MemryStax comes from the imagination of William "BT" Hathaway, a funeral director from New England who has always had a passion for melding technology, with reality, via practical design. He can be reached directly via email: bt (at) memrystax.com
Computers and keyboards have a certain efficiency about them, and we would not want to deny our children fluid access to the unimaginable wealth of information accumulated on the internet. Yet, the mind itself does not program in a digital, instantaneous way. Therefore we must respect the complex, subtle and sometimes pedantic training needed to bring young minds into concert and coordination with knowledge, expression and learning. Handwriting it seems, has many long term benefits. So allowing digiphilia to overwhelm the patient training of our children, youth and young adults seems a shortsighted pilferage of a well educated and creative society.
Which is not to say that computers cannot or should not aid us along the way, just to remind us that newness does not always go hand in hand with rightness; and that fastness rarely leads to effective final outcomes in human affairs.
Penned by BT Hathaway, September 26, 2016
Designing and building MemryStax has exposed me to the persistent educational debate over how much time and effort we should have our children apply to the various forms of word expression available in the current day. I don't see any controversy over children learning to print individual letter forms, yet cursive has gotten pushed aside in a variety of assessment models because many seem to presume that the keyboard has and will predominate as the primary tool of expression.
"Digital expedience uber alles," has become the implicit battle cry among the digiphilic. "Why consume time learning to write longhand, when computers can hurry composition along," they seem to say. Except wisdom passed down through many cultures over thousands of years, tells us over and over again that the quick and easy path can often prove the undoing of a person, a relationship, even a culture. We need to look more carefully at the choices made, and the methods used to develop our youth. In fact, isn't it possible, even likely, that letting computers and computer-centric methods run rampant, will lead to far less fruitful societal outcomes for the generations to come?
Yet in this world of extreme and extremist responses to every controversy and debate, I do not want to champion the next anti-digital crusade. Instead, we can and should define a middle ground upon which to base future plans. Computers are wondrous in their own way, yet so is a napkin and a ball point, or fine paper, a brush, and loose ink. They all together provide a richness of expressive opportunity which one alone will never fulfill.
So how dow you define a middle? We humans tend to have a hard time doing this. We tend to attach ourselves to opposites, rather than looking for a third and often more fruitful way.
I think you begin with a word, even if it's a newly constructed word, which can serve as the proverbial stake in the ground which marks the starting point of a new adventure, or perhaps think of this word as the corner stake of a new construct, which will eventually flow from the efforts of many. Here is my humble suggestion...
We describe human eating as omnivorous--consuming food from a wide range of plants and animals--in order to meet our nutritional and energy needs. So what happens if we think of writing as a new "omni", a combined mastery of the many tools and techniques now available to us for expressing words, such that we end up with a rich and multi-faceted capacity--rather than becoming dependent on one predominant method? I chose for the middle of this new word, the Greek "graph" for "write", and the final "ous" comes in to convey a sense of fulness or completeness. Therefore, omnigraphorous--my conceptual benchmark for a new way to think about learning and teaching ourselves to write.
Penned by BT Hathaway, September 28, 2016