Thursday, November 13, 2003

Losing the love of the pen 

Courtesy of Steven Krause, I find a story about how we don't teach cursive handwriting in schools any more. Handwriting has been an integral part of our family's educational history. I was required by my fourth-grade teacher to go back to re-learn penmanship (penpersonship?) with the second graders, so I've had the same experience as Krause. But there's lots of things I had to do in school that have been left behind now, like learning touch-typing. But when my son was told he had to go to an in-between class instead of first grade from kindergarten, the reason was "fine motor skill development" which made it difficult for him to control a pencil. My daughter, who skipped first grade entirely, was approached cautiously by the second grade teacher with respect to her fine motor skills (in typical Banaian fashion, she mastered cursive with ease "to show them".)

My handwriting isn't much better now than when I was sitting with the second graders, but it doesn't mean I don't like to write. And it doesn't mean today, as Krause suggests, that kids know computers are more important to learn. The pen is, at least to me, a tactile pleasure. Typing a love poem isn't the same as writing one -- a bit of calligraphy warms your sweetie's heart in a way the IM will not (regardless of your emoticon set). That is surely part of one's education.