Cursive, Print, Pen or keyboard!

Boy did I stir up a bees’ nest! Actually, I came upon one that had already been disturbed. It stemmed from a report in our town about the school districts in our state laying aside teaching the artistic skill of writing in cursive. The big debate was over  whether to make the kids learn how to write in cursive or not. Keyboarding, printing, and when one doesn’t have a smartphone, iPad, or keyboard, maybe, if you have to ….print…but,  please, oh, please don’t make ’em master themselves and their urges and as primary grade  students learn how to write in cursive.  Why that’s tantamount to making a youth practice the piano after someone has thrown a football or baseball his or her way. Hey, maybe I stumbled on a great idea: Let’s add "cursive teachers" to piano teachers, "tap dance  and baton teachers"  and have writing recitals. What d’ya think? We could sell videos, give away smart phones or mini iPads….the possibilities are endless.

Now, I’ve taught youth in the preteen category for over 50 years and I know what it’s about when I say with regard to learning how to write, "There’s trouble in River City!" Yeah, Yeah, I know that some eager to "be on the curve" techie type is going to say: "old man, readin’, ‘riting and ‘rithm’tic when out with the hitching post." Really?, perhaps, (Why, just the other day, I saw an electric car tethered to a power outlet on a post, hmmm) just maybe, that’s part of the reason why we Americans have a hard time keeping the label, "Made in America" on the products we buy and use. Sure the kids are bright, and yes, they learn quicker that the speed of light, but, in my opinion, it seems that part of their brain is being short-circuited while they’re being under trained when tthey’re not required to learn how to write their names. Most of them can’t read the "hen scratching of their peers, much less the letters and gift cards that grandma or grandpa sends them. What happens in our family is close to "rip open the card, glance at the picture, and show me the money." It’s really simple, they act like that because they can’t read either the printed or written words that are placed before them.  "R U with me so far?"  It used to be that I would get requests to translate letters sent from Germany. It was because the recipients didn’t know the language or recognize the letters with their special markings, etc. What I’m writing about here is nothing like that. It’s far more problematic.

Let me tell you that something relative took place in a class I was teaching just yesterday. The need for translating came about because a fellow who had been ill missed class. His buddy had been kind enough to take notes for him while hie was gone.  Then it happened… the sick dude, as he was called, was given the unreadable notes for the class taken by his buddy. But the notes were worthless! Why? Because the note taker’s "printing" was so bad that the words  were unintelligible for his friend. What made it worse, and, I think proves my point, the guy who took the notes was asked to decipher his printing and he couldn’t!  He couldn’t read his own writing. Ouch!

So… I guess I’m aiding and abetting the youngsters in their misery by making a pen that has both a ballpoint with which to write on one end, and a interactive tip on the other end with which to swipe or stroke a screen. Sometimes you have to ride two horses at the same time. Which brings me to my shop project for today. I was experiencing a little problem in achieving true roundness on my pen blanks. This I determined had to do with the flex of the mandrel that they’re turned on. So, when I came upon the solution presented by one fellow turner, I thought I’d give it a try. Well sure enough it worked…in the picture you can see how I still used the mandrel, but turned only one section of the stylus pen I was making. The note taker in the story above will get the stylus/pen with which to learn and to practice learning how to write in cursive while stroking his iPad. LOL!



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