Bier de Stone (slavezombie) wrote,
Bier de Stone
slavezombie

Microcosm syndrome

In the pages of a newspaper called Int'l Herald Tibune, page four on October 1, 2003, explains what the current Laissez–faire is in the world concerning cursive handwriting. I quote from IN OUR PAGES: 100, 75 and 50 years ago 1953: Overlooking penmanship "Today, penmanship has to be picked up along the way and kids' handwriting tends to show it as a pretty poor pick-up job. [SNIP] …their parents, who did have the Palmer method, and what good did it do them?"
(click for illustration)

I came up with the idea, for a story, to involve one of the main characters in a situation writing on flat surfaces large enough to be seen from a satellite. It isn't such a far fetched idea. Graffiti artists do it all the time, although smaller and for shorter range visibility. i.e. vandalizing objects in an upright, verticle position instead of getting down and dirty to write on base surfaces, not easily read from a standing point of view. My point is always the same, people want to write what only they desire to write. I could never hope to be a "burning rubber" kind of writer, just as, I imagine, graffiti artists wouldn't be capable of holding a dip pen and expect to write calligraphy. At least not without some practice first.

I can try to understand the need to have uniform writing and the appreciation of utilizing it in SAT exams for the privilege to attend a reputable university. What I have trouble with is giving up my right to write the way I like. Here's a wiki entry on my favorite black letter, fraktur. Years ago when I tried searching the Internet for full sample alphabets of something "fraktur revival", I stumbled onto a style of writing called Sutterlin, the nearest thing, I assumed, to a revival of black letter I'll ever see. So I spent some time to learn it and now I really seem to have a preference for it. So when I read editorials like Penmanship not obsolete, I can't help but wonder which direction this country's leadership is taking us.

My reading level has probably improved since high school, which probably means I have a high school graduate reading level now (if I'm lucky), and my penmanship was horrendous back then. It isn't any wonder why students are so mixed up when they take lessons from educators who are too lazy to learn how to read black letter script. In one of the many wiki sites I've referred to for this entry, the idea that laziness in the education system governed over accommodation during the depression when typewriters for the classroom were scarce regardless of studies showing students learned a lot better when they had their own keyboard to use. The prospect of teaching the teacher to type so that students could do better in school was an obstacle, just as teaching the teacher to read Sutterlin would be nipped in the bud before it could ever be considered on the authoritative grounds that anything affiliated with the Nazis of Germany is unacceptable.


Don't write off the pencil

Worried that computers spell the end of handwriting? You're missing the point.
Dennis Baron

(Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Jan 23, 2007. pg. A.15)

Our schools are only now realizing that children who come to class already knowing how to keyboard don't have much call for cursive. Writers choose the best available technologies for their messages. William Shakespeare used a quill. During his sojourns at Walden, Henry David Thoreau used pencils he helped design (Thoreau was an engineer who worked for the family pencil business to support his countercultural activities). But were they writing today, Shakespeare would be blogging in iambic pentameter and Thoreau would be keyboarding his complaints about modern life on a computer that he assembled from spare parts in his garage.

In the article above you should find text filled with plenty of key terms for successful researching on the subject. I found some inspiration in the fun facts section of the WIMA website.

TODAY IS National Handwriting Day, when the Writing Implement Instrument Manufacturers Assn. wants you to take a break from "the rigorous world of electronic communication" and write "a good, old-fashioned letter."WIMA is pushing National Handwriting Day because of the fear that the computer, the newest writing technology, could signal the death of handwriting, the oldest writing technology. After all, after the invention of the quill and parchment, the market for clay tablets never rebounded. The pen and pencil could be next.The organization waxes romantic on its website about the handwritten word: "There's something poetic about grasping a writing instrument and feeling it hit the paper as your thoughts flow through your fingers and pour into words." Of course, those of us using computer keyboards would insist that we have that same brain- to-finger flow, just a lot faster. So WIMA also asserts that handwriting is important because it reflects our individualism. But scrawls like mine -- which my parents called full of personality and my teachers called sloppy -- are a sign that the art of handwriting is already dead.In the days before typing, penmanship wasn't about creativity. Writing had to be neat and consistent from writer to writer so that anyone could read it. Sir Joseph Porter, first lord of the Admiralty, was a successful clerk who became ruler of the queen's navy because he could "copy all the letters in a big round hand." (Porter practiced "English round hand," also known as copperplate.) Schools emphasized penmanship because they saw themselves as training the next generation of letter copiers, not the next generation of poets.Handwriting only became a badge of individuality once it was no longer an essential writing technology. That had happened in the U.S. by the 1930s with the rise of the typewriter. In 1932, researchers even demonstrated that children learned better and faster with typewriters on their desks, but schools stuck with pencils. It was the Depression, after all, and although the pupils took to the machines quite readily, it was too hard to teach the teachers how to type.Our schools are only now realizing that children who come to class already knowing how to keyboard don't have much call for cursive. Writers choose the best available technologies for their messages. William Shakespeare used a quill. During his sojourns at Walden, Henry David Thoreau used pencils he helped design (Thoreau was an engineer who worked for the family pencil business to support his countercultural activities). But were they writing today, Shakespeare would be blogging in iambic pentameter and Thoreau would be keyboarding his complaints about modern life on a computer that he assembled from spare parts in his garage.Even so, WIMA needn't worry. Yes, our handwriting muscles have turned to flab. But old technologies sometimes survive alongside new ones, and it seems that we can never have enough pens and pencils. Computer sales are flat, but the number of pencils sold worldwide each year recently topped 14 billion. Pens and pencils represent a $3-billion industry in which sales have shot up dramatically every year since people first put quill to parchment.
Tags: calligraphy, illustration, journalism, linguistics, pilcrow news, sutterlin
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