READING NOW- Words are still words and pictures are still painted, but the changing times are gradually removing them from the hard cover of a book to an electronic screen where they can be read. If …
READING NOW- Words are still words and pictures are still painted, but the changing times are gradually removing them from the hard cover of a book to an electronic screen where they can be read. If you want a picture of the place the words are carrying you, your imagination no longer has to come into play. Simple bring up Google, tell it the words that you are interested in, and you will be able to travel to the site of interest. This relegates the imagination to take a back seat, but one must admit that it delivers far greater accuracy than the imagination ever could. However, there is a hitch here. The present generation has become so accustomed to having electronics showing them pictures of everything through computers, phones, televisions, movies, and video cameras, that words are becoming obsolete except in conversations. Why take the effort to sit down and read when it can be watched with little effort?
Will teachers need to continue to teach children to be as efficient in reading as they have in the past? Who can predict where this may lead in another eighty years? Will books and the printed words as we now know them become obsolete, having been outdated by recordings? I would not the courage to venture a guess.
WRITING THEN- The confession that I have retired my old ink pen and am now writing this by punching letters on a keyboard is enough testimony to the fact that times have changed since I sat at a small desk in elementary school. I well remember the time that the writing instrument of choice was the yellow lead pencil. All classrooms had a pencil sharpener affixed to a wall, and it bore its share of use during the day. Boys thought it to be an honor when the teacher would choose one to empty the shavings from sharpened pencils. Dusting erasers fit in the same category. It was something to boast about to parents when they got home from school. “I emptied the pencil sharpener today,” was an announcement that was always made with an expanded chest.
If ink was used, it came in a small jar separate from the ink pens. To fill the fountain pens the point was inserted just below the level of the ink and a small lever on the side drew the ink into the bladder inside the pen. The writing point had a split in the middle which allowed the ink to flow evenly onto the paper. It was not uncommon for there to be ink spilled, causing a mess. When the ball point pen made its appearance on the market, it made as much excitement to me as did the appearance of the chain saw that took the place of a crosscut. Neither was cheap when they first hit the market but well worth the price if one could afford to buy them.
Here I must confess that my handwriting leaves much to be desired. I take comfort in the fact that it is generally legible but I, following the trend, do not write cursive as often as I once did. My early teachers required a printing tablet where the letters were printed with a line underneath for the student to imitate while copying. Both capital and lower case letters were studied. Later, words were given to be copied, many times as homework.
NOW- It is reported that in some schools the teaching of cursive writing is almost a thing of the past. Keyboards have taken the place of writing pads, and texting has made its own life with its abbreviated means of spelling. The reader may get a broader view of this by answering the following question; how many handwritten letters or cards have you sent, or received in the mail in the past year? At one time this was the way of choice to communicate with friends, relatives, business, etc. Verbal communication, text, and short e-mails have virtually replaced mailed letters. “Junk” mail has replaced personal mail, which the majority of recipient’s chunk into the trash can without taking the time to open and read.
Will the spoken word, by the use of electronic and recording devices, prompt schools to pay less emphasis on reading and writing than what teachers did when I was in school? Will the teaching of cursive be completely eliminated? Will writing as we now know it be unnecessary in the future? Changes are already in the works to make voice activated electronics that will replace the written word. “Please say, or enter the account (or card) number” gives me an option to get requested information verbally. It should be a surprise to no one that most writing in the future will be done without having to write anything. Will writing then become basically obsolete? The next eighty years will surely usher in vast changes.
These are interesting questions that only time can answer.
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