Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Points of view about this and that.

Back in the Northwest of England, a friend has been expressing concern about whether she can get out to her poetry group meeting this evening because of snow. Our daughter has sent photos of the view from her classroom window - a good two inches of snow. However, the school has stayed open, unlike many in the UK when snow falls.

Here the cloud has moved in and rain is forecast. In the Froiz supermarket I overheard conversations about a storm on its way. Well, I reckon that’s Spring over and done with and we are perhaps back to Winter. Opinions vary, of course. It’s still showing 10 to 12 degrees on the various temperature gauges so it’s not really wintery.

On Saturday, walking along in the sunshine I heard a small boy on a scooter comment on the heat to his mother: ¡Qué calor hace aquí! She replied that it was beach weather: ¡Para ir a la playa! Just a little further along the road we came across a lady all muffled up in her winter coat, a big, think scarf round her neck and a woolly hat with pompom! She was clearly ready for the snowstorm! Just in the wrong place. But I suppose that if you have gone out and bought a wooly hat and scarf set, you really feel you should get some wear put of it before summer arrives. Rather like English girls shivering in sundresses on a summer’s day when the temperature struggles to reach the 19 degrees we had here in Vigo the other afternoon!

In Iceland, where they have volcanoes and hot geysers but presumably some cold weather in the winter, it’s not the weather they worry about. One of their big concerns I read about is the disappearance of their language. Theirs is apparently one of the few languages to try to insist on using their own words for information technology but they are fighting a losing battle, especially amongst the young. Young Icelanders, like young people everywhere, enjoy computer games. These exist in Icelandic but it is often easier for youngsters to download the English version onto their iPhones and iPads and tablets. Besides they often play against other gamesters all over the world and the international language is English. An odd consequence of this is some youngsters are not really literate and competent in Icelandic or in English. Here’s a link to an article about it.

Such are the consequences of modern technology.

Back in the UK experts are once again complaining that children are being introduced to technology too soon. “An overuse of touchscreen phones and tablets is preventing children’s finger muscles from developing sufficiently to enable them to hold a pencil correctly, they say. “Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago,” said Sally Payne, head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust. “Now, children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not be able to hold it because they don’t have the fundamental movement skills. “To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers,” she added. “Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills.”

Some of this is because tiny tots are given phones and tablets to play with at an age when they should be stacking bricks and playing with shape-sorters and threading large beads on strings - developing dexterity in other words instead of learning how to use a touch pad.

Of course there are some who argue that children no longer need to be able to write as they will be able to do everything on a keyboard. But how sad that would be! How would the artists of the future learn the fine motor skills to be able to draw properly? What about the poets who feel a direct connection from the brain to the pencil?

And what about the handwriting experts? No more would they be able to analyse someone’s character and personality according to their handwriting style. I don’t think the font you use on your computer really says a great deal about what sorts of person you are. Unless, that is , you type in BOLD all the time.

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