Friday, 30 January 2015

The Second " R "

Reading, 'Riting and  'Rithmetic  - they make up the basic three " Rs "  which form the foundation of modern education.  That was the makeup of my English language colonial education in the 1950s as well as the beginning of my training as a school teacher during the latter half of the 1960s.

Just the other day, the spouse and I were ruminating about the approaching demise of one signifier of our self as an individual :  writing - our handwriting!

This one .............

...... belongs to her.

This quaint handwriting  ........

.... was done by this quaint little nerd.

Oh dear, I am noticing signs of rebellion.


Nowadays we appreciate and take pride in all things that are hand made and we are willing to dig deep into our pockets for items made by human hands!

But more and more we are losing the one art that can be created only by us - our handwriting. Just think, there are millions of us (those who were lucky enough to go to school) able to scribble and identify themselves by their handwriting - each one distinct and unique, just like our fingerprints.
However, we now take to the keyboard and indicate ourselves less and less by our handwriting ( and signature) - but by passwords, codes and pin numbers.  Welcome to the digitised world!

We don't write letters anymore.  We do not keep envelopes in the house and neither do we buy stamps.  We only send e-mails!

Part of my primary school education included subjects like "Writing" and that was included as an examination subject.

A 'Writing' Examination - 1957, PPES.

'Letter Writing' was always part of the English Language Examination.

'Letter Writing' for a Primary Six examination, 1957, PPES

A few days ago, I received a comment - a very touching note - from Kalsom Taib -  from my cohort group, so to speak.

Kalsom, I hope the above images will bring a big smile to your face - and to remind you of our good (and at that time it seemed horrible), old days.

So, I thought I'd like to sit down and write you a letter - to overlay an electronic page with a letter written with a fountain pen  -  to thank you for the content and kindness in your message.

We, Kalsom and I,  are blessed to be able to observe and live the present life we have.  Materially and technically we have gained so much.  But the price we pay is too awful - at times - to bear.

Here's my 'Dictation' Examination - ideas still as valid - if not even more today - as  58 years ago.

The greatest honour is the honour which men give to you in their hearts. 

A song we heard on the radio in our kampung house in 1954/1955.


Anonymous said...

Dear Puan,

Your sweet post reminds me of my first year in architecture in the late seventies. We had to write the alphabets umpteen times on A1 size paper placed on huge timber drawing boards till the letters were perfectly straight, well formed, clear and to the satisfaction of perfectionist studio masters. The grueling writing exercises (more like penance then) were executed using pencils which had to be continuously sharpened in a particular manner. It was torture then but the memory brings a smile whenever I think of it now. The students these days have it really easy with their laptops and 3-d presentations. Hajah Ros

Wan F said...

Pn. AsH,
There was another writing excercise I had to endure back then in school of my days, having to write lines as a form of punishment. I can't remember exactly how many hundreds of 'I must not talk in class' have I written. But I was as talkative as ever. Bless our teachers....

Kalsom Taib said...

Salam Maznoor,
Thank you so much for your response. I was thrilled to receive it as I was not sure whether it will get to you. I am not as adept as you are using the computer- maklumlah as I belong to the letter writing generation. I had to struggle to "connect" to you. Some of your stories really touched my heart and I can really relate to them. I grew up in a kampung but went to an English school (the foresight of my parents), the convent. Please let me know of your next visit to Kuala Lumpur as I would like to meet up with both of you. You know after my Senior Cambridge, I did a short course on shorthand and typing so was able to graduate from handwritten letters to typing them. Remember every time there was a mistake we either had to retype the letters or use a blanco (correction pen). What a mess. Nothing like a handwritten letter. You know I still keep the letters my boyfriend (now my husband) sent me in the sixties. Today we only receive sms and after sometime the messages are deleted.

anak si-hamid said...

Apologies for these belated replies.

1. Thank you Hajah Ros for your kind comment and a very revealing aspect of learning - then and now. Your description of your 'gruelling' exercise says a lot about the need for perseverance and excellence - two aspects of learning and doing that are sadly lacking today.

2. Dear Wan F, many thanks for your comment and reminding me about the 'fun' of writing lines. If I had been your teacher - you would be standing on the chair during recess time!!!!

3. Dear Kalsom, Bravo to you for a successful attempt at connecting to AsH, which I appreciate so very much. Like you I started on Typing and Shorthand after the Senior Cambridge but it's hard to concentrate when there's a dishy looking 17 year-old boy sitting next to you.

As for handwritten love letters - it's so touching to know how you keep yours. I still do.

Thank you to all my lovely ladies for reminding me of happy days.