It is the pleasure of handwriting that Philip Hensher sets out to evoke – the strange, even mysterious pleasure of it, the thing about it that makes me, for example, discover in detail what I feel about something only when I begin to see the words for it appearing on paper, written by my hand. I wish he had been here yesterday, when I was describing his book to a friend of mine who is in his very early twenties and was incredulous when I told him about schools not teaching handwriting. ‘But when you type the letter A,’ he said, ‘you just press a button and an A appears. When you write it’ – and he traced an A in the air – ‘you are making it’. Surely Hensher, like me, would have seen a glimmer of hope in that reaction from a person so young.
The full review of The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, and Why it Still Matters By Philip Hensher (Macmillan) is at the link. Things change. If we’re worse off because we do not write or cave walls anymore it is impossible to tell. I used a typewriter for a few years during college – it was a semi-word processor, able to hold some memory. I was struggling financially and one of my relatives let me use it. While grateful at the time, I can’t say I miss it. I know how to write in cursive, but usually use block point, to make sure the short note I write can be read. There is a lot to be said for writing long works/projects on paper with a comfortable ink pen with cursive. Sometimes the best thing about what I wrote is the letters I created. The substance usually is not awful, but the writing doesn’t improve regardless of the medium used to produce it. One other great thing about writing, the actual physical act of creating marks on paper is that paper is not indestructible, but it doesn’t crash.
Interesting insights into children and how they perceive how the world actually works – Educating jurors about science may have no effect. There was a recent article that claimed that surreptitious beliefs about how life on earth evolved had an advantage because children found otherworldly explanations more intuitive. This study found almost the opposite. Children are not mystically centered by nature. On the contrary, the tendency to have unjustified beliefs grows with age,
Generally, we think of children as having more supernatural beliefs. As they age and gain education and information (as well as brain development) they abandon the supernatural for science. Right? Apparently not. These researchers show that we retain both supernatural and scientific ideas–flexibly combining or interchanging them to explain various events.
For example, “a person might explain AIDS using witchcraft in one instance, biology in another, or combine the two in a third instance”. Indeed, say the researchers, the tendency to invoke the supernatural explanation increases with age rather than decreases!
One of our favorite examples of this comes from some work we did in East Texas last year where an older white female mock juror [who happened to be a school teacher] described a popular social networking site as “the devil’s work”. The grins in the observation room quickly faded and jaws dropped as we saw numerous other mock jurors nodding grimly. She was a school teacher. None of them appeared to be kidding.
It is common for mature adults to combine rational knowledge with irrational beliefs. Especially when corned in an discussion, they will have a tendency to reach for any available bits in their base of knowledge for ways to explain what, how and why they think something is true.
Antoni Dobrowolski, a former Polish teacher arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 for teaching underground lessons to students, died on Sunday at the age of 108, according to a Polish official speaking with the Associated Press. He was the oldest known survivor of Germany’s largest death camp.
Banning elementary education beyond four years was one of many tactics employed by Nazi Germany after its invasion of Poland in 1939—a strategy aimed at undermining Polish culture and wiping out its intelligentsia and leadership class. A spokesman at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum told the AP Dobrowolski died in the northwester town of Debno.
Not the the most original insight, but of the very radical political movements that began at the beginning of the 20th century, they all, far right and left, shared a suspicious and frequent contempt for education.
Inside Romney Bain’s Chinese Sensata Factories, Where Workers Put in 12-Hour Days for $.99-$1.35 an Hour. The conservative movement must admire communists to some extent since they seem to love the idea of workers as unquestioning low paid drones. Mitt Romney talks a lot about jobs. But does he have a plan to create any?
This thumbnail photo is from this fascinating collection – Pictures from a Drawer 1915 – 1940.