Archive for July, 2010

WATD: cursive handwriting and counting change — a critique on young adults of today?

July 7, 2010

When I turned on WATD this morning, just following the midday news, I came in during a debate that will rage for years to come: Should the children of today learn cursive handwriting? Computers have become such a standard in our lives now, is it really that important a skill to have?

The debate back and forth settled in a suprising way. The majority of callers said, yes, today’s children should have to learn cursive handwriting because it is an important tool to have.

A caller against it said cursive handwriting is often illegible; especially in the medical profession. She worked on printing neatly which was often met with complimentary praise (this person worked at a medical office). Another caller said it isn’t necessary to learn beyond mastering your signature.

This led to a debate about the younger generations and our dependency on computers and, in general, technology. One caller, who’s husband served in the military, said something surprising. She wasn’t allowed to contact him by phone or e-mail so they had to write letters — often in cursive. She found it more personal than writing him an e-mail.

The debate went on and the announcer, Liz Raven, told a story about how she gave a cashier a $20 and while the cashier was in the process of making her change; she found a $10. Thinking she would make the person’s job easier with the lower bill, it only complicated matters. The cashier then had to start over.

The questions remain: are the younger generations only hindered by the technology that supposedly makes our lives easier? And what if the technology we depend on to live our lives crashes? Would we even be able to function as a society?

A follow-up comment came from the cashier at a Marshfield General Store who says he always counts change in his head. He says that kids today wouldn’t even know how to check the change they get back to even see if it’s right; just by looking at it.

The fault for these shortcomings lay not with the younger generations; but with their parents. Our parents, most likely the baby boomers, have “fond” memories of sitting at the kitchen table while their parents made them go over and over how to write in cursive and learn basic arithmetic. The memories are often far from fond. Often, they verge on painful. As a result, such practices have fallen by the way side as the years progressed.

I remember being taught how to write in cursive with very little success. I always had trouble with it and thus never picked up the skill with even a modicum of proficiency.  I can sign my name, but even that is a joke, at best. I remember being at Children’s Hospital and asked to complete a test where I had to write the letters of the alphabet in cursive. Instead of faking it, I spoke up and refused. I got the examiner to agree to let me print the letters instead. To this day, I don’t know what the test even was.

To go along with that, I have a learning disability in math; which makes it far from my strong suit. I would most likely be the kid that got all flustered when Liz Raven found that smaller bill.

Just because I would be that kid doesn’t make it right. Learning how to complete basic math without the aid of computers, calculators, or smart phones is a basic life skill all of us should know how to do. With a world so dependent on technology; it is imperative that we learn how check for human error.

We are dependent on technology and the shift it has caused in our thinking is downright dangerous. We’ve become a society accustom to an instantaneous response from all areas of our life. We can see pictures on digital cameras mere nanoseconds after being taken; get responses to texts and e-mails at the snap of a finger; and the examples just go on and on. A whole list of acronyms has cropped up on the internet making it easier to send messages with fewest letters possible. The world in 2010 is built on the foundation of bigger, faster, easier.

In reality, it’s all a lie. Just because we can text at lightening fast speeds or delete that unflattering picture and take another doesn’t mean we should. Young children today are growing up unable to string sentences of actual full-length words together.

Still more to come…