Oh, what’s so bad if kids can’t read cursive anymore? Losing the history in your own families | Street Jazz

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oh, what’s so bad if kids can’t read cursive anymore? Losing the history in your own families

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 11:55 AM

While we are still debating whether to teach - at any grade level - the skill (and art) of cursive handwriting, the state of Indiana no longer requires their public schools to teach such an archaic skill. Instead, students will become proficient in the use of the ever-dreaded/popular keyboard.

Oh, local schools can still teach it if they want to, but I’m sure that in the years to come, we’ll have to see how many schools actually do that.

This push to shove cursive to the background until it dies on the vine is the brainchild of intellectual technocrats, who destroy everything they touch.

Arkansas schools, like many across the country, are still debating the subject. I have been reading many articles over the past few days, with many reader comments strewn like wildfire across the bottom of the various websites.

Many of the ones who say that we should still teach cursive belong to the “What would the Founding Fathers think?” school of thought, imagining a world in which young people look upon the Declaration of Independence or other historical documents and need a translator.

Oh, screw the Declaration of Independence.

And I write that as a man who reveres the document and the very-human-men, with all of their human faults and foibles who came together to create this magnificent document.

But I have copies of the Declaration all over the place.

But there is another history that we are in danger of losing contact with, one much closer to each and every one of us.

Our own families.

All too soon we may have raised a generation which looks upon the love letters written by their parents and grandparents as one might look upon the Dead Sea Scrolls. Letters written in wartime, in peace, celebrating births, the telling of daily lives, or telling of the anguish of a death will all sit in unopened boxes because the people in the present will be unable to emotionally connect in any real way with those who came before them.

We will have pictures galore. We can go to Ancestry.com.

We can hold the letters in our hands, but they will tell us no more than a picture or a trinket or a vase or an old baby blanket. The eloquence of their lives will be lost to us, thanks to the “innovations” of bean-counters and technocrats.

******

My Ray Bradbury fantasy

I have always loved the end of Fahrenheit 451, when Montag is brought to the colony of folks who preserve the art of reading books, even it only means they have to memorize them and tell them to others.

Perhaps we’ll have rogue cults of “Cursives,” those whose handwriting is better than their use of a keyboard, and so will help keep our culture alive.

*****

Five Seconds to Air - Broadcast Journalism Behind the Scenes

Bob Losure's story of his time spent in broadcast journalism - both radio and television - opens with an exciting sequence during the beginning of 1991’s Persian Gulf War. Cable News Network (CNN) had worked diligently for some months, using its not inconsiderable clout, to convince Saddam Hussein to allow the installation of a four-wire telephone system in Baghdad’s Al-Rashid Hotel. Because of that effort, CNN was able to broadcast from “behind enemy lines,” and report on what was happening in Iraq when the American air strikes began.

In Five Seconds to Air - Broadcast Journalism Behind the Scenes, he tells the fascinating story behind all of that.

CNN was able to leave all other networks in the dust, and claim a place in broadcast history, as three CNN correspondents, in a city subjected to the power of the greatest air power in the world, told the world what they saw and heard.

Back home in Atlanta, Headline News (CNN’s sister network) producers and writers broke a long-standing rule and didn’t bother to send their messages across the large newsroom by computer - they literally shouted facts and updates across the room.

Across the globe, eyes were glued to CNN and Headline News for their information. To a large degree, it has been true ever since.

Anyone wishing to learn about the early days of the world’s first truly global news network will find Losure’s book fascinating. But it isn’t just a history of the public glories and off-camera dramas which propel this book. Rather, it is the story of a hard working, ambitious young man determined to make his mark on the world.

The account follows Losure from his early days at a country western music station, to radio traffic reporting to Tulsa’s KOTV, and finally, Headline News.

Losure recounts tales both tragic and comical, and there is nary a sign of any “aren’t I wonderful” blather so often encountered in other works by journalists.

In addition to his professional life, we become acquainted with his wives and friends over the years. Possibly the most affecting chapter has little to do with the news business, but his battle with testicular cancer in the mid 1980s.

He leads the reader though his various surgeries, and chemotherapy regimen, until his victory over the cancer.

t was while he was recuperating that he made the decision to leave Tulsa and head for another arena. Watching television, he couldn’t help but notice that his on-air replacements were doing good work at the station. Sources at the sation told him that they had signed contracts and wouldn’t be moved out of anchoring positions anytime soon.

Accordingly, Losure contacted his agent, who began a job search. CNN Headline News had an opening - would he be interested?

The rest, as they say, is history. Five Seconds to Air tells the story of what it was like, creating a network from the ground up. The book relates the days when Ted Turner, CNN’s owner who lived in the on the premises for a time, wandered the building in the mid-morning hours in his bathrobe.

Losure also gives his views on the state of modern television journalism, with its over-reliance on focus groups and consulting firms. Losure left Headline News in 1997, and now makes his living doing corporate videos and taking on speaking engagements.

He has some criticisms to make of the current direction CNN has found itself in, and his views can make us take just a little closer look at the news business.

****

Quote of the Day

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. —Winston Churchill

rsdrake@cox.net

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