Friday, February 15, 2013

When disasters strike...

This morning I awoke to this news, “Meteorite strikes central Russia, hundreds injured”.  Something like this does not have any impact on our lives directly, but it is something to think about.  We are so heavily dependent on computer access/reliability that we may want to consider what information we have secured either on disk or printed hard copy.  The following articles have been written in the past and I think are worth re-reading to remind ourselves of our vulnerability.  Of course at the foundation is the need to ensure everyone is still able to write by hand should technology fail.

The following articles have been printed in one of our national newspapers that can give us cause for concern regarding our dependence on computers:

1) National Post, September 26, 2009 pg. A27 by Peter Godspeed - " In 2007, Beijing shocked the world when it demonstrated its satellite killing capabilities by destroying an ageing Chinese weather satellite 680 km. above the earth.  Dennis Blair US Director national intelligence: "Washington has serious concerns over the threats in the cyberworld."  US could be caught off guard in a space "Pearl Harbor".  China has used space weapons against US spy satellites.

2) Globe and Mail, June 15, 2010 Social Studies - " The sun is about to get a lot more active, which could have ill effects on Earth," reports. "...Solar storms occur when sunspots on our star erupt and spew out flumes of charged particles that can damage power systems.  The sun's activity typically follows an 11 year cycle, it looks to be coming out of a slump and gearing up for an active period...People of the 21st century rely on high tech systems for the basics of daily life.  But smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.  A major solar storm could cause 20 times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina, warned the (U.S.) National  Academy of Sciences in a 2008 report. ...Luckily much of the damage can be mitigated if managers know a storm is coming."

3) Globe and Mail, February 3, 2011 Social Studies - "Space is so littered with debris that a collision between satellites could set off an 'uncontrolled chain reaction' capable of destroying the communications network on Earth, a Pentagon report has warned " The Daily Telegraph says, "The volume of abandoned rockets, shattered satellites and missile shrapnel in the Earth's orbit is reaching a 'tipping point' and is now threatening the $250-billion [U.S.] space services industry, scientists said.  A single collision between two satellites or large pieces of 'space junk' could send thousands of pieces of debris spinning into orbit, each capable of destroying  further satellites.  Global positioning systems, international phone connections, television signals and weather forecasts are among the services that are at risk of crashing to a halt." 

Edda Manley

Friday, February 8, 2013


Letter to the Editor of Canada's Globe and Mail, by Elaine Charal:

As a long-time career Certified Handwriting Analyst, it was distressing for me to read your article in Friday’s Globe and Mail, predominantly because there was no reference to Canadian education or Canadian schools, or even mentioning that the Ontario school curriculum guideline states that “…by the end of Grade 7 students will use legible printing and cursive writing.”

Linda Sweet, Founder of Glenburnie School, a leading private school in Oakville and Mississauga, continues to have cursive handwriting firmly anchored on the Glenburnie classroom timetable.  She states that using Callirobics, a Handwriting Exercises kit that combines music and creative graphics for 5 minutes per day, her students move very quickly and successfully to cursive writing without the usual tedium of practices and shakiness that can often accompany early cursive experiences. 

The challenge lies not with learning cursive writing, but the knowledge of the education tools that make cursive easy and fun.  The root of the challenge lies with the young teachers (who themselves were not instructed properly) receiving cursory (pun intended) instruction on how to teach cursive writing.  However, there are progressive Ontario elementary schools such as Armour Heights School actively instructing cursive to Grade 3 and 4 students.

Printing was never meant to replace cursive, but as a pre-cursor (again, pun intended) ‘ball-and-stick method’ to launch into cursive writing.  The physical process of cursive writing causes information to be more powerfully entered into the brain by producing stronger neuro-pathways than simply pressing keys or choosing to print.  Research by the University of Western Ontario has shown that cursive writing is actually more efficient than printing because there are fewer pen lifts.  The very definition of cursive, in Latin, is ‘to run’. 

Learning to cursive write helps a child focus and concentrate and helps to calm the emotional part of the Brain.  Over 3,000 nerve endings in each fingertip directly connected to the brain are stimulated when using cursive.

The leading schools in Europe correctly teach the children to cursive write in grade one.  These young students, fluent in cursive and being encouraged by their more traditional parents, can be seen in coffee houses all over the city with pen in hand working in study groups and using cursive writing.  These children will become the doctors, lawyers and upper management rather than the children with less discipline who have ‘lower case’ ‘reading/writing/and ‘rithmatic skills.