Odds and ends

First, I think this cartoon accurately describes the weather we’ve been suffering through lately:

Last night we had a lovely thunderstorm.  Greg and I sat out on the front porch and watched it rain for about half an hour.  It had cooled off so much that I actually got goosebumps!  It was all lovely and romantic and wonderful.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

In other news, I ran across a post yesterday on Freshly Pressed that I found quite interesting.  It was called Is Cursive Obsolete? and concerns the decision in Indiana to eliminate cursive from the public school curriculum.  The author cited a couple of news articles and made some interesting points.  The comments are what have really gotten me riled up, however.  There’s quite a debate raging in the comments section about whether or not cursive or even handwriting in general are worthy of being taught in schools anymore and I’ve been appalled and astounded at the number of people who think that handwriting and good penmanship are no longer important or worthy of being taught in school.

Some people have said that we should focus our education on information literacy, math, and physics because these things are important while knowing how to write is not.  Why not?  Because there are computers on which you can type and so long as you know how to type, well, then you’re all set.  Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but what happens when the power goes out?  Your computer won’t work then.  And what happens when your laptop battery dies?  You’re up a creek without a paddle.  Computers are wonderful things, indeed – when they work, but they don’t always work like they’re supposed to.  With pen (or pencil) and paper, you don’t have the same issues.  Besides that, what happens if people stop learning how to write in cursive but then need to sign their name to something?  We’re not yet a paperless society, so physical signatures are still required and printing your name doesn’t count as a signature unless you’re five, at which point you can’t be held legally liable for something you put your name to anyway.  Try endorsing a check without signing in cursive – I’ll bet the bank won’t take it.  At least, they wouldn’t the last time I tried it.

There are so many comments on this post at this point that I have had trouble trying to find some of the ones I wanted to reply to in my own post, but suffice it to say that there are quite a few commenters who felt quite passionately about the subject, whether eliminating cursive was something they were for or against.  I’m for keeping cursive and penmanship as part of the school curriculum and if there comes a day when our school decides not to teach it anymore, then I will just have to bite through my tongue (in order to keep my sanity and patience – I’m not cut out for teaching) and teach my children how to do it myself.

One commenter mentioned that it is much easier to read tone in a handwritten note or letter than it is in an email and I am quite inclined to agree.  With handwriting, whether it’s printing or cursive, you can tell a lot about how someone is feeling by looking at the size of the letters, the slant of the lines (whether the lines run uphill, downhill, or stay level), the pressure the writer used in jotting down the words, and a wide variety of other things.  With an email, though, or a text message, everything is uniform and reading between the lines is much more difficult.  Reading between the lines, however, is often essential to understanding a person’s full meaning and you may miss something important if you’re unable to read between the lines.

Another person wrote that they didn’t “feel the need to write in hieroglyphics anymore.  All language evolves.”  This was a reference to the last line of the actual post, where the author wondered if “a simple handwritten note would look like hieroglyphics to the next generation”.  Whether that commenter feels the need to write in hieroglyphics or not is not the point – if children don’t learn how to read and write in cursive, how will they be able to read historical documents that are written in cursive?  Yes, language evolves, but this is not about language evolving.  This is about teaching people how to communicate with written language.  And yes, that, too, evolves, but handwriting has been with us for millenia.  Just because we’ve invented a new way to communicate with writing doesn’t mean that all of the old ways should be abandoned.

The whole thing reminds me a lot of the comments on my EFSOTD posts on whether or not proper spelling and grammar are important.  Yes, language evolves, but LOLspeak is not language, it’s lazy.  Language takes effort to learn and effort to use correctly and people who don’t try but then complain when others make fun of their poor language skills ought to have some sense beaten into them.  Whether that beating is literal or figurative doesn’t really matter, just so long as it happens.  One of the commenters on the cursive post mentioned that forcing children to do something that’s uncomfortable for them – using cursive – was just cruel.  Writing period is uncomfortable at first, but one does not become comfortable with it unless one practices regularly, whether in printing or in cursive.  Learning any new skill is uncomfortable at first, but if you don’t practice, you’ll never get the hang of it.

(c) 2011.  All rights reserved.


Thoughts: You got 'em, I want 'em!

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