Something about me

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The writing's on the wall?

This blog post originally appeared in Prayag.

I am a student at the London School of Economics, which, in rather archaic fashion, sets long essay-type examination papers and expects them to be answered legibly in longhand. There are no assignments, no projects and 100% of the student’s grade depends on his performance in the one exam of the year. Woe betide the student who has forgotten how to write anything other than grocery lists AND has messy calligraphy, to boot! As I was mulling over ways and means of improving my handwriting speed, I was told by my son’s teacher to help him practice his lower-case English letters. She asked me to buy the 4-line notebook used for writing English, teach him how to hold the pencil “properly” and get him accustomed to spacing his letters equally.
I was highly amused. I had recently read an article on how Chinese youth are having difficulty in handwriting and how it appears to be a dying art. But as someone who spent years learning how to write neatly, in the process getting slapped on the knuckles by a long ruler not once but multiple times, and as the proud winner of several handwriting contests, I was also saddened at the loss of that personal touch, that intimacy that goes into the (hand)written word.
And so it appears, that once more, technology has sounded the death-knell for a fragment of an earlier, less electronic life. Oh well, with the printing industry in the doldrums, what did one expect? Who but a rare few ever shed a tear for the internal combustion engine that replaced the bullock cart, the cellphone that replaced inland mail, or the computer that killed the stenographer?
Now, if only someone would explain all this to my son’s teacher…..


  1. The hand written word has an innate power to understand and trust better without doubt! Its something I like doing even today. Of course I have made some adjustments to today's needs but the fact remains that the hand written words do carry a personal touch! A nice thought told so well! Short and crisp!

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  3. I still cherish hand written letters.

  4. Recently, I heard that a popular school was introducing the written alphabets to the students through the iPad. Now, I don't know if am being conservative but the idea didn't sound very welcoming. I would rather have them go through the rigmarole of learning it the traditional way of holding the pencil on the paper. The technology is always there to catch up with once you are old enough to understand the dynamics of the hand-written vs typed letters.

    1. Absolutely true. The mindset in many places is that technology is the end not the means. Yuta also uses the ipad to trace letters but the motor coordination that comes of putting pencil over paper is of a higher order altogether.


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