing more video games, which aren’t at all useful for much of any purpose other than entertaining your kid on a long car ride. Say, from California to Michigan.
My mind can’t grasp the enormity that the immediate twenty years of technological growth might simply erase the prior five hundred. Morse Code has been in use for more than 160 years, and is still being used by the military. Why? Because it’s reliable, it can be transmitted visually, using mirrors or lights, thereby keeping radio silence when necessary, and because if one day technology fails and survival of the fittest comes back into vogue, Morse Code and long hand may just keep you alive. Yes, I’ve been reading The Hunger Games. And I’m from Michigan; we’re prepared sorts.
And thanks to no child left behind, all this “progress” is government sanctioned. Nay, soon to be government mandated, when IMO our children will be left oh so far behind. By the way, nay is a fancy, old timey word that means no. And IMO didn’t get flagged either. Our kids are screwed.
Don’t even get me started on gym class and school lunches.