Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Push Back on Esperanto in D.C. Schools

In July 1908, Mrs. Wilbur Crafts asked the Washington D.C. school system to consider teaching Esperanto. The response she received from the Superintendent of Schools really promised nothing other than that it might get on the agenda for discussion. The National Tribune questioned the wisdom of this.

In their July 23, 1908 edition, they did so in a manner that is timeless.
A Mrs. Wilbur Crafts, who, with her husband, has acquired more kinds of knowledge which won’t do anybody any good than most anybody else living, is now trying to induce the School Board of Washington to introduce “Esperanto” into the schools of the city. Now, what for? If the kids in the Washington schools could be taught a little more mathematics, spelling, geography, grammar and common sense no one would kick. But to add to the lack of common education in the commonest studies Esperanto would be to increase a vacuum. The pupils of Washington schools are turned out notoriously bad spellers. The things they know about the history of the United States would go on a sheet of notepaper. They do not know how to hunt for knowledge in a cyclopedia, and they have small use for a dictionary. Yet Esperanto would be added to the course! Shucks!
Timeless because it just keeps getting repeated. I saw a variety of this rant on Facebook just a few days ago. The sort of thing that gets posted by people in their 40s and 50s, complaining that teens of today lack the studiousness that people in the poster’s era had. Of course, when they were teens, people said the same thing.

When was this golden age of learning from which we have fallen?

Update: I've belatedly fixed a transcription error, and one that has a name. It's called an "eyeskip." When I transcribed the National Tribune's article, I jumped from one "anybody" (after "won't do") to the next next (before "else living"). My apologies for the transcription error. I try to keep these as error-free as possible, but typos do creep in.
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