I, Luddite

Gold Ink On Black Paper

Ink on Paper

The next morning, after I’d given my daughter the drafting set to use for her geometry homework, my son came down and saw the interesting leather box on the table. Opening it, he looked at all the pretties and asked what they were for.

I took out the compass with a pencil lead and showed him how it works, I pulled out the pen, and I explained how the ink would sort of just hang there between the metal. He didn’t seem to think this was very interesting and said, “It looks just like any other pen then.” My feathers ruffled a bit at the idea that this was any ordinary pen! I’d sweated over using the damn thing for hours.

I decided a demonstration was in order. I ran to the art room and grabbed a bottle of gold ink and some black paper so I could show him how it works. (I suppose the fact that I have such materials says something about me to begin with.) I dipped the pen into the ink and drew a series of lines to show how the thickness could be changed from a very thin line to a very thick line. I realized as I was doing it that he could do the very thing without the mess in a matter of seconds on the computer. And, he would know exactly how many millimeters thick the line would be.

“Back in the olden days,” I said, “we didn’t have computers that would draw lines or circles for us. This is how it was done.” I played with the pen a bit more as he wandered off to do something more interesting before school. Then he asked about the cursive writing, which seems to have piqued his interest at least.

When I said something about how happy I was his school still teaches cursive writing and that they don’t do it in our local public schools, my husband was a bit shocked. Call me old-fashioned or call me a Luddite, I don’t really care. I think it’s an important skill that kids need to learn. I like that they learn how to make a bow, write with a pencil and a fountain pen, draw circles with a free hand and throw a javelin. Sure, they’ll catch up with technology when they need to, but there’s something to be said for learning the basics for a strong foundation. And yes…I want them to build a fire from sticks and leaves, too. Anyone can use a match.



Filed under Parenting

4 responses to “I, Luddite

  1. Melissa Lutzenhiser

    I’m not sure what public schools you are talking about but all of the schools that I worked at and the schools in the Riverview School District still teach cursive.

    • Hmmm…I think we were in the Northshore school district. They teach a hybrid of connecting printed letters at the base rather than real cursive. And, as I said, I was told this while my 16YO was still in pre-K. Perhaps it’s changed, and I’m glad to hear it’s not a universal thing!

  2. Bill

    Why stop at building a fire? If technology is bad, why not make them eat stuff raw like it was in the Good Old Days before fire? Don’t get me started on newfangled contraptions like clothes.

    • Silly man. (Bill is my husband, so I have the right to call him that. I would never do that to a stranger…just so you know.) You know that I don’t have a problem with technology. It’s just that they should also know how to get here. The same idea applies to things like calculators. I want my kids to know that 2 X 2 means something besides tapping it into a machine and getting 4.

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