## Tuesday, April 20, 2010

### Czech schools: handwriting vs handprinting

Czech media (EN) just reported that the Czech schools may no longer teach neat handwriting in the future.

Click to zoom in.

Children could learn handprinting only. If you don't know what the difference is, check the picture above. The proponents of the change argue that the handwriting is useless and differs from the texts that the kids can see in the external world. That makes the kids confused.

Also, a five-year-old boy who was writing books at home and who was obviously better than William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and George W. Bush combined began to hate writing after his teacher forced him to use neat handwriting instead of his ingenious script. ;-)

Well, as a kid, I was always irritated by the unnecessary "duality" between the handwritten and printed scripts and I didn't find the handwriting too much faster, despite its "continuity", and it's surely not more readable. But like others, I had to learn the handwriting, too.

It may be a useful change. In my opinion, it would be optimal for each kid to choose what he or she wants. And by the way, more importantly, it might be a good idea to teach pretty small children how to use keyboards to type text. Also, the kids may want to learn how to send text messages instead of learning how to talk because texting is already more important for the U.S. teens than talking. ;-)

1. Dear Mr. Lubos Motl

I have previously commented on your prestigious blog regarding Black Holes and my sleep disorder, fortunately cured on March 30th. I would like to comment on the article relating to handwriting and hand printing and offer for reference the effect the implementation of such a policy has had over the past 2 decades in my home country. Mathematics as you know Mr. Motl can only be seen as a whole when you study the areas of Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Astronomy, Mechanics, Surveying, physics and then taking them into higher levels of abstraction. In the same way, Literacy can be seen as a whole when you study it as a whole. Hand printing is best to teach to young kids in quadrille paper so they can relate best the phoneme with the letter and then start making words. After one has learned that, the next logical step to challenge the mind into higher levels of abstraction is to use corsiva. Just like the next step in reading is reading out loud. With the exception of dyslexics normal human minds will develop the necessary hand and mind coordination for fluid and continuous writing and also develop the necessary fine motor skills needed for such a task. Failing to teach corsiva for fear the dyslexic minds couldn’t keep up and be discriminated has harmed Colombia’s society as a whole. Let me present my observation. The same argument that it was easier for students to learn was used for Geometry and we were taught only Euclid. Typing ceased to be taught because another government bureaucrat thought the time could best be used to learn computers. Latin stopped abruptly and was no longer even an elective. These seemingly trivial changes in the curriculum affected my generation in several ways. Calligraphy became almost extinct; this coupled with the demise of Latin cut our cultural link to the past and has us discovering the already discovered and discussing the already discussed and settled hundreds of years ago. For example: Law, history, politics, mathematics like the works of Gauss, for it is said since ancient times that if you want knowledge, then go straight to the source.
When one is to write; one writes not only for oneself, people write for others to read and understand and transmit in this way knowledge to future generations. As much respect and admiration as I have for you Mr. Motl, (that and the fact that you cured me of my sleep disorder). Unless you leave a Rosetta Stone detailing your squiggles and their equivalent in Ancient Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyph. I seriously doubt your squiggles will be the source of much understanding, on the contrary your squiggles will surely be the source of much misunderstanding for generations of physicists to come. Knowledge has to be recorded like in accounting; systematically and in a comprehensive and orderly fashion for everyone who have the right tools, to understand.
Failing to teach typing has had enormous consequences also; many have to devout time to looking at the keyboard and thinking of the letters or looking at the numbers in the calculator and thinking of which key to press. A trained typist does that automatically, just like breathing, no effort there, leaving time for the individual to concentrate on what he is actually typing. How people organize their ideas and present a coherent argument becomes much harder with the lack of these tools, tools that were readily available for older generations. Practical and Abstract knowledge no longer transmitted thanks to well meaning policies implemented by government bureaucrats to facilitate life for those suffering from learning disabilities or less than normal minds. Economists in Colombia have not yet measured the loss of competitiveness due to these misguided policies but I am sure they must be in the billions of Pesos. Small changes made with the best of intentions.

Cheers.

Karl

2. Dear Mr. Lubos Motl

I have previously commented on your prestigious blog regarding Black Holes and my sleep disorder, fortunately cured on March 30th. I would like to comment on the article relating to handwriting and hand printing and offer for reference the effect the implementation of such a policy has had over the past 2 decades in my home country. Mathematics as you know Mr. Motl can only be seen as a whole when you study the areas of Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Astronomy, Mechanics, Surveying, physics and then taking them into higher levels of abstraction. In the same way, Literacy can be seen as a whole when you study it as a whole. Hand printing is best to teach to young kids in quadrille paper so they can relate best the phoneme with the letter and then start making words. After one has learned that, the next logical step to challenge the mind into higher levels of abstraction is to use corsiva. Just like the next step in reading is reading out loud. With the exception of dyslexics normal human minds will develop the necessary hand and mind coordination for fluid and continuous writing and also develop the necessary fine motor skills needed for such a task. Failing to teach corsiva for fear the dyslexic minds couldn’t keep up and be discriminated has harmed Colombia’s society as a whole. Let me present my observation. The same argument that it was easier for students to learn was used for Geometry and we were taught only Euclid. Typing ceased to be taught because another government bureaucrat thought the time could best be used to learn computers. Latin stopped abruptly and was no longer even an elective. These seemingly trivial changes in the curriculum affected my generation in several ways. Calligraphy became almost extinct; this coupled with the demise of Latin cut our cultural link to the past and has us discovering the already discovered and discussing the already discussed and settled hundreds of years ago. For example: Law, history, politics, mathematics like the works of Gauss, for it is said since ancient times that if you want knowledge, then go straight to the source.
When one is to write; one writes not only for oneself, people write for others to read and understand and transmit in this way knowledge to future generations. As much respect and admiration as I have for you Mr. Motl, (that and the fact that you cured me of my sleep disorder). Unless you leave a Rosetta Stone detailing your squiggles and their equivalent in Ancient Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyph. I seriously doubt your squiggles will be the source of much understanding, on the contrary your squiggles will surely be the source of much misunderstanding for generations of physicists to come. Knowledge has to be recorded like in accounting; systematically and in a comprehensive and orderly fashion for everyone who have the right tools, to understand.
Failing to teach typing has had enormous consequences also; many have to devout time to looking at the keyboard and thinking of the letters or looking at the numbers in the calculator and thinking of which key to press. A trained typist does that automatically, just like breathing, no effort there, leaving time for the individual to concentrate on what he is actually typing. How people organize their ideas and present a coherent argument becomes much harder with the lack of these tools, tools that were readily available for older generations. Practical and Abstract knowledge no longer transmitted thanks to well meaning policies implemented by government bureaucrats to facilitate life for those suffering from learning disabilities or less than normal minds. Economists in Colombia have not yet measured the loss of competitiveness due to these misguided policies but I am sure they must be in the billions of Pesos. Small changes made with the best of intentions.

Cheers.

Karl