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  • As they march their way through the grades, the students are naturally supposed to improve in their penmanship. From the messed-up scrawls of kindergarteners to the thoughtful strokes of an old-time college student with an essay to write. It's the natural order of things. Except, there's been a disturbance it that "natural instinct" in the passed decade. Who needs longhand, when we can just click here, click there, let fingers fly over bland keys, cramp up our fingers, waste away our imagination and forget about the feeling of pride and satisfaction when sealing a finished letter, your own personal letter that no one in the world can copy, when the receiver could tear open the envelope and know it was you before even reading anything because they have memorized the grace and style of your words on pure sweet-smelling paper?
    The cool gadgets of this new millennium come with a high price. Convenience can punch out effort and beauty any time; right? Some people out there love the new tech and don't care about what the consequences are. Others feel the loss deeply.
  • Personally, I have a theory that if this "convenient" technology keeps on taking extreme turns, and they invent phones you nestle in your ear and answer by voice, iPhones that converse with you, robots that will do your homework, we will eventually end up as mindless scum beings with useless, rubbery arms and thumbs that twitch like wild. We will become empty capsules through which Facebook and other social networks do their stuff.
    In other words, seeing that Deniz Dutton has emailed you is just not the same as mother calling from the door and saying, "Deniz! You've gotten a letter!"

    Gee! A letter? For me? I wonder who it could be!

    I love that suspense.

    Twice in the last couple months I have been mailed a mysterious package from my cousin across the Atlantic in Turkey. Each time, the package contains a long, long beautifully-written letter, goofy drawings, and a handful of small gifts. You just can't get anything like that in the virtual world. Her letters contain every detail of what is going on in her life over there, told by the long graceful strokes of her pen. Indeed, she has the prettiest penmanship I have ever laid eyes on. Whatever is killing the art of longhand in the western world must not have completely effected the east, is all I can say.
  • Even I, the one who is criticizing modern tech, has got to admit that my penmanship has gone downhill since elementary school. I can still remember that whole penmanship unit we did in 3rd grade. I was not a happy camper when we spent a school day organizing our 100-or-so cursive worksheets in chronological order, and was ready to never look back when we moved on. When I noticed that there was no longhand unit in 4th grade, I dropped to my knees, I was so relieved. But now, I'm starting to wonder if Penmanship is even required to be taught in schools anymore. I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't. I still look back on Mrs.Jean's 3rd grade class sometimes, though, and wonder if the kids there are still moaning over every cursive-practice worksheets, or if they even know such a unit existed. Who needs to learn penmanship, when you've got keyboards?
    The only time I touch a keyboard is when I add in touches to my novel and surf Cowbird, but still I don't write many letters. My writing has since become scrawl. Tell me, does drawing count as practicing penmanship?
  • The originally complex and beautiful art of English literature is slowly becoming symbols and slurred words. I mean, "How r u"? Is shortening words to letters and symbols supposed to save time? Heavy texters out there are handy with their thumbs, but if you were to choose between your hands and your mind, what would you choose? And I simply can't understand why some people act like they absolutely need the next new gadget, why it's so important to be stocked with as many phones as possible. Do they want to show off to their friends? I have the new iPad 3, what do you have? Or is it the irresistible pull of a shiny new screen?
    You can just tell by looking at someone's writing how much time they spend on the screen. Large, slurred, slanting, jumbled letters, then they are all too familiar with the keyboard. But I am also disappointed that lots of teachers go with this theme of screen time and encourage it, because as soon as I was swept into 6th grade I was typing, not writing, essays and summaries and was forced to do homework that could only be done online. The teachers defend by saying that typed homework is easier to read. Yes, indeed, and the more homework we do on the computer, the less legible our handwriting will get!
    Not too long ago, by the high school, I spotted six or so kids huddled in a circle, heads bent, thumbs flying, probably texting each other some juicy gossip. Is this what has become of "social interactions"? All I can say is that yes, indeed the future is bright.




    image: 2010 Christmas; Santa's feedback and compliments to the Chef
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