I should have waited to write the blog post I wrote yesterday, when I came home from a beautiful walk with Bear. Definitely fit today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt. Those glorious moments are pretty uncommon these days, and this morning I had to laugh. When I grabbed my jeans to put on, I noticed I’d sat in bird shit yesterday. Glory is grounded in shit after all, something reinforced when “traffic” (three cars) on the “highway” to the Refuge was slowed by a tractor pulling a manure spreader into a hay field.

Teaching “art” to the kids has inspired me to think about my early years in school. I’ve realized that a LOT of what “they” were doing to us had nothing much to do with what they told us they were teaching us. Neither of the kids writes — prints — halfway decently and the little girl doesn’t even write legibly. Seeing this at first I was shocked and a little worried then it hit me.


I thought about all the hours in school we just sat there with special lined paper and practiced printing letters, then, in second grade, we learned to “…write like grownups” — cursive. As I watch the little girl struggle with her hands when she does anything, I think about how they taught us to control and use the small muscles in our hands. We THOUGHT we were learning to write and it was annoying that we had to keep practicing, but that wasn’t what “they” were doing at all. I thought about how these amazing tools at the ends of our arms contributed to make us human. I wondered if our word “man” came from the Latin word, “manibus,” or “hand.” (I don’t really care what the answer is.)

A person can think a lot of things watching kids make ghosts from tissue paper and egg cartons.

17 thoughts on “Manibus

  1. I still handwrite notes for my course and I will speak to the class in zoom rather than typing text. The kids are lucky to have you! Maybe they could make animals out of letters, so they get the shapes of the lerrers better? S for snake and B for Bees are easy….

  2. There was actually a study a few years ago (I’m too lazy to look up the citation right now) in which they gave college students either a laptop or a pencil and paper to take notes on a lecture. They later tested them for retention. Those who hand wrote notes retained more information. Their observation was that handwritten notes tended to be more of a summary and typed notes tended to be verbatim. Their preliminary conclusion was that people who hand wrote notes processed the information to distill it and write the salient points rather than just type as fast as their fingers could move and copy information without thought. (I know, Jim said that above, but somebody bothered to study it.)

    • That’s very cool. I used to get something verging on irate when my students photographed the black (or white) board rather than taking notes. And then there’s PowerPoint which, teaching Business Communication, I had to use since I was teaching it. I knew my days were numbered when an ignorant, entitled little bitch said, “You have to print. I can’t read cursive.” Not, “Please print” but “You have to.” My problem in the professorial role writing on the board is dyslexia which is pretty much not there when I write in cursive but when I had to print? I wrote, “Role mole” for role model. Seriously. 😀

  3. I loved to write in cursive. I taught myself “lady’s hand” from a Colliers Encyclopaedia published in 1880. I loved the flowing script and the flourishes. It took me a whole summer of close to 4 hours of practice daily to finally have beautiful handwriting. My papers were lovely. Then my junior year of high school we were informed that typewritten papers were required. I still have lovely handwriting but find that almost everything is typed – email, text, poetry… all because the computer is what is required.

    • I should do a post on handwriting. I have some examples of my grandmother’s old fashioned hand writing learned in a country school in Iowa. I’d love to see yours!

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