Forgotten skills

Early last month, one of the bloggers which I read regularly, Sue Vincent, had written a post called “Stick it,” where a story about needing a cane (walking stick) moved to a discussion about map-reading versus using sat-nav (better known as GPS in the States), and the lost art of lower-technology items.

Many times on my blog, I have mentioned my somewhat old-fashioned ideals. Thinking about Sue’s post made me want to consider a few points from her questions. (Better seven weeks later than never!)

The last few weeks, I have been doing quite a bit of navigating, to and from Menomonie, within Menomonie, and to and from Saint Paul, Minnesota. I admit that I did use sat-nav to find my way around to my destination in Saint Paul, but for everything else over the weekend, I simply used a map (granted, Google Maps rather than the old-style origami sheet), my previous knowledge of the area, and good directional sense (and on Saturday, good conversations with a friend from Saint Paul).

The route is not that difficult, but I would rather read a map and try to find the place on a map first before relying on turn-by-turn directions from GPS. Part of the fun of travel is getting lost, and I have no problems with asking for directions. I only need directions once to a place, especially after I have driven there myself. Yay–the perks of having a spatially and numerically oriented mind!

As Sue said, “its only possible benefit, as far as I am concerned, is to find the actual address you are heading for in a strange town.” Well, once I have been there once or twice, it’s no longer a strange town! And most frequently, I have a limited number of destinations within any place, unless it is small enough that I could wander lost for a little while and still have plenty of time to spare.

Later in the post, she asked, “How many people actually pick up a pen and write a letter?” Although I don’t write letters very often, I have realized how nice of a gesture it is to write thank-you notes to friends and family for their nice gifts and deeds. Unfortunately, I will often fail to write them in a timely fashion, but just as I said earlier in the post, better late than never. This is a skill which I intend to continue to use, and improve my timeliness.

In a post at the beginning of this year, I mentioned a time when I wrote letters to my favorite radio hosts. The letters were in manuscript, but the satisfaction of getting a hand-written letter from a good friend is something that can’t be replicated with an e-mail or a text message. Even if the text would say EXACTLY the same thing, there is a charm of hand-writing that makes (at least) me strongly prefer the handwritten note.

And as for memory, I agree that having the ease of auto-dial on cell phones and Facebook reminders has made us seemingly unable to remember others’ phone numbers and birthdays. I wonder if hand-writing them somewhere would improve memory of them? I currently use both my technology, as well as hand-written pages in my journal, to write down schedules and other logistics.

I’ve read some other posts exploring the effectiveness of taking notes with pen and paper versus on the computer, and it is interesting to consider.

The art of conversation that Sue mentioned is another topic for another day, although I have definitely harped on that in my blog before!

Before this post signs off, I wanted to give an image of one more lost skill. I did mention manuscript writing beforehand, so I should say that I still (barely) remember how to write more than just my own name in cursive! However, I am not very good at it since I have not regularly used it since seventh or eighth grade!



Bloggiversary: 2 days.

NABC: 8 days.

Menomonie: 16 days.

Stout teaching starts: 42 days.

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5 thoughts on “Forgotten skills

  1. I spent years wanting to emulate my mother’s beautiful handwriting… these days I scrawl notes for myself, but can still produce decent script when it is for others.
    “Part of the fun of travel is getting lost…” I wholeheartedly agree with you on this 🙂 Even though I never get lost. Only slightly misplaced 😉


    • Good point about slightly misplaced, Sue. It is hard to get lost, as most of the time you can retrace your steps.

      Still, it’s fun anyway… particularly when Chet Baker sings about getting “lost.”


  2. Wow Noah, this blog could start quite the conversation about cursive penmanship. I have mixed feelings, knowing that people will use it very little in their future, ask your brother in law, but, still feel it serves other purposes in a child’s education. Even though it is still taught in our elementary schools, students do not continue to use it throughout school, like when taking notes, spelling tests or essays. As the saying goes “Practice makes perfect” or “Use it or lose it”.
    Congratulations on your new job and move. We are happy for you.


    • Thanks, Cyndi! After reading the blog post again which inspired this post, and doing a little reflection, I think I want to try and revive my usage of cursive writing. I’ve always liked writing, and I don’t know why I moved away from cursive.


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