Saturday, September 1, 2018

Sundials and quills in primary school

Once again I've seen people complaining that children aren't being taught to read analogue clocks. The technology is largely obsolete. Go to K-mart and have a look at the clocks on display. Digital is cheap and reliable. Nobody has a sundial except as a decorative measure. Sundials worked straight off the sun and as the length of the day changes from season to season needs a mental adjustment to use & I'm sure that less than 1 in a 1000 people would have the slightest clue how to adjust the value showing on the dial to match the local time.

Another oft voiced complaint is that children aren't being taught to "write" meaning "joined up letters" or cursive. Cursive for largely forgotten reasons is regarded as high status, but where did it come from.

Quills are quite fragile and also when you lift a quill pen from the parchment it has a tendency to spatter ink. One of the main reasons cursive was invented was to minimize these problems.

Education these days is so removed from quills that if you hand the average child a goose feather and a pen knife they have absolutely no idea how to make a pen. For that matter steel nib dip pens that replaced the quill and fountain pens that replaced the dip pen are pretty much extinct. Ballpoints don't spatter, nor do the displays on tablets (although it's quite possible that there's an app that simulates it).

Let's not teach obsolete technology. Today's children will face technology their teachers probably can't imagine let's not assume that ancient ones will be relevant to them.

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