Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 16th 2017 Contents viewpoint A23
Friday, June 16, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Fire One Fireworks employee Carleen Hayde, right, presents a truck driver with a seedling during an initiative entitled Plant a seed for
hope and love on Wednesday in commemoration of Corpus Christi which was observed yesterday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
PENMANSHIP, INTELLIGENCE AND PAROCHIALISM
I am a great admirer of penmanship
and never forget the style of someone
with beautiful handwriting.
This admiration has led to my keen
interest in calligraphy and graphology
(the process of analysing handwriting
to determine the writer's personality).
I am also a teacher and can say
after nearly a decade that students
who take notes with pen and paper
during class perform better on assign-
ments than those who use a com-
So it is with great interest that I
came across an article about the Min-
istry's efforts to encourage penman-
ship across primary schools.
The article made several claims en-
dorsing penmanship and advised stu-
dents that good cursive handwriting
will provide them with a higher score
than "print." The article omitted to in-
dicate how many more "marks" which
is curious since it is the crux of the
story and without this important de-
tail the event covered is rendered an-
other talk shop at tax payers'
The suggestion that "children not
only learn to read more quickly when
they first learn to write, but they also
remain better able to generate ideas
and retain information" was unsub-
stantiated (perhaps due to limited
news space) but moreover, this asser-
tion seems to conflate the ability to
write with the ability to write well
Through the article we learn that
"putting pen to paper stimulates the
brain like nothing else." Casual gener-
alisations never advance an argument
and worse still suggest that building
an argument is not needed in the first
place. The article notes that "good
handwriting will help students to
Here too the premise is very tenu-
ous and opens this argument to coun-
terclaims. For example, if the
Ministry's main aim is to help stu-
dents focus, can mindfulness not
achieve this as it has in the UK and
how do protests at various schools
which are not properly maintained all
over the country contribute to stu-
dents' ability to focus?
The Chief Education Officer seems
to see a causal link between hand-
writing and "self-esteem, creativity
and improved academic performance"
when could it be that students who
demonstrate good penmanship are
simply conscientious and that consci-
entiousness cascades throughout all
aspects of their approach to learning?
We are told that the workplace "re-
quires legible handwriting" and thus
"handwriting must be a skill that all
students must acquire." Try telling
that to your doctor. I once had a fe-
male boss who had beautiful hand-
writing. Not only was she
incompetent and morally bankrupt,
but she made me realise that good
penmanship is like good table man-
ners ---they are a sign that the person
exhibiting the skill has a lot more free
time than the rest of us. In other
words---good penmanship is a func-
tion of time; not skill.
The final paragraphs of the article
suggested that the root of this drive
is not in recent research (however
anonymous), but in the Minister's pa-
He indicated that his Ministry ad-
mires the handwriting of students at
a particular primary school in his con-
stituency (one would hope that his
Ministry has more important things
to do), as he noted that "long ago one
could tell what primary school a stu-
dent attended by their handwriting."
This is most significant because it
belies the Minister's parochial view of
the education system---that some
schools produce certain kinds of stu-
dents with certain skills while other
schools do not. As the Minister he
should be seeking to reverse decades
of this practice--- yet here he is pro-
moting it on one side of his mouth,
while on the other, advancing a desire
to share that skill.
Finally, does the Ministry really aim
to produce students who show a type
of handwriting that is "similar
throughout?" Handwriting is deeply
personal and as unique as a finger-
Who gets to determine what is
proper and beautiful handwriting?
Isn't that subjective and does it not
focus attention away from the con-
tent which is arguably more import-
ant given the steady decline in
academic performance over the
years? Does the Minister aim to pro-
duce penmanship clones in schools
and has he forgotten his Chief Educa-
tion Officer's earlier call for creativity?
TO CRIME NEEDED
Deepest sympathies go out to the good Father Harvey
on the horrific attack he endured at the hands of some
truly heartless bandits.
This appalling incident has been rightfully condemned
by the full spectrum of society but we also need to un-
derstand the motivation of the truly evil in our society to
help formulate a successful plan to apprehend, charge,
convict and punish them.
First of all, we need to start a programme of regular
interviews of all inmates of the Remand Yard and all
prisons, including youth facilities, to find out what led
these individuals to a life of crime.
Then, armed with this potent information, we can
move to reform the police service, the DPP's office and
the judicial system.
Of course, you are likely to find out that violent crimi-
nals think that we are all criminals, while they are simply
of the violent type.
In addition, your police service is too corrupt and inef-
fective, your DPP office, understaffed and overworked,
while for reasons only understood by the legal fraternity,
many court matters take 2 to 12 years to be completed
instead of 2 to 12 months.
So, the powers that be need to deal with these critical
issues in real time and implement effective solutions to
slowly return T&T to a land of law and order.
SEEDS OF HOPE
Links Archive June 15th 2017 June 17th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page