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Are Texting, keyboards and touch screens to blame for terrible handwriting?




It’s generational, but those of us brought up with handwriting competitions at school and handwritten essays and the written examination are judgmental of a generation who apparently have terrible handwriting and can’t spell.

Do they need to? They can touch type – can you? Faced with a sheet of paper and a pen to write an essay they may struggle to be legible and make spelling mistakes – but how often do they do that, or will they need to that.

Isn’t it like complaining in the 8th century that scribes would be rubbish with a chisel putting their words in stone.

The goal is everything – clear communication. Doesn’t technology deliver this?

Head down and write !

Paper Work Pens

I was brought up on a fountain pen. Snobbery at my boarding prep school equated Biros, ITV, Radio 1, comics and guitars with a different class and one that they were not going to indulge. You develop your handwriting with an ink pen age 8-13 and there’s no going back. Writing with a Biro I find is like trying to scratch your name in ice with a ski-pole.

Hear I am, prefered time of working 3.00am to 5.00am, head down, collecting my thoughts, ploughing through reams of paper as if I was sitting a time examination.

I think it works, for me at least. The ‘Muse’ joins me after half an hour and the ideas flow. I then sleep on it. Further ideas and fixes bubble up and I add these before breakfast. If I don’t write it down, by the evening it is lost. If I add it to the many hundreds of pages of Google Docs and notes it is as likely to become buried in electronic fluff.

In the image above I’d been brought to a halt by an empty ink cartridge. These have become costly. £4.50 for a packet of five cartridges! I must go online and find a supplier.


QWERTY vs Fountain Pens

We had to use fountain pens.

Biros wer not allowed. Neither were radios. Or guitars. Or comics, except for Asterix in eitehr French or Latin. This was an English boardinr preparatory school c 1970. My home for five years.

I learnt to type when I was given a second-hand mechanical typewriter as a Christmas present. Odd, I thought. I had wanted an electric guitar. 30 years on my son wanted an electric guitar. With three acoustic guitars in the house & little wish to be tutored or to follow his lessons at school the electric guitar didn’t materialise for him. Instead his saving, looking after a neighbour’s guinea-pigs when they were on holiday & playing with their primary school & nursery age boys … and some deft online searching, he bought an iTouch.

His bedroom is an emporium to all things iTouch.

His three best mates all have an iTouch too now. He’s the early adopter … they follow. He leads & champions wooly hats, T-shirts & trainers 🙁 Just the way he is gregarious & enthusiastic for new ‘stuff.’

Homework last night required some research on the history of Blues.

Fed up with being told Google has 94% of the search market in the UK I reverted to ‘Ask Jeeves’ which I used to prefer or trial over various others a decade ago ? (or less). Wikipedia was offered.

‘I always wiki my home work.’ He says.

Like ‘to google,’ ‘to wiki’ is now a verb. He touch types at 40 wpm. He is 11. He has had access to a computer since he was … 2. He played a Mavis beacon QWERTY keyboard game/learner age 4.

How un-21st century, how clunky is a QWERTY keyboard?

What happened to voice recognition?

Why has a better keyboard not been adopted?

Being a ‘game boy’ he ignore the mouse.

He could be shooting at the enemy the way he uses the cursor to get around.

Later in the evening my daughter is doing History Homework.

It is the First World War. Her great-grandfather was a machine gunner. Her survived the Somme & Ypres and successfully transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. Three ‘Really useful’ boxes contain a collection of Imperial War Museum books, his medals, photos & postcards of the time … he is even featured in a cutting from the Consett Gazette from November 1917 having been awarded the Military Medal. In this box there is a full collection of 54 magazines on ‘The Great War’ published c.1929 & edited by H.G.Wells. The covers are red, everything else is in black and white.

‘When did they invent colour?’ She asked.

We discuss this. We look through the many pages of mules & limbers, mud & soldiers, planes that are barely recognisable has such (a flying hay-rick) and ‘tanks’ that look as static as pill-boxes.

“When did they start inventing things?’ She then asked.

By this she means mobile phones, computers, TV sets … or ‘stuff,’ as in ‘eletronic stuff.’ When did humans ever not invent? From the perspective of a child, ‘innovation’ within the context of the world they are familiar with must produce considerable advance, particularly in this era when ‘new stuff’ is redundant as it hits the shelf.

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