Sunday, January 03, 2016

Batch of links

- I realized that I haven’t yet talked about Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain (affiliate link), and I must remedy that! I read this book last spring and absolutely loved it. It discusses the extrovert ideal (including the charismatic leadership and groupthink that are so prevalent these days), the biological and cultural predispositions to introversion, and how to function as an introvert (how to talk to extroverts, when to act more like them, etc.). It also dispels some myths, for example explaining the difference between someone who is an introvert and someone who is asocial. Every page I read made me nod my head, “Yes. Yes, that’s me!” I highly recommend it if you are an introvert or if you are trying to understand introverts. You can see the author’s TED Talk here (I had linked to the French version a few years ago). Bonus: a Buzzfeed list of 17 graphs that are way too real for introverts.

- A neat animated video on blame, and one on the difference between empathy and sympathy, both narrated by Brené Brown.

- A couple moving to New York wasn’t sure which neighborhood would be best for them, so they had the brilliant idea of renting a dozen Airbnb apartments for a month each before deciding where to settle down.

- A really great, really moving article about death, written by a father of two after his wife passed away from cancer and their best friend came to help. An excerpt: “I was in shock and stayed there a long time. We don't tell each other the truth about dying, as a people. Not real dying. Real dying, regular and mundane dying, is so hard and so ugly that it becomes the worst thing of all: It's grotesque. It's undignified. No one ever told me the truth about it, not once. When it happened to my beloved, I lost my footing in more than one way. “

- And an essay titled One Bouquet of Fleeting Beauty, Please, about the impermanence of life as seen by an assistant florist. (This hits home to me mostly because I used to be an assistant florist too.)

- Apparently, having a doppelgänger is not that unusual – each of us might have a half-dozen or so around the world.

- Did you know there’s a new way to learn written Chinese? It looks very promising, too.

- I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the “death” of handwriting. Not just the loss of handwriting to keyboards, but the loss of cursive to script.

Forty-five (!) US states have dropped teaching cursive in favor of using keyboards, even though studies show that kids who learn cursive script exclusively in their early education have a leg up on others as far as quality of writing goes. Specifically, learning cursive over script (the two types of handwriting) allows kids to have better grammar and spelling, as well as to write more quickly and more legibly. Notably, there are no more problems with mirror letters and spacing, and kids understand words and sentence structure more easily. Keyboards should only be introduced once some form of handwriting has been mastered. (All this info is from an article published by the Université de Montréal.)

Actually, a very interesting article in The Atlantic explains how the ballpoint pen killed cursive. You see, cursive was natural when everyone used fountain pens, but a ballpoint pen actually makes it harder to write in cursive, making script a more natural approach. I learned cursive with a fountain pen (though I have since switched to a cursive-script hybrid using ballpoints), and it didn’t even occur to me that some people don’t know how to use a fountain pen until I met the Engineer – he has no problem with a ballpoint, though, but looking at him with a fountain pen, you would think the pen had a mind of its own and was intent on defeating his attempts at writing! We were obviously in different school districts, though this make me wonder what schools still use fountain pens these days.

A Time article titled The paperless classroom is coming showed both sides of the analog vs. digital debate: teachers say they observe a 20% improvement in the quality of student writing when using digital word processing (as opposed to longhand), and schoolboards do everything they can to bring technology to classrooms. But parents worry that their children won’t know how to write by hand properly and they are left out of the loop when there is no paper trail; plus, doctors warn of physical ailments tied to looking at blue light from a screen too long or sitting at a desk made for pen and paper while using a computer. Obviously, one can have a much more interactive classroom with computers or tablets, as well as teaching methods that are more tailored to each child, but I worry that something important is lost as well when computers are introduced too early in development.

1 comment:

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.