Archive for September 26th, 2018

The Daughter was practicing her signature, using cursive writing, earlier this year. A couple generations ago, this wouldn’t have even warranted a mention.

Now there’s a great debate regarding the necessity and efficacy of cursive writing. In some circles, it is now considered a form of creativity, art, if you will, and I think the Daughter was attracted to it at that level.

It is also true that, for some time, she was having difficulty READING cursive, notes from her grandparents, for instance. To the degree that she can, it’s like learning a foreign language. I imagine the folks who design logos are cognizant of that trend.

One of the “cons” of cursive listed: “It’s gone the way of the typewriter.” Of course, the typewriter is making a comeback.

Is the loss of cursive a “dumbing-down of our education system” or is teaching it time wasted? As one who thinks that quicker is not necessarily better, I believe that since it appears to be good for the brain, it should be taught.

“Since it engages both the right and left hemispheres of the brain, it can actually aid in reading comprehension, idea generation, spelling, brain development and memory.”

Even thirty years ago, I realized some ten-year-old children could not read an analog clock. The Daughter was learning in second or third grade, but I know I understood it before I left kindergarten, and I might have known it earlier.

The announcement that analog clocks are disappearing from UK schools caused similar conflict, with some bemoaning it, others suggesting that we can’t read a sundial either, times change, etc.

I suppose I like the analog clock – a retronym, BTW – precisely because it’s imprecise. A quarter to three might be 2:44 or 2:46, and unless you’re trying to catch a train or something, it matters little.

If I had to keep one or the other, it would be cursive writing. Yes, toddlers might have computers to type on, but there’s value to the hands-on craft.

The Author Talk for Tuesday, October 2 at the Albany Public Library will be by Virginia Eubanks. She will be talking about In Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. Eubanks “ably demonstrates why everyone should be very, very worried about the present and future of poverty management,” according to NY Daily News.

Here’s the book blurb:
Since the dawn of the digital age, decision-making in finance, employment, politics, health and human services has undergone revolutionary change. Today, automated systems–rather than humans–control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed resources, and who is investigated for fraud. While we all live under this new regime of data, the most invasive and punitive systems are aimed at the poor.

Automating Inequality systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile.

Check out the New York Times Review of the book; a story about the book on NPR All Things Considered; an interview with Virginia on PBS’s “The Open Mind”; and the All Over Albany story from book launch in Troy.

Virginia Eubanks is an associate professor of political science at the University at Albany who has worked in community technology and economic justice for 20 years. She is also the author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age; and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith.

Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in The American Prospect, The Nation, Harper’s and Wired. For two decades, Eubanks has worked in community technology and economic justice movements. Today, she is a founding member of the Our Data Bodies Project and a Fellow at New America. She lives in Troy, NY.

Author talks and book reviews are sponsored by the Friends of the Albany Public Library every Tuesday that the library is open at the Washington Avenue branch of the APL, 162 Washington Avenue, in the main auditorium at noon.

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