PHASE ONE

Week 4: Pitch

Is it possible that we have become so enamoured by all of the new and emerging technologies that surround us and seemingly make our lives so much easier, that we completely disregard all the negative effects that they have on us? Well, researchers Susan Busatto and Ruth French certainly think so, as they argue that our societies gradual fading ability to read and write in cursive is paradigmatic of our increasing reliance on technology.

 In their article aptly titled "Are times tables and cursive writing relics of a pre-digital age?" Both Busatto and French argue that due to the emergence of technology and our growing dependence on it, we as a society have begun to lose touch of some our most fundamental skills- skills that were taught to us from a young age, particularly those of cursive handwriting and math times tables.

 For Busatto and French, the growing concern is that children who have grown up in the post-technological era lack the fundamental skills and benefits that come from learning and experiencing both cursive writing techniques and multiplication math tables. As French states, “For children who are learning to write, if they were simply to use a keyboard, all that’s required is just perceiving the shape of a letter and touching it...Meanwhile, when you learn to hand write it, you’re co-ordinating a whole lot of motor and sensory activity, so you’re thinking about how to shape that letter in a way that involves more cognitive processing than just visual perception.”

 Recently, there has been a lot of effort put into researching this particular topic, and as a result, strong evidence has been found that substantiates the neurological benefits associated with learning cursive writing (see, David Sortino, 2013 and Stephen W. Porges, 2015). This newly found evidence corroborates the recent decision made by state legislators in Ohio to pass a bill mandating cursive writing into the curriculum for the upcoming year.

 For these politicians and researchers alike, their argument is clear- the benefits associated with learning cursive writing offer crucially important development for the brain of a student that otherwise is not obtainable through the use of modern technological forms of communication (Anne Mangen & Jean-Luc Velay, 2010).

 However, could it be the case that we are now living in an age where this type of skills has become unnecessary/ irrelevant? For education academics and district school officials tasked with having to implement aforementioned into the curriculum as well as teach it, they argue that it is no longer relevant nor is it beneficial to take time out of different lectures in order to teach these outdated methods (Matt Materson, 2018). Furthermore, there is also a concern regarding the jurisdictional discretion of this decision. Teachers and local communities suggest that this decision should have been rendered by local officials who are more familiar with the needs and circumstances of the students.  

 In my opinion, the benefits associated with learning techniques like cursive writing are clear. Given that I personally was fortunate enough to be taught cursive writing, I can vouch for its merits. However, I also think that it would be naïve to not address the obvious topic of technological advancement and its advantages. Thus, although I strongly believe that Busatto and French provide an enticing argument for mandating cursive writing into the elementary school curriculum. I still think that there is more to be asked about the future of learning and the role of technology.

  I look forward to addressing this topic further.

Week 3: Opinion Piece Summary

The opinion piece that I have selected is written by Matt Matterson, a columnist for WTTW Chicago who reports on the impending decision to mandate cursive writing into the Chicago elementary school curriculum in time for the upcoming school year.

In this report, Matt is highlighting the main arguments being made by both sides of this issue. On one hand, the lawmakers and researchers who drafted and initiated the implementation of this law late last year suggest that teaching cursive writing improves a child's cognitive function and linguistic skills. Meanwhile, the teachers and district officials who will now be tasked with teaching this new subject argue that this type of decision should not have been made by legislators who are unaware or less inclined to know the difficulties of time constraints that teachers have to deal with, rather it should have been a decision made by local professionals.

For me, this topic is a great choice for a podcast because it not talks about something that is very relatable to most of us who have grown up learning in the North American curriculum but, also because it hits on very real concerns regarding legal jurisdiction. The author Matt does a very well job addressing the aforementioned issues by drawing professionals who are knowledgeable in the fields afflicted by this decision in order to further his point.

Ultimately that point that Matt is trying to get across is the question of whether or not implementing cursive writing is actually a beneficial move? I intended to unpack this question as there is much more to it than meets the eye.

Week 2: Being Critical

This weeks lecture taught us the importance of being critical of the "knowledge" that we are exposed to. It is often the case that as we as individuals perceive the information that surrounds us or that is told to us to be true. Now, although there may be many reasons as to why humans tend to do this like, for example, the legitimacy of the source of the information or our biological sense to conform, however, it may be the primary issue with this is that it prevents us from critically questioning the validity of the knowledge. As professor alluded to in class, knowledge isn't always factual, in fact, it may be simply a matter of some one's opinions. What's concerning than is that the "knowledge" being produced is cultivated from a subjective truth rather than objective truth. It is in these instances than that lead to incorrect or biased information becoming proliferated into society simply due to a lack of critical critique. Therefore, it is as students our job and our goal to learn and to become more aware of the different types of information and knowledge that are out there and be more critical of them.

Week 1: Introductions

Hello everyone,

So, a quick introduction, my name is Juan Sarmiento and I am a fourth year Law and Society student here at York University. I'm 23 years old, and I am proudly a Colombian Canadian. With all that cliche introductory stuff now out of the way I can now delve into what I would say best describes who I am. Without a doubt the first thing that comes to my mind is sports, I LOVE sports. I've played most types of sports and I'd say that I'm half decent enough player in most of them, but certainly not great. However, what I really wanted to tell you is how my love of sports came to be. It all began when I first saw the Toronto Maple Leafs play. I remember being fascinated by the way the players moved on the ice, the massive hits that were being thrown around, the way the goalies played despite wearing all that gear, all that coupled with the fact that the Leafs jerseys are blue, which happens to be my favourite colour, instantly got me hooked on the sport. I remember after watching that first game I began to really follow hockey more diligently, unfortunately for me as a Leafs fan, up until recently it was more painful than fun to watch our team play. Looking back at it now though maybe it was a blessing that I had to suffer all those years of futility because if it wasn't for that maybe I wouldn't have begun watching and following all the other sports teams and leagues that I do now. Anyways, from all that I'd also add that it is a dream of mine to possibly in the future use my knowledge and passion for sports and make a career out of it. I don't exactly know how or in what field per se but all I know is that who wouldn't want to work doing something that they love am I right?

Moving on, in regards to this course and my thoughts on it. After leaving the first lectures and subsequent tutorial, my first impressions were that of intrigue and excitement. I think that it will be very entertaining to learn a new and different way of expressing our dialogue through the creation and design of our own podcasts. Personally, I've never attempted to create my own podcast, however, I do listen to many different genres of podcasts on Spotify, so I am a little familiar with the basics of them. I am specifically intrigued to learn the editing process of the podcasts, especially because I believe that learning how to edit digital content is an important tool to have in our current technological age. Also, the Professor, the students and the TA's all seem to be very enthusiastic and excited to be part of this course, which is a very pleasing sight to see. trust me when I say that it's a lot easier to get excited and motivated for class when you see that the professor is excited to be teaching their content.

Lastly, when it comes to research tactics I honestly think that every student has their own way of going about researching that best suits them. In my four years here I've been taught, read and heard of many different ways of researchign that all offered great insight into different methods and approaches into how to properly research. The problem that I see is that students often either stick to one method or try to apply too many methods, either way, more often than not the student gets frustrated if it doesn't pan out. For me, my advice to the first and second years students would be to find what's best for you. Seriously I know its cliche but its true, if you try to too hard to emulate the methods of someone else and you consistently find that you aren't getting the results you want then you need to try something different. Quite oppositely, if try to use too many than you'll work might become dysfunctional. Either way, you as a student have to learn what is best for you, for me it was taking little bits from each of the concepts that I learned and added them to my repertoire, which I like to call "research attack". Oh, and don't think that simply searching on Google or Wikipedia is a bad habit, trust me every student young or old does the same thing, the point is to not stop there rather progress from that information and find more and more.