Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Death of Asparagus?

 Two years ago, my husband gave me a big wooden book for my birthday.  Inside that book was the first letter.  

Were you ever fortunate enough to receive a letter that told you everything wonderful about you?  A letter that affirmed the unaffirmed, that shined light into shadows, that revealed the very soul of the writer?  That's what I got for my fifty-first birthday.

Since then that big wooden book (which is actually a keepsake box) has received more ephemera - more letters from my husband, crayoned cards from my children, a collection of letters and cards to my parents that my mother found after my father's death, and the wedding invitation of our son.  All of these letters tell stories about who we are, or were, at the time of their writing.  There is life in the handwriting on the envelopes, and (sometimes) in the tears shed while writing them.

Te@chthought Challenge Question:

Nov 9 What is one way you could develop the Attitude of Gratitude in your classroom or school? Try it out and let us know how it went in a couple of weeks.

There is a giant movement toward teaching keyboarding to students -- so much so that some districts are moving away from the teaching of cursive handwriting.  Recently while proctoring the PSATs, I realized how many high school students have never developed the skill -- and weren't able to place their name in the "signature" block after writing the affirmation statement required by the exam.
Handwriting is a lost art.  The rise of computers, emails and texts has taken the place of calm, connected, thoughtful written communication.  And with that change, the art of the handwritten note is slowly becoming extinct.

When I was a kid, my father used to tell my sister and I that we should eat asparagus while we had the chance.  "It's going to be extinct, soon!"  he'd say, hoping we'd snatch the opportunity and down the spears in front of us.  We both felt that the impending demise of asparagus could not come fast enough for our tastes.  For many people, especially kids, writing is viewed with a similar dissatisfaction.  And writing thank you notes is even more torturous.

Without knowing the November prompts for this month's challenge, I recently purchased two books:
The Art of the Handwritten Note and Living Life as a Thank You.  Both celebrate the art of taking time to be appreciative, to be thankful, and to let the people you care about know how you feel.  What is really amazing about this process is the universal feelings of goodness that comes from the entire process of verbalizing (in words or writing) your thoughts.

A couple of weeks ago, Art Drescher spoke to my class.  Several students wrote notes, spontaneously, which I have packed up to mail off to him tomorrow.  One, in particular, started with the words "I cannot express to you how truly grateful I am to have seen your presentation.  It motivated me to dig into my family's military history....."  The letter went on to outline how the presentation prompted the student into a discussion at home, along with many details about the servicemen in her family.  This simple letter, this letter of gratitude, will bless Art and his traveling slideshow in unimaginable ways.

My students work hard at identifying the metacognitive impact of their projects and interactions in my classroom.  This month, we're going to engage in some handwriting -- on beautiful paper -- without choosing fonts or using keyboards.  We're going to let handwriting speak for us, and share that thought with someone special.

 It might start a trend that will save the handwritten note from extinction.

After all,  the good Lord knows I'm willing to let go of asparagus.