Sued51's Blog

{January 27, 2015}   Photography: A Life Skill?

I recently attended a beginning digital photography class through a Photography Meetup Group. I felt so fortunate: the instructor was an experienced photographer and the class was well-prepared, and helpful…and it was only $5.00! I met some nice people and chatted a little.

I processed the experience in my mind as I drove home. It struck me that many of the people I talked to at the class were not hoping or aspiring to become photographers. They had their own individual reasons for coming that involved unique ways of using photography skills.

One woman was an elementary school teacher. She talked about using her own photos to teach her children about nature. I told her about a photography walk I had taken at an Audubon Bird Sanctuary, when I had the opportunity to observe and photograph a hawk capturing and devouring a mouse (yes, I know it sounds gross), and she understood why I felt excited and lucky about that. She said, “Wow! I would have loved to have been there and got those pictures! I would use them to teach my kids about nature.”


One of my less “gross” hawk pictures…

A woman sitting behind me was a graphic designer. I overheard her tell the instructor that she wanted to learn to take good photos to use in her designs so she didn’t have to pay for other people’s pictures. She thought it was a way to save money and improve her work.

Yet another woman was a crafter who taught knitting classes. She looked at this as just another “craft” or artistic outlet in her repetoire, and part of living a creative life.

I have written before about the relationship between my photography hobby and my writing. It now feels like an essential element of my personality and life and also a way to expand my “vision” in my writing. I think learning to observe the details through taking photos will improve my poetry and my ability to focus.

iphones have become everybody’s way of documenting their lives on social media. Can anyone image a life without digital photographs now?

So…do you think photography has become an important life skill?

{November 18, 2013}   Cursive Death

cursive writing

Childhood cursive

To keep cursive writing as part of elementary school’s curriculum or not: this story came on the radio in my car as I was driving the other day. My ears pricked up; I had actually had a draft post on this issue from July of last year that I never completed. I guess it is time.

This is one of the instances when I am proud to be from Massachusetts. Normally a liberal state, but at times…conservative. With the increasing use of computers and hand-held devices, the continued value of teaching cursive script in schools has been questioned in recent years, but the time has now come to make a decision as far as the law is concerned. Massachusetts is one of a few states that will continue to require cursive script to be taught in public school; 45 states are considering not requiring it.

The ramifications for future generations hit me personally, as I sat scribbling in my journal this morning in my own “hybrid” version of handwriting (random printed letters jumbled with cursive). It occurred to me that the generations ahead that I hope might be interested in my written ramblings, may not even be able to read what I have written.

Last year I sat at the desk of a coworker twenty years older than me. I looked at the notes she had written on stickies; some of them were difficult for me to read. Why? Because she wrote in TRUE cursive…I realized it had been so long since I  had seen capital letters written in cursive script that I had to work to process it. (Sometime in high school and college I found it faster when taking notes to use printed capitals and then switch to cursive as I write the words.) I began to experiment in my head, then on paper; I went through the alphabet mentally trying to write each capital letter in script. Guess what? There were a few I wasn’t sure I had totally right, and two I didn’t remember at all (Q and Z)! It horrified me!

I started thinking…Do they still make those preprinted, center-dotted-line pages we used to use in school to practice our cursive? I started thinking I wish I had one of my childhood school papers as a piece of artwork for the wall (I used to have beautiful writing)…I started thinking if future generations don’t learn to write it, they won’t be able to read it and won’t value it. I suppose someone will write a computer program where pages of cursive could be scanned in and translated, but…would anyone bother with the old letters and journals of a dead relative? I like reading my grandmother’s journals, but then I’m from the generation still nostalgic about antiques.

Readers, what do you think? Is learning cursive writing still important?

Plenty of stories have been written about the state of education in the United States today, about how our students are woefully lacking in knowledge about geography and history, for example.  Despite the famous quote by Edmund Burke,  “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it,” one could make a case that to succeed in today’s world, different skills are required such as technology (computer) skills (which includes the use of social media) and the most important of all — marketing.

Go ahead…do a search for webinars, podcasts and articles about how to use social media to market yourself and/or your business or how to “brand” yourself, and there will be thousands of “hits” to choose from.  It seems this will be a long-term change in necessary “life” skills, not a temporary one.  The use of social media will only become more sophisticated, and unless our youth go back to learning trades (plumbing, electrical, hairdressing), or get their education in the medical and science fields, they will need to be marketing experts in order to make the money to survive.  

My guess is that the new liberal arts education will be marketing-based.  Why not start them in grammar school?  There are plenty of children under 18 on Facebook (even though they are not supposed to be), and many parents are providing their children with cell phones for their protection.  As a result, children are learning how to use their cell phones for much more than verbally speaking to someone;  teachers aren’t busy chasing football-shaped notes in class anymore.

It would truly be helpful for children to learn multiple languages (meaning Spanish or Chinese) at a young age to compete in the global economy, but that’s not the direction in which we are moving.  I know a lot of people say forget diagramming sentences, but what the children are learning is slang and “internet” language and how to send efficient “texts”.  No need to write essays on what they did on summer vacation…they can learn to “tweet” and everyone will know what they did every day.  By the time they are teenagers, they will be accomplished digital photographers and have their “brand” set.  They will be mini-entrepreneurs, not children.

You can probably tell from my tone that I don’t like it, but it seems inevitable.  I do wonder, however, if everyone understands marketing techniques, how will they work?  Why would anyone fall for it?  If everyone is spending all their time and energy on creating their brand and trying to get attention, who will their audience be?

I saw an interview that Piers Morgan did with the Kardashian sisters wherein he asked them, “what is your talent?”  And what did Kim answer?  Marketing.

et cetera
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