Wednesday, March 21

English Girls Win Letter-Writing Competition

Photo: Hemel Today
ITEM: Girls show off writing skills in letter competition

How delightful! The more cynical part of me wants to gripe, yes, of course this would only happen in the U.K. and project a worst-case scenario for an American letter-writing competition: "Winners of the best-looking H have been announced. NY, CT, and NH vie to dominate the alphabet; AL and TN have been eliminated from future rounds."

Where does my bitterness come from? It's not that I believe it's inherently better to cleave to the past. Of course I believe penmanship and grammar should be celebrated throughout the elementary track, but I acknowledge those are my personal convictions. But that sets up a false argument: claiming we reject the past sets up the false dichotomy that we necessarily embrace the future, and this isn't so. Texting friends during class, during family meals, and while driving is only indulging in the fruits of advanced tech, not using these tools to build a better world.

Because I believe that's what penmanship and correspondence do: they instill a personal discipline and nurture a clarity of thought that serves one across many areas of one's life. It's one thing to have neat handwriting, but along with this comes the ability to focus on a goal and steadily work toward it regardless of the arduous passage of time.

Anyway. What were the standards for this contest? These 11y.o. English girls demonstrated an ability to address a topic (the Olympics) and expound upon what they would say to an Olympian athlete. A fun and relevant little creative exercise. Why couldn't the same exercise be implemented Stateside, where students write to and about their favorite celebrities? (Then again, who says it isn't?)

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