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Fundamentals of TwelveByTwelve
Chapter 2: Enriched is Better Than Impoverished
by Luby Prytulak, PhD
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First posted 13 Jun 2013 08:31am PST, last edited 27 Jun 2013 04:58pm PST

A more complete collection of Marko's penmanship practice pages can be found in Marko's Penmanship Notebooks.


The web page titled "Saboteurs of Education Create a Fumblefinger Society" argued that penmanship training is valuable because students will need to print and write rapidly and legibly throughout their lives, and because penmanship lays a foundation for a manual dexterity which finds wide application, and which is requisite for many professional tasks.

If that were all that could be said on behalf of penmanship training, it would be enough to earn it a respected place in every curriculum.  When penmanship training is enriched, however, vastly more can be said on its behalf, and a proportional elevation of penmanship in our estimation necessarily follows.

What is meant by enriched penmanship can be seen by examining a few pages from the penmanship exercise books of Marko, which show enrichment in the second, third, and fourth stages, with near-asymptotic enrichment being attained in Stage 3.

Stage 1:  Mastering the Alphabet

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 1    p. 1
Age 05:00    Grade K:Sep

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee

"Grade K:Sep" designates the first month (Sep for September) of Marko's Kindergarten year (K).

As can be seen on p. 1 of Marko's first exercise book, the uppermost line presents a model that Marko imitates for the rest of the page.  A few of the characters below the top line may also be teacher-written exemplars, often distinguished by being circled, and usually positive to show what should be striven for but sometimes negative to show what should be avoided.

Marko writes two lines on Sep 22, four lines on Sep 23, skips Sep 24 and 25, then writes three lines on Sep 26.  From p. 1 and p. 16 immediately below, the goal seems to be to write approximately two lines daily, and the time required might be estimated to be about five minutes.

The much later dates of the bottom two lines on p. 1 resulted from — one may guess — Marko's returning to p. 1 to write on formerly-abandoned blank space so as to make available for simultaneous comparison how much progress he had made over the intervening seven months, but not succeeding as well as he had hoped because of the awkwardness of writing at the very bottom of a page that is raised well above the surface of the table because held within a thick notebook, and also because the pen sometimes ran right off the bottom of the page, and also by running out of room on the right edge of the page because of having to place the date on the same line as the alphabet.

Stage 2:  Writing Narrative

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 1    p. 16
Age 05:02    Grade K:Nov

Once upon a time

By page 16, almost two months have elapsed, and Marko is writing what he happens to be reading with his family, the fairy tale of Rapunzel which starts like so:

Once upon a time there lived a man and his wife.  They had all that they wanted in the world except for one thing.  For many years, they had longed to have a child whom they could love.  Yet no baby was born to them.  At the back of their house was a window which looked out over a beautiful garden, full of lovely flowers and fine vegetables.

At this early stage in Marko's education, "reading with his family" means largely being read to, but occasionally invited to himself read aloud some small portion, if only a word or two, and progressing gradually toward the final goal of reading a proportional share.

The Rapunzel exercise shows a first step toward enriched penmanship, so called because to the skills being built of penmanship and general manual dexterity have been added spelling and grammar, capitalization and punctuation, storytelling and narrative, and as the story describes people with yearnings and frustrations and plans, it might be said to also build skills of understanding human nature which encompasses the two most valuable skills of all — knowing what other people are thinking and what they are likely to do next.

Stage 3:  Enriched Penmanship

Of course Rapunzel is juvenile literature, and a little bit of juvenile literature may be desirable, and in any case is unavoidable.  However, too much of it, and extending too long, stunts growth, and becomes dull to both adult and child.  Remember that children are hard-wired to be plunged into a complex environment and figure out how it works by themselves.  Accordingly, they should not be denied the enjoyment, and benefit, of adult conversation and adult literature.

In Marko's case, his family stumbled across Pirates of Penzance — the incomparable Kevin Kline-Linda Ronstadt version — and which Marko began using for penmanship practice at Age 05:07, Grade K:Apr.  Four months later, at Age 05:11, Grade K:Aug, Marko is working on the first line of the Policeman's Lot song, as shown below at Vol. 1, p. 88.

The background of Policeman's Lot is that the police sergeant (played by Tony Azito), terrified at facing the pirates who are about to arrive, and whom he is obligated to arrest, rationalizes his fear as being a disinclination to incarcerate fellow human beings who are perceived as fully deserving liberty, were it not for the rare intervals when they engage in criminal activity.

A "coster", by the way, is short for "costermonger", one who sells fruits and vegetables from a cart in the street, and who in the days when Pirates was written had a reputation for being rough, and whose "jumping on his mother" might be taken to mean speaking harshly or disrespectfully to his mother.  The film version only enacts the first two stanzas of the song, although Marko's penmanship took him into the fourth.

The movie clip viewable below starts with the Police Sergeant saying "This is perplexing!" in response to Ruth having informed him that the backup that he had been expecting to help capture the pirates has been withdrawn.  The movie sets the scene for the Policeman's Lot song thusly:

Pirates of Penzance poster Fore: The Pirate King (Kevin Kline).   Back, left to right: Ruth (Angela Lansbury), Major-General Stanley (George Rose), Frederic (Rex Smith), Mabel (Linda Ronstadt)

Police Sergeant:  This is perplexing!  But no matter.  Our course is clear: we must do our best to capture these pirates alone.  It is most distressing to us to be the agents whereby our erring fellow-creatures are deprived of that liberty which is so dear to us all — but we should have thought of that before we joined the force.
Policemen:  We should!
Police Sergeant:  Well, too late now!

And right after that comes the Policeman's Lot song whose first four lines Marko is shown practicing below, and whose continuing further into the song can be inspected at Marko's Penmanship Notebooks:

Pirates of Penzance: Tony Azito as police sergeant
Policeman's Lot

When a felon's not engaged in his employment,
Or maturing his felonious little plans,
His capacity for innocent enjoyment
Is just as great as any honest man's.

Our feelings we with difficulty smother
When constabulary duty's to be done.
Ah, take one consideration with another,
A policeman's lot is not a happy one.

When the enterprising burglar's not a-burgling,
When the cut-throat isn't occupied in crime,
He loves to hear the little brook a-gurgling,
And listen to the merry village chime.

When the coster's finished jumping on his mother,
He loves to lie a-basking in the sun.
Ah, take one consideration with another,
A Policeman's Lot is not a happy one.

Clicking either the image above of Tony Azito playing the Police Sergeant, or the caption underneath it, will play the Linda Ronstadt-Kevin Kline movie version of this scene, the viewing of which is essential to understanding the further discussion below.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 1    p. 88
Age 05:11    Grade K:Aug

When a felon's not engaged in his employment

Marko has been writing Pirates of Penzance passages for more than three months when, on p. 88, he is shown working on the first line of the Policeman's Lot song.  He is no longer being supplied with a model to be copied, such that all writing on the page is his, except for occasional comments written in by his instructor.  The text to be written is in part being supplied by a printed libretto which lies at hand, and in part by memory, as the lyrics are fully memorized.

Appearing here is an eruption of "g" reversal, and on p. 89, visible through the partly-transparent paper, another eruption of the same, and also an eruption of "d" reversal and of "p" reversal.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 1    p. 93
Age 05:11    Grade K:Aug

Or maturing his felonious little plans

Eruptions of "c" reversal join a single further eruption of a "p" reversal (uncircled in his fifth line).  What may have happened here is that the eruption of a double "c" reversal in line five began to be copied as Marko proceeded, and was not immediately caught by the instructor until Marko had imitated the error a few more times, simply because the instructor was not looking over Marko's shoulder as he worked.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 1    p. 95
Age 05:11    Grade K:Aug

His capacity for innocent enjoyment

Just a little further practice begins to eradicate letter reversals.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 1    p. 99
Age 05:11    Grade K:Aug

Is just as great as any honest man's

Interest in digits and Roman numerals interrupts Pirates for a while.

So, there you have Marko — not yet out of Kindergarten — practicing the first four lines of Policeman's Lot.  As has already been mentioned, more extensive coverage of Marko's practicing Policeman's Lot can be found in Marko's Penmanship Notebooks.

What is evident, then, is that the list of skills being practiced in Rapunzel has now been expanded.  As Marko has been hearing the words articulated aloud, he is now also learning both pronunciation and the intonation that is called for by grammar and social context.  As he has watched the actors delivering their lines, he is also learning gestures and facial expressions that may be appropriate.  As there is vocal and instrumental melody, he is also learning music.  And as the words now have rhythm and rhyme, then he is learning something about poetry as well.  And as the image of the movements made by the screen characters remains in memory, then Marko also learns something about dance and choreography.  And as the episode has been presented with attention to scenery and staging and casting, Marko is learning something about theater as well.

And as there is little in Pirates that does not contain some deliberate incongruity, some exaggeration, some hyperbolization — in other words, some joke — then Marko is also learning humor.  Recollecting that Marko scored in the 97th percentile on the Verbal Absurdities subtest of his Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, one may speculate that his strength in this area had been bolstered by his five-month immersion in the thousand-and-one verbal absurdities of Pirates of Penzance (the "immersion" consisting of nothing more onerous than writing Pirates passages an average of five minutes per day).

And as there arise questions of crime and punishment, leniency and forgiveness, seemingly-incongruous traits within a single individual, natural inclination clashing with duty, then the passage teaches something about human nature and psychology.

And perhaps most important of all, between Rapunzel and Pirates, the English has vaulted from juvenile to sophisticated.  It is a tenet of TwelveByTwelve that the advanced vocabulary and the complex grammatical formations that a student practices, and the correspondingly more subtle thinking behind the words, are all being internalized, and thus being made more available in his own speech and writing and thinking.

Let's see what we get when we count the number of skills being acquired in what to the untrained eye stands in danger of being perceived as a mere penmanship exercise:  (1) penmanship, (2) general manual dexterity, (3) capitalization and punctuation, (4) spelling and morphology, (5) grammar and syntax, (6) pronunciation and intonation, (7) gesture and facial expression, (8) story telling and narrative, (9) music and song, (10) poetry, (11) dance and choreography, (12) staging and theater, (13) incongruity and humor, (14) human nature and psychology.

Two other songs sharing the same delightful characteristics as Policeman's Lot, and that offer the same propadeutic gains, are Faithless Woman! and Apprentice to a Pirate, both of whose videos, along with Marko's penmanship practice, can be found on the Pirates Supplement web page.

Let us take the occasion of the above discussion to formulate a couple of TBT rules:


Because the child has a voracious capacity for learning,
  1. never teach him a single skill where it is possible to teach a dozen, and

  2. never teach him a skill at his putative age-appropriate level where it is possible to teach that same skill at an age-appropriate-plus-twelve level.

Do these rules reflect what we have just seen Marko doing in his penmanship exercise?  Well, perhaps.  We do seem to witness at least a dozen skills being improved simultaneously.  And if Kindergarten-plus-twelve takes us to Grade 12, and if Pirates of Penzance English is at least Grade-12-appropriate English, then we may be said to be satisfying the second rule as well.  Of course the rules must be understood as idealized goals which the teacher should keep in mind during every decision, but which can be fully implemented only occasionally, and perhaps which it is desirable to fully implement only occasionally, as explained below.

Stage 4:  Reverting to the Written Word

But to achieve the very high richness of Pirates of Penzance is made possible only by studying the performance of an operetta, or one may say of a musical comedy, and appreciation of musical comedy is not the ultimate goal aimed at in language development.  A higher goal is to learn to be absorbed by no more than the written word, or one might say to be drawn into verbal content that lacks the bells and whistles of the Pirates video — no audible music, no visible dancing or gestures or facial expressions — nothing but the printed word, and with the reader's mind supplying whatever else is needed for total absorption, and so Marko's further penmanship tended to lean more toward excerpts from whatever non-musical-comedy material that was currently being read.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 2    p. 13
Age 06:04    Grade 01:Jan

Toward the bottom of the page, Marko switches his penmanship from Pirates of Penzance to a book being read aloud by the family, Charles Reade's The Cloister and the Hearth (1861):

Not a day passes over the earth but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words, and suffer noble sorrows.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 2    p. 20
Age 06:04    Grade 01:Feb

Three more sentences from Cloister and the Hearth:

He sprang with one bound into the kitchen, and there leaned on his axe, spitting blood and teeth and curses.

The good duke shut him up in prison, in a cell under ground, and the rats cleaned the flesh off his bones in a night.

To display her teeth, she laughed indifferently at gay or grave, and from ear to ear.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 2    p. 27
Age 06:05    Grade 01:Feb

Evidence that in March of Marko's Grade 1 year, the family is reading J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit:

Far over the Misty Mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The Cloister and the Hearth is still available to draw on when a particularly short penmanship sentence is wanted:

But the male mind resisted this crusher.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 3    p. 71
Age 09:07    Grade 04:Apr

Years have flown.  Marko writes in Vol. 3 in cursive.

G. K. Chesterton writing on Charles Dickens:

It is in private life that we find the great characters.  They are too great to get into the public world.

At the bottom of the page is indication that the family is reading Les Misérables, in translation of course.

M. Leblanc's whole person was expressive of candid and intrepid confidence.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 3    p. 73
Age 09:08    Grade 04:May

More from Les Misérables, but with a twist — Marko introduces two jokes.

First joke: following Victor Hugo's "This is a law", Marko inserts "bill 45 signed by Abraham Lincoln".

Second joke: Marko puns "prodigal" into "pro-de Gaulle".

And, in proportion as labor diminishes, needs increase.  This is a law.  Man, in a state of revery, is generally prodigal and slack; the unstrung mind cannot hold life within close bounds.  (Victor Hugo, Les Misérables)

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 3    p. 81
Age 09:11    Grade 04:Aug

The first entry is from Morton J. Cronin, Vocabulary 1000:

Government boards which are not courts but which subpoena witnesses, hold hearings, and perform other judicial functions are quasi-judicial boards.

Next is more from Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, abbreviated probably the sooner to get through the day's exercise:

She sprang off the bed, and remained standing for a moment, her hair in disorder, her nostrils dilating, her mouth half open, her fists clenched and drawn back.

Of primary interest on this page is the quote at the bottom about Corsican justice, from the biography, Napoleon, by Vincent Cronin:

Under Genoese rule justice had been venal, so the Corsicans had taken the law into their own hands and evolved a kind of barbarian justice: revenge.

The Corsican-justice quote is significant because of its indication that although History is not much spoken of in a description of the TwelveByTwelve pilot study, it was being pursued in the background, as for example in the reading of the Napoleon biography, and also of other biographical and historical works, most notable among which being George Orwell's Animal Farm, which was studied in particular detail, and with its parallels to the Russian Revolution being noted.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Vol. 3    p. 82
Age 09:11    Grade 05:Sep

Marko has been prepping for UBC Chemistry 103, which is about to commence, and therefore switches to practicing passages out of his Chemistry text.  Penmanship was being increasingly neglected at that time — for example, between 18-Jul-1988 and 24-Aug-1988, there are no entries.  These chemistry passages are the last penmanship exercises that Marko ever wrote.  The deterioration in quality may have resulted from feeling that penmanship is a childhood exercise being now supplanted by UBC Chemistry, among other things.  Quality more generally might have suffered from it never having been anticipated that the penmanship workbooks would someday go on public display.  That Marko can write well when he tries is evidenced by the better of his Age 9 efforts.

The chief reason for reproducing this terminal page, though, is Marko's joke.  Across the top of the heading "Law of Conservation of Mass" he has scrawled "I did not know mass could talk"!  This recalls his earlier changing Victor Hugo's "Man, in a state of revery, is generally prodigal" to "Man, in a state of revery, is generally pro-de Gaulle".  And why not?  Was not Marko's rich education teaching him humor alongside all the other things?  Did not within practically every line of Pirates of Penzance lurk a joke?


Back in conventional school, the saboteurs are following their own rules, which are the opposite of the TBT rules.  Where the TBT rules maximize enrichment, the saboteur rules maximize impoverishment:


Because the child has such a limited capacity for learning,
  1. never teach him two skills where it is possible to teach him only one, and

  2. never teach him a skill at lowest-common-denominator-plus-one level where you are paid to teach it at the lowest-common-denominator level.

More specifically, recommend the saboteurs, never teach narrative when you can teach disconnected sentences, never teach a sentence when you can teach disconnected words, never teach a word when you can teach disconnected letters, and never teach both the upper and lower cases of disconnected letters at the same time because these are topics that are best spread over separate lessons.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Age 06:05    Grade 01:Feb

When the saboteur of education is confronted with the command to teach the writing of the letters "g" and "p", he would regard as anathema having the students write "While Gregory Gogol grazed a gaggle of gray geese in Glasgow, Peter Piper was picking a peck of pickled peppers in Papua".

The saboteur prefers to impoverish the exercise down to a writing of only the lower-case "g" and "p", and if the inclusion of words is forced upon him, he permits only their minimal appearance as disconnected words, favoring particularly words that the student is unlikely to ever hear or read or use himself, like "gig" and "pip", and he presents these words undefined and unexampled in use, and therefore devoid of power to either enlighten or amuse.

  Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished

Age 06:10    Grade 01:Jul

And, reasons the saboteur, when progression to a higher level is unavoidable, then for as long as possible let it be to no more than the level of disconnected words, thus delaying the learning of grammar and syntax, and all manner of higher things that children are better off not knowing.

  Oliver Twist asks for more, Enriched is better than impoverished

Children who are restricted to the sort of exercises above feel a pain which they are too inexperienced to be able to identify as the pain of intellectual starvation, and who do not understand that they have a right to demand that their hunger be answered not by morsels but by meals.  Among them are few Oliver Twists with the recognition that they have the right to demand more, which is to say, more stimulation, more complexity, more enrichment.

But if impoverished exercise is bad, why did Marko do any?  The reason is convenience.  Cursive-writing workbooks lay at hand, and preparing enriched materials would have taken more time than was available.  In any case, the impoverished exercises were done rarely and briefly, and an occasional exposure to impoverishment might be considered to be educational, just as the occasional experience of physical hunger is educational.

Minimizing enrichment is not a thoughtless or impulsive preference, it is a meticulously orchestrated plan carried out under the guise of educational expertise, under the pretense of educational sophistication, as is exemplified below, where letters and words are doled out in minuscule portions according to a strict schedule:

National Reading Vocabulay displays the instruments which create educational impoverishment

However, the TBT view is that language exercises which leak out individual letters and words in a slow drip are responsible for the production of impoverished instructional materials.  They produced the Dick and Jane series of impoverished readers which dominated North-American education from 1930 through the 1970s, facing pages from six Level 1 Dick and Jane readers appearing below:

Dick and Jane Level 1 reader, Enriched is better than impoverished, TwelveByTwelve TBT, Look look
Dick and Jane, We Look, Level 1 reader
Look, look.
Oh, oh, oh.

  Dick and Jane Level 1 reader, Enriched is better than impoverished, TwelveByTwelve TBT, Jump Puff
Dick and Jane, Jump and Run, Level 1 reader
Jump, Puff.  Jump, jump, jump.  Jump, Puff, jump.
Run, Puff.  Run, Puff, run.  Run, run, run.  Jump, jump, jump.

Dick and Jane, Something Funny, Level 1 reader, Enriched is better than impoverished, TwelveByTwelve TBT, Look Dick
Dick and Jane, Something Funny, Level 1 reader
Look, Dick.  Look, look.
Oh, oh.  Look, Dick.

  Dick and Jane Level 1 reader, Enriched is better than impoverished, TwelveByTwelve TBT, Go Tim
Dick and Jane, Away We Go, Level 1 reader
Go, Tim.  Go up.  Go up, Tim.  Go up, up, up.
Go, Tim.  Go down.  Go, go, go.  Go down.  Go down, down, down.

Dick and Jane Level 1 reader, Enriched is better than impoverished, TwelveByTwelve TBT, Oh Sally
Dick and Jane, Go, Go, Go, Level 1 reader
Oh, Sally.   Come, come.  Come, Sally, come.
Oh, see.  See Sally go.  Go, Sally, go.  Go, go, go.

  Dick and Jane Level 1 reader, Enriched is better than impoverished, TwelveByTwelve TBT, Oh Dick
Dick and Jane, We Play, Level 1 reader
Oh, Dick.  Oh, Jane.  See Spot.
Funny, funny Spot.  Spot can play.

And the very National Reading Vocabulary rules shown above are among the many which produce impoverished reading today:

Penmanship Exercise, Enriched Is Better Than Impoverished
  First Grade reader sample, Enriched is better than impoverished

The colored letters on the Trip to Fox Mountain page above further illustrate the application of what gives the appearance of being educational expertise:

Colored-Vowel-Sounds, Enriched is better than impoverished

Whether all this expertise does any good can be estimated by comparing the reading passages in the table below, and estimating, first, what language skills may be expected from students in conventional schools who read such passages as are in the upper row, keeping in mind that these passages contain words being delivered on schedule, and some of whose letters may be color-coded by scholars able to sort consonants and vowels into hard and soft, and identify vowels that are "r-controlled", and recognize a diphthong when they see one; and by estimating, second, what language skills may be expected from students in TwelveByTwelve who read and write and memorize the adult literature in the lower row, and which literature introduces words following no schedule and which words are devoid of color-coded letters.


Dick and Jane Grade 1
  Dick and Jane Grade 1
  Fox Mountain Grade 01:Dec
Jump, Puff.
Jump, jump, jump.
Jump, Puff, jump.
Run, Puff.
Run, Puff, run.
Run, run, run.
Jump, jump, jump.

  Oh, Dick.
Oh, Jane.
See Spot.
Funny, funny Spot.
Spot can play.

  I will tell you where you can go to see the red fox.  Yes, this fox is such fun that you will want to see him each day you can.  Yes, each day.

Marko Grade K:Aug
  Marko Grade 01:Jan
  Marko Grade 01:Mar
When a felon's not engaged in his employment,
Or maturing his felonious little plans,
His capacity for innocent enjoyment
Is just as great as any honest man's.
Libretto by W. S. Gilbert and music by Arthur Sullivan, Pirates of Penzance, 1879
  Not a day passes over the earth but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words, and suffer noble sorrows.
Charles Reade, The Cloister and the Hearth, 1861
  Far over the Misty Mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, 1937

  Marko's Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale scores

Does not our expectation have to be that the students reading the conventional passages in the upper row will end up getting conventional scores on all conceivable measures of language proficiency, in other words averaging around the 50th percentile, and that the TwelveByTwelve students reading-writing-memorizing the adult materials in the lower row will be getting astronomical scores on all these same measures, scores clustering in the vicinity of the 99th percentile, like the five Verbal Reasoning scores obtained by Marko?

The only remaining question is whether such prodigious TBT performance is available only to gifted children who have been put through arduous training, or is available to all children who have been working on stress-free TBT tasks — and Marko's Penmanship Notebooks are available to support the latter view, the view that enriched penmanship exercise is a piece of cake which takes five minutes each day to eat.  Every reader will be able to convince himself of this by starting at Marko's Vol. 1, p. 1, and progressing page by page, and nowhere seeing any outburst of an innate ability which the average child might lack, and nowhere finding any escalation of task difficulty at which the average child, following the same path, might balk.  What the Marko Penmanship Workbooks do show is the growth of language skills in steps which on a daily or even weekly basis are imperceptible, and steps sometimes imperceptible even after several-month intervals — and yet steps which over a longer interval lift 50th percentile performance toward the 99th.

To be fair, the Verbal Reasoning achievement claimed above did not result solely from five minutes of enriched penmanship per day.  Several other language exercises were practiced, each of which will be discussed in due course, but most of which resembled penmanship in taking little time and requiring small effort.  Already glimpsed above is family reading aloud, as for example The Cloister and the Hearth, The Hobbit, and Les Misérables, which did take time, but which reading was experienced as recreation.  Classroom reading could play the same role as family reading.  That Marko's reading extended beyond these three books plus Pirates begins to be documented at the bottom of Marko's Penmanship Notebooks page.

And several of the activities whose videos can be seen on the Pilot Study page made strong language-mastery contributions, especially the declamation shown in eight videos, and which declamation exercise starts out in Kindergarten and Grade 1 resembling penmanship in taking something like 5 minutes per day, but which by the age of nine was taking closer to 20 minutes per day, though invariably these were 20 relaxed and stress-free minutes, as will eventually be described in full.  Nothing stops declamation from being practiced in the classroom either, made practical by more advanced students monitoring the declamation of trailing students, the advanced student deriving benefit under the principal that the best way to learn something is to teach it.

And it must be cautioned that The Cloister and the Hearth, The Hobbit, and Les Misérables are not books that can be left in a child's room, or on library shelves, with the expectation that they will get read.  Rather, the child taking an interest in reading these books starts with his becoming enchanted with their stories, sometimes by watching them on screen, but more usually by hearing them read aloud by adults, most usually parents or teachers.  The child will be drawn into adult literature to the degree that its story line first spellbinds him.  Rapunzel is greatly superior to Dick and Jane and Fox Mountain as Kindergarten or Grade 1 fare not only because its language is tolerably juvenile rather than insufferably infantile, but also because it tells a story that has the power to enchant, as evidenced by its having been retold in many languages since ancient times, and in comparison to whose plot, any plot that might be found in Dick and Jane or Fox Mountain might seem meager.

Taylor Swift plays Rapunzel
Taylor Swift plays Rapunzel


George Bernard Shaw also finds fault with school books:

George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw

[T]here is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school.  To begin with, it is a prison.  But it is in some respects more cruel than a prison.  In a prison, for instance, you are not forced to read books written by the warders and the governor (who of course would not be warders and governors if they could write readable books) [...].  In the prison you are not forced to sit listening to turnkeys discoursing without charm or interest on subjects that they dont understand and dont care about, and are therefore incapable of making you understand or care about.  [...].  With the world's bookshelves loaded with fascinating and inspired books, the very manna sent down from Heaven to feed your souls, you are forced to read a hideous imposture called a school book, written by a man who cannot write: a book from which no human being can learn anything: a book which, though you may decipher it, you cannot in any fruitful sense read, though the enforced attempt will make you loathe the sight of a book all the rest of your life.

George Bernard Shaw, Treatise On Parents And Children

And so we return to the question that was on our minds at the end of Chapter 1 — which is whether there exists a conspiracy to retard children's learning.  The motivation seems to be there — the Great Clash.  And the evidence begins to pile up.  The suppression of Marko and Jake's outbreak of excellence.  The abandonment of manual dexterity when it is needed throughout life and in support of professional skills.  The weakening of language proficiency by reliance on impoverished reading materials.  In general, the creation of mass ineptitude when the methodology to create mass excellence lies at hand.

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