SABOTEURS OF EDUCATION CREATE A FUMBLEFINGER SOCIETY|
It took 529 years to take teen-artist portraiture from
but the progress was worth the wait, saboteurs of education would have us believe.
by Luby Prytulak
You are at www.twelvebytwelve.net/fundamentals/fundamentals-penmanship.html
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First posted 25 May 2013 03:30pm PST, last edited 04 Jul 2013 09:33pm PST
Hardly anyone writes in longhand anymore. Even when students put pen or pencil to paper, they're not necessarily writing in cursive. According to data released in 2007 by the College Board, a national college-preparatory nonprofit, only 15 percent of students used cursive in the essay section of the SAT — 85 percent used printing. educationviews.org/~
The excerpts from a CNN article below touch on some of the arguments surrounding the abandonment of cursive.
Cursive vs. typing: Which should schools teach?|
By Rachel Rodriguez, CNN, August 24, 2011 www.cnn.com/~
Mary Hudnall's perfect script comes from years of teaching handwriting to third graders.
Forty out of 50 states in the United States have adopted the Common Core curriculum, which phases out cursive writing in the classroom, for their public schools. According to its mission statement, Common Core seeks to teach skills that are "robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers." In Common Core, the time formerly devoted to teaching cursive is spent on learning to type and other digital skills. [...]
The TwelveByTwelve view is that cursive writing is immensely valuable and its teaching should not only be retained, but intensified. The CNN title above presenting a choice of "cursive vs typing" is misleading, as the best answer is that students need to know both. And they also need more intensive training in printing, as my impression is that their printing is being neglected too, and that the legibility of student printing is also on the decline.
The fundamental and obvious justification for teaching printing and cursive is that despite computerization, we continue to need to print and write both rapidly and legibly. And a further reason, mentioned in the CNN report above but more usually overlooked, is that penmanship is a first step toward building a manual dexterity which is useful in many everyday situations, but also is indispensable in many professional tasks.
The teacher whose students complain that they are being made to learn cursive when their friends in other schools have been relieved of this burden has it within his power to convince the complainers of the advantages that flow from penmanship training by providing them with such information, and projecting for them such hypothetical scenarios, as the following.
|Some Professions Depend Upon Good Handwriting|
|Doctors need good handwriting|
Physician illegibility is legendary ...
This illustration is an example of a hand-written prescription for Metadate ER 10 mg tablets. Metadate is a drug used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Due to the similarity in name, poor penmanship and the omission of the modifier "ER", the pharmacy filling the prescription incorrectly dispensed methadone 10 mg tablets. Methadone is a morphine-based product used as a heroin substitution therapy and analgesic. Methadone is not used for the treatment of ADHD. www.fda.gov/~
... and at other times causes brain damage ...
Legal obligation to write clearly
... and of course causes a vast number of other injuries, the chief among them being death:
By Jeremy Caplan Monday, Jan. 15, 2007
Some physicians try to make up in adulthood what their teachers neglected to teach them in Grade 1:
January 21, 1991 | BETH ANN KRIER | TIMES STAFF WRITER
Hold onto your prescriptions. It looks as if some doctors are serious about improving their notoriously horrendous penmanship.
The 98,000 patient deaths in the cartoon above was not fantasy, although it should be understood to refer to "a range of medical errors", of which "written miscommunication" is only one variety:
By Rene Sanchez Washington Post Staff Writer May 16, 2000 jerz.setonhill.edu/~
LOS ANGELES — The class began with a gentle but humbling plea: "Pretend like you're in first grade."
|Surgeons need good handwriting|
Surgeons particularly need manual dexterity in handling scalpels, as what needs to be cut often lies dangerously close to what mustn't be cut, and the opinion sometimes is that every variety of manual dexterity serves to strengthen scalpel-handling:
Hobbies of Great Surgeons Aid in Life-Saving Marvels|
Modern Mechanix Nov 1933 blog.modernmechanix.com/~
Almost all surgeons are constantly seeking to increase the skill of their hands and their ability to coordinate brain and muscle. One surgeon of my acquaintance took up etching as an aid to developing more delicate control over his fingers. Several whom I know learned to play the violin in order to increase the nimbleness of their hands. Again, Dr. Forbes Hawkes, noted for his remarkable operations upon the kidney, learned to play the piano as training for his fingers although he did not care for it as a musical instrument.
Although penmanship is not mentioned above as an exercise supportive of surgical skill, etching is mentioned, which seems reasonable — the action of drawing an etching needle over a metal surface, whether in a straight line or a curve, at the correct orientation and with the correct pressure seems very much like the action of drawing a scalpel over the surface of the human skin, or over the surface of a bodily organ, also in a straight line or a curve, at the correct angle and at the correct depth. And of course drawing with an etching needle on metal is very similar to penmanship with a pencil or pen on paper
And, as mentioned above, there are demands on a surgeon's manual dexterity in addition to cutting, prominent among them being the tying of surgical knots, eight of which are pictured immediately below, followed by steps 12-14 out of the 15 required to complete what is called the "Surgeon's Knot Square 2=1" — reproduced here to show what a high degree of manual dexterity a surgeon needs to have:
|Dentists need good handwriting|
Dentists need good handwriting not only because they, like doctors, write prescriptions, but also because their work requires manual dexterity, and as in the case of surgeons, diverse manual-dexterity exercises help strengthen that manual dexterity:
|Teachers need good handwriting|
The quality of teacher handwriting varies:
However, it should be mandatory for every teacher to have good handwriting, so that whatever he/she writes on the board, or by way of feedback on essays or examinations, should be legible, and not leave the student frustrated at being unable to tell what it is that his teacher is trying to say:
|Politicians need good handwriting|
Even politicians need good handwriting because occasion may demand that they project the image of not merely signing a form letter, but of actually giving their letter their personal attention, and of spending time to compose it, as for example British Prime Minister Gordon Brown writing a letter of condolence to Mrs Jacqui Janes upon the loss of her son, soldier Jamie Janes, killed in Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's letter of condolence
Grief-stricken mother, Mrs Jacqui Janes
|Computer history might have been different had Steve Jobs and Sumner Stone not studied calligraphy|
In days of yore, penmanship training had not only been strong, but actually flourished in the the higher manifestation of calligraphy.
Shown drawn in pencil is Arepo Italic, one of many Sumner Stone fonts:
In addition to documented events which demonstrate the value of good handwriting, a teacher is able to describe for his penmanship students imaginary scenarios, such as the following, which are supportive of the notion that the manual dexterity that good penmanship creates can prove advantageous in many situations.
Yes, it must have been that guy coming out of the hotel elevator who asked me for a light, and then brushed past me, who made off with my wallet. Since I had my pencilbox and sketchbook with me, I was finishing his portrait just as the police arrived. The hotel made photocopies which were quickly distributed, and the pickpocket was nabbed within minutes.
So far, so good — the ruins are where the map said they'd be — but now I need to befriend the local natives, and piece together whatever fragments of information they might be able to tell me about the Xuru Curse.
They were sure right in Journalism School about keeping up your shorthand! My voice recorder got crushed in my saddlebag, and Arnie's laptop gave up the ghost when it got immersed crossing the Swamishi. And if they had survived, we would have run out of batteries long ago. And I had noticed earlier that my audios were largely unintelligible — the background noise that my mind is able to filter out when I hear people live, can't be filtered out listening to a recording, and so I often can't make out what is being said. Also, when I'm on the spot, I know who is speaking, but when I listen to the recording, the voices are often impossible to distinguish.
What a strange family those Zilches are! Within an hour of arriving at the cottage, their kids start whining that there's nothing to do, and so every afternoon they drive into town to buy some new toy — inevitably something big, spectacular, and preferrably noisy. Within half an hour of getting back to the cottage, the toy is discovered to be boring and is tossed aside, and then the kids start whining to go back home to the city so they can watch their favorite TV shows. So different from me! Give me a pencil and a pad of paper, and I'm happy for the rest of the summer.
I tried to persuade Arnie to join me on one of my drawing expeditions, and for a moment I thought I detected a spark of interest, but when I saw that he gripped a pencil like a dagger, I knew his interest would evaporate in two minutes, and I was right. The Zilches suddenly up and returned to the city after only four days. I had been out sketching the haunted farmhouse (as it is known locally), and didn't learn of their departure until I got back. Arnie had left me a note, which from the three exclamation marks at the end seemed to be important, but from the few words that were legible, I couldn't begin to guess what he was trying to tell me. I didn't get to show him my sketch of the truck that sits beside that haunted farmhouse, and whose lights, locals say, have been known to come on at night, and its horn to honk, as if someone was trying to drive away, and yet failing.
Mr Mudrock was telling us in Social Studies how grateful we should be for the modern machinery which lifts sore labor from our backs. "Look and think!" he said, showing us, on the one hand, six portraits drawn by 16-17 year olds in 2013 (one of whom was considered by his classmates to be a great artist) and comparing these six to a single self-portrait drawn by 13-year-old Albrecht Dürer in 1484. The six contemporary portraits, Mr Mudrock told us, testified to our advanced civilization. Modern man, he said, no longer needs to put in the long apprenticeship of learning to draw because he can use a camera instead. And as a result of dropping art from the curriculum, students today have more time to devote to things that are really important, things that cannot be done for them by a machine.
American high-schoolers draw faces at the age of 16-17 cerij.wordpress.com/~
Immediately, Bo Kozak shot up his hand and said, "And we no longer need the long apprenticeship of learning how to play musical instruments, because machines — electronic ones — provide us with continuous music of a quality higher than we would be able to play ourselves."
What a great idea the sketching tour of Europe was! I've never had so much fun in my life. And the summer after first year Architecture is exactly when it does the most good — we've already learned some architecture, and so know what to look for, and the variety of what is to be found in Europe really stretches our imaginations.
When the competition was announced to design a new Science Pavilion, I immediately began sketching out ideas, some of them admittedly far out. Arnie just laughed, and said the chances of winning were one in a million, and while I was wasting my life chasing rainbows, he was raking in a bundle supplying developers with designs for tract housing. When he saw my preliminary sketches, he said "Everything that is practical is already being done, and curves are definitely not practical, which is why I avoided drawing any in our Architecture classes — a smart move, businesswise, don't you agree?"
When I showed him a photo of the Pod Pavilion in Kuala Lumpur, Arnie said that a box would have provided the same volume of usable space at one tenth the cost. When I asked, "What about aesthetics?" Arnie answered, "Of course aesthetics is important. That's why you always put a statue in the foyer."
Taped to the inside of the cover of my idea book is a page of Leonardo da Vinci engineering sketches with notations that had been brought to class attention in Professor Gerard's mechanical engineering class with the recommendation that we all develop the habit of sketching out our ideas in a notebook whenever they occurred to us, and so be able to return to them and elaborate them. "Every machine", Professor Gerard said, "starts as a rough sketch on paper. If you don't capture the idea in a sketch as soon as it flits into your head, it might vanish forever."
When Svitlana returned to Kiev, she headed directly for my dorm room, but I was out visiting the caves in Feofaniya, so she wrote a farewell note in my journal, just under the map that Oksana had sketched giving me directions to the Opera House.
Svitlana's note ends by asking me to write. No problem! Having filled a dozen exercise books with Ukrainian of all kinds makes it a simple matter for me to flip into Ukrainian mode. The best parts in all that practice were passages that I knew by heart from hearing them sung by Kvitka, passages which never failed to transport me into her magical realm.