4.23.15: The Great Cursive Debate, Star Wars In Iambic Pentameter, & Consent And Dementia

Apr 23, 2015

Last month the New Hampshire Senate nearly made cursive a mandatory part of public school curriculum. But does the argument for keeping longhand in the classroom have more to do with nostalgia than it does educational outcomes? On today’s show  we go inside the emotional, and surprisingly partisan debate over cursive.

Plus, today is the day that William Shakespeare was born, and died. We’ll celebrate the life of the Bard by speaking to the author of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – a delightful mash-up of Jedi knights, friendly droids, and iambic pentameter.    

Listen to the full show: 

The Great Cursive Debate

Americans do much of their correspondence these days by email, and most writing, professional and otherwise, is typed on a computer – which are just two reasons that schools are cutting down on cursive instruction in schools around the country.

Ruth Graham is correspondent to the Boston Globe and frequent contributor to the Globe’s Ideas section where we found her article: "Fighting to Save Cursive From the Common Core."

Put your cursive skills to the test! Download and print out our worksheet, then upload a photo of the results to our Facebook page.

And if you want to see the results from the Word of Mouth team, head over to this link: Putting Our Cursive Skills to the Test

William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace

In the galaxy of Ian Doescher’s head, the Star Wars universe is being re-imagined in iambic pentameter. Doescher is the best-selling author of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, The Empire Striketh Back, and The Jedi Doth Return. Now he’s applied his iambic skills to the Star Wars prequels, with the newly released, William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace.

The Voice of Darth Vader Reads a Sonnet

Today is a very auspicious day to be talking about William Shakespeare, who according to scholars, is believed to have been born on April 23rd, in 1564 - and incredibly, died on the same day in 1616 – exactly 399 years ago.  So, to continue celebrating the life of William Shakespeare, we’re going to play you one of his most famous sonnets – sonnet #55, read by none other than the voice of Darth Vader, Mr. James Earl Jones. 

You can listen to this again at PRX.org.

Robotic Seals Comfort Dementia Patients but Raise Ethical Concerns

Researchers have long suggested that interacting with animals can benefit our health, and studies indicate that pet-therapy holds particular benefits for individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia related disorders. For those patients, spending time with a therapy animal has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase appetite, and decrease agitation. A California hospital has recently embraced pet therapy, but raised ethical concerns along the way. Angela Johnston brings us this story.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org.

When Consent Involves A Patient With Dementia

 Pam Belluck is a Pullitzer prize winning health and science writer for The New York Times and she’s  been following the case of 78 year old Henry Rayhons, who was accused of non-consensual sex with his wife in a nursing home. We spoke to Belluck on Monday when the case went to the jury and before the acquittal to get the details on a case that legal experts say may be the first of its kind.  

Read the original article: "Sex, Dementia and a Husband on Trial at Age 78"

And the follow up article: “Iowa Man Found Not Guilty of Sexually Abusing Wife With Alzheimer’s”