Friday, August 26, 2016

Symbolic Communication

We had our first tests this week and I can already tell we are going to have handwriting issues with some of the kids! This is from October 11, 2012.
Ethnic stereotyping is frowned upon in this politically correct culture and in most cases, I would agree with the condemnation. Still, I felt compelled to ask the following question  last week in my eighth period Gospels class:
"Why is it that every Asian girl I have in class has beautiful handwriting?"

I don't think that's an offensive generalization- in fact, I think it's complimentary. This was the general response which I think holds water in its logic: 
it's because Asian young ladies learn to write by making the symbols in their native languages which are very precise in nature and this training just carries over into English. 
When I say Asian in this context, I mean young ladies from China and South Korea. The six female students who fall into this category during my final class of the day- Grace, Angela, Sophie, Tina, Hyungi, Jasmine- all make their English letters with great clarity and in most cases, superior to their American counterparts who have been practicing since they were four. This also applies to Minna, who is American by birth, and has exquisite penmanship, but her Chinese parents have made sure she was trained in the symbols of their homeland. (I brought up the subject of this blog in class today and several American students had interesting suggestions why their own writing is interesting, to put it kindly. One, Christina, shared how an elementary teacher read to them while they practiced writing and she rushed through her assignments so she could listen. Christina is the ultimate free thinker; I could see this happening.) 

As we kicked this around eighth period this afternoon, it was brought up that cursive writing is no longer taught in American schools, a shocker to me. Truthfully, I only use cursive English with two words: my first name and my last name on checks. I print everything and only in all caps. And it's not culturally emphasized that boys write legibly in our country. (Point of reference: most of my Asian male students do not have good penmanship skills either.) In basketball, we make a big deal of carry over from drills to playing. I think these young ladies do that with the marks they make on their papers. Their childhood training carries over into their second language. Many can quote Proverbs 22 and verse 6:
Train a child in the way he should go,    and when he is old he will not turn from it.
In terms of relevance, we ought to change he to she in this light but I think it goes back to carry over. If we learn to love when we are a child and if we learn to tell the truth when we are a child and if we honor God when we are a child, that training will stick with  us. I realize we all know exceptions to that rule just like I could find a girl from China or South Korea whose English markings are close to Zak's, the young man in that eighth period who would receive the lowest penmanship grade if we still gave those antiquated ratings. But the good things we learn when we are small should relate to new skills and situations we encounter as we grow and mature. The picture at the top of this page is the Chinese symbol for beauty. I wish I could recognize it without a Google translation but I can't. I do know this: my life is enriched by these international students who travel around the world to sit in our classrooms. And maybe it's reciprocal. After I preached Charlotte's and Tyler's wedding in class on Friday, a young lady from Korea and a young lady from China both asked if I would preach their weddings in their homelands when the time was right. Although I cannot speak Chinese or Korean, I understand the symbolism of the question they proposed to me, their America instructor. And that's beautiful in any language.

Applicable quote of the day, # 1:

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