This reader is living in Germany, where his son is in elementary school. He made a surprising discovery: the German system emphasizes hand mastery. This reminds me slightly of the “maker movement” in our country, which is trying to revive the practices of making, tinkering, and doing. Some maker activities rely on technology in in genius ways. The common thread is to allow students to use their hands and brains at the same time to create.

“USE OF FOUNTAIN PENS BY ELEMENTARY STUDENTS

“I am a public education administrator in the United States – New Jersey – and the father of an 8 year old. Presently I am in Germany and my son attends a German elementary school. I see great merit in using fountain pens for students. In my opinion, one of the reasons Germany produces some of the greatest products in the world is the emphasis the German school system places on “Basteln” or tinkering and other traditional activities that require care, like the use of a fountain pen. To many Americans this may seem quaint – but there is a rock solid place for “the quaint” in the earliest grades – again, in my opinion. Forming letters with a traditional tool like a fountain pen will give the young individual an intimate experience with reality – one which requires precision and care – much more than with a swipe or a push of a button.

“I strongly feel that this (and other “quaint” experiences had by students in German elementary schools translates into a more thoroughly educated student – one that will be much more creative as technology is introduced. I think American education needs to re-evaluate how we educate our youngest and see the merit in what many Americans and American educators may perceive as impractical. In Germany, I once thought it totally impractical to take 7 minutes to draw a “Pils” beer – until I tasted how delicious it was From then on I saw the wisdom in what may be seen as impractical or quaint – and saw how rich with tradition and innovation German society is – and American educators would be well advised to take a good look.”

David Di Gregorio, Father of an 8 year old

Supervisor of Library Media Services