Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 2: Physiology & the Push for Conformity

     Throughout history, the writing process seems to have been studied with an eye to standardizing the practice. This ineffective attempt to teach our calling as a skill is what feeds the exhaustion many kids claim in writing "How I Spent My Summer Vacation."
     "No Child Left Behind" is just the latest in a push to drill "the basics" into children. The only magical thinking allowed is academically, not for silly children who would rather be in physical education than writing, for the most part.
    Consider an "Essay on the Physiology of Writing" from 1894 by Emile Javal at

    The Commission, without neglecting the questions of lighting, school furniture, typography of school books, adopted the formula of George Sand that I had brought to light, and came to this conclusion : that if the Administration adopts vertical writing for young children, the principal cause of nearsightedness will have disappeared.
     The following is the text of the report: "The Commission think that great progress will be made by exacting, according to Mme. G. Sand's formula, vertical writing on straight paper, the body erect. Thus both scoliosis and myopia will be avoided together."

   This "formula" for success, along with perfect eyesight, is only one of many that fail to encourage writing in any form.
     No wonder so many of us grow up as writers who avoid the act of writing. (By the way, this Library of Congress book is entertaining, even though it's  not meant to be.)

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