According to this article, “NewSouth Books in Alabama is to publish a combined volume of the books in February that will make the alteration.”
According to their blog post
“In a bold move compassionately advocated by Twain scholar Dr. Alan Gribben and embraced by NewSouth, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn also replaces two hurtful epithets that appear hundreds of times in the texts with less offensive words, this intended to counter the “preemptive censorship” that Dr. Gribben observes has caused these important works of literature to fall off curriculum lists nationwide.”
“Bold move”??? Hogwash. Censorship by any other name remains the same. While I understand the desire to "not offend", Twain’s writings are more than just works of literary genius, they are a representation of a period in time. During his time, this was how the people spoke and wrote. We should not try to hide this, we should educate people so that it never happens again! To change his work is to attempt to change history. Stalin was a master of this practice. I don’t suggest anyone follow him as a role model…
On September 4, 2009, a friend of mine, Dan (@culbertwit) on twitter, tweeted the following message:
Shocked to learn kids still learn cursive writing in elementary school.
Taking up the challenge, I responded with my Twitter account chris_london:
Curious why this shocked you?
To which he responded:
Who on earth wants to write or read cursive writing anymore? It’s like teaching kids how to burn a witch
This last one started making me feel very dirty, since I personally use cursive writing every day of my life, and often with a fountain pen, which must be REALLY evil! 😉
Another friend, Lisa (@kawfolks), chimed in and added:
Probably because practically nobody uses it anymore…
Lisa had a valid point. I had to think about this, and so my responses were open and honest. I hardly use lots of things I learned in school, yet they are still possibly valuable. I agreed that just because I use cursive writing every day, that does not provide a legitimate excuse for perpetuating it in schools.
@culbertwit added the following to the debate:
It’s not just that it isn’t useful. It’s that it’s actually a thing of evil. Cursive writing is from the devil!
And that’s when I decided to create the poll, entitled “Should cursive writing still be taught in schools?”
I used a basic convenience sample that included anyone who was a Twitter follower (and potentially their followers if the post was re-Tweeted) and anyone who bothers to be my Facebook friend and hasn’t hidden my posts yet. In honour of Dan’s message about witch burning, I added the third scapegoat question about only teaching cursive writing to witches… 😉
@culbertwit responded with a complaint:
Your poll question is loaded. It never should have been taught at all. Moral people print.
Of course, I had to respond to that challenge…
I can’t argue morals/religions/mythos it may be good or evil in, I suspect cursive writing the least of my reasons for going to hell! 😉
This poll was created purely out of curiosity, but I added minimal security in the form of IP address limitations – each IP address could only vote once. Those who voted from home and work – Shame on you! ;-).
In any case, the results of the poll are quite clear, the majority still believe cursive writing should be taught in schools. The following depicts the final results:
Question: Should cursive writing still be taught in schools?
51 votes cast
80% (41/51) YES
10% (5/51) NO
10 % (5/51) Only to Witches
I must now openly admit I voted for the witches, and I believe @culbertwit and a friend named John did as well, so that means most of the votes really did boil down to either a YES or NO response.
As a nice little add-on to the poll and a bonus for those who bothered to read this far into the blog post, my friend Sue (@nbccsue) tweeted this interesting BBC article entitled “The Slow Death of Handwriting” that seemed very timely and relevant to this discussion as well, so I added the link.
In the end, the poll was far from scientific but fun! I suspect even without the push from the militant Fountain Pen movement (orchestrated by my friend Sam (@Pendemonium) and her ‘VOTE YES’ campaign ;-), I suspect the results are indicative of general public opinion on the matter, at least at this point in time.
The discussion really needs to be around whether or not public opinion should be the yardstick that we use for determining school curriculum.