Competence Handwriting

The acquisition of handwriting as a competence has been important for centuries. In primary schools this technique is exercised as a foundation for the performance in other cultural techniques like language writing and even calculus. Therefore, it has been beneficial to make sure children acquire basic competences in handwriting. This has not changed much, although the time devoted to perfection of the technique has been reduced over generations. We still have some memories of people who have made the handwriting or the pencils used a case of distinction. At the enlightenment period a lot of authors drafted their thoughts and manuscripts in handwriting and our museums or biographies are proud to show off handwriting of authors, artists or composers. In some of those we are able to retrieve the thought process behind the writing. The editing, crossing out, adding sentences or correcting words are traces to dive deeper into these creative processes.
Currently, we are less sure, whether in the age of AI we should still rely much on this old technique of handwriting. If we just treat it as one of many competences to be or become creative yourself, we are on the right track. The PISA studies by OECD include problem-solving as a crucial competence. Handwriting or drafting first steps of a solution might still be useful. A handwritten sketch of a solution might guide the elaboration of the more encompassing solution.
Another interesting feature of handwriting is the cross-cultural element of it. We feel easily compassion for a handwritten document. The psychomotor competence of handwriting is fascinating across continents. It has distinguished us from other species as well. The evolutionary steps are important elements of a learning process. Nostalgic feelings about handwriting do not help anybody, but children are well-advised to still keep an eye on their handwriting competence as part of or first step in problem solving, even if it is just to formulate the question they are interested in.


For some societies and cities it is a continuous question of how much resources we should invest in infrastructure. Access to funding is a major concern. The calculation of the viability of the project needs careful examination and evaluation. Societies have very different kinds of preferences and, interestingly, about time horizons for their deliberations.

There are examples that have been built to last a century and lasted 2000 years. Other worst scenario examples are built for just one World Expo and torn down afterwards. The Eiffel tower is such an example of the latter kind, but it lasted longer than 100 years by now. We should be thinking more about time horizons as it remains an often overlooked part of investment in infrastructure. The oldest city in Germany has many buildings from the Roman occupation that still characterize the city’s architecture. This remains an important economic factor for the city of Trier as an attractive location for tourists throughout the year. Only wars or negligence may cause severe deterioration if infrastructure has been built with an emphasis on its lasting value. The narrow-minded investment in downhill skiing like in the Swiss Alps is at best expected to last 20 years. For trees to grow there again it will take 50+ years. Sustainable investment will be viable and vital in many respects. High interest rates force us to recalibrate our societal and private s again. Taking into account a longer time frame for investment we indirectly build infrastructure that should last longer. Moving beyond short-termism is necessary, particularly in the field of investment in infrastructure.

Trier 2023-12

More Design

How about a subject like Design in school. Rather than the same old boring teaching manuals in art, music, economics or social science, young learners have always been attracted to making things by themselves. The theoretical context is then coming to the subjects and objects more naturally. Economics as market design, design social security for platform workers, sound or furniture design could bring in the creative potential of the learners. Lessons learned through subsequent applications or realizations of prototypes allows the link of theory and practice. A school garden would even be a fantastic cross-discipline learning opportunity.

The most difficult part is probably to find competent coaches to guide the learners exploring and designing. The world is not perfect, so why should learners not be confronted with imperfections in learning set-ups. The most fun part in science is when experiments go wrong, hopefully not too badly though. Catching learners by their curiosity is very likely to get them hooked on more thorny scientific questions as well. Across Europe holidays are coming to an end and millions of pupils go back to their benches and rigid curricula. We should really care more about the next generation.

Vitra Design Exhibition and Campus 2023

Calendar Time

We all use calendars to organize our time almost unconsciously. This is helpful to organize and synchronize our time together. Working time, family and individual time tend to use the same time structure to facilitate community. Work arrangements depend a lot on a common method to structure time. The work-life balance hinges a lot on synchronization of calendars and joint time slots. Towards the end of the annual vacation period in Europe the annualized change of calendars is still common practice despite most people going digital. Annual overviews allow to allocate and potentially synchronize calendars for major events or periods (next break, period devoted to learning, family planning etc.). A cleavage that differentiated Europe in the analogous times was that some countries like Germany use(d) chronological calendars running from 1st of January until 31st of December and counting calendar weeks (1-52). Many other countries have long ago moved on to “functionalist” calendars running based on the school year from 1st of September to 31st of August each year. Different planning horizons appear to be the obvious outcome. Whereas the former might focus on the planning of the end of the calendar year 2023, the latter functionalist calendars begin to structure the new year-long period 2023-24 including the next summer break towards the end of the next schooling year.
In France you start end of August 2023 to plan ahead until end of August 2024. This comprises the Olympic games in Paris 2024. Don’t worry, most tickets are sold out already and attributed through lotteries. When people in Germany start to buy calendars for 2024 and organize a printed calendar, this occurs traditionally around Christmas time and New Year’s celebrations.
Specific professions follow their own calendar time. Academic years or accounting years may well differ from the other annualised organisation of time through calendars. Of course, religions have established their own calendars just as migrating birds or French revolutionaries in the 18th century. Meteorological calendars or sensor-based structuring of annual sequences of seasons like in trees, plants or insects add to the impression of the existence of multiple clocks.
A de-synchronisation of these multiple calendars increases the need to coordinate societies within or society and the economy, religion or ecology. I liked my printed calendars over the years. Now I shall print different versions for different countries and functions. I still wonder, if my life got easier or more complex. Probably, it has only become easier to organise complexity and diversity. Clock 6 video

Design Start-up

Es war wieder Designmesse. Klein, aber fein, in Berlin in den KantGaragen. Die Location weckt schon Hoffnung auf Experimentelles, Garagenhaftes, Handwerkliches. Das bringt Abwechslung in die sonstige, glitzernde Shoppingwelt. Das renovierte und entgiftete Parkhaus erlaubt einen Rundgang über mehrere Etagen, vorbei an Galerien und Ständen von DesignerInnen. Es macht sich eine anregende Brise von erfrischenden Ideen breit. Von Design im Raum mit Leuchten und Möbeln über Design von Mode und Schmuck lässt sich viel Schickes finden. Blickfang, samt Blickfang Akademie haben es geschafft, die Mini-messe in den KantGaragen zu etablieren. Es kann sogar Eintritt verlangt werden. Eine weitere Begleitung der Neuen auf dem Markt wird oft nötig sein, denn selbst gute Innovationen sind meistens keine Selbstläufer. Konkurrenz belebt nicht nur das Geschäft, es bleibt meist auch ein Verdrängungsprozess.
Die großen, vielfach schließenden Kaufhäuser in den Innenstädten spüren besonders die Konkurrenz der individualisierenden DesignerInnen mit ihren einzigartig anmutenden Realisationen. Singuläre Kauferlebnisse auf solchen Messen, in stilvollem Ambiente, selbst in einem alten Parkhaus sind, allem Anschein nach, ein Erfolgsrezept. Start-up statt Close-down schafft viele erfüllende Arbeitsplätze. Gute Arbeit wird nicht aussterben, sondern durchstarten.


Allem Neuen wohnt ein Zauber inne. Das passende Zitat “Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne” von Hermann Hesse ist knapp kommentiert auf Wikipedia zu finden. Diese literarische Einleitung beschreibt recht gut, welche Verzückung bei start-ups zuweilen präsent ist. Nicht nur im Prozess des Gründens, sondern auch in den Kontakten mit Investoren und der ganzen Szene herrscht eine gewisse Extase vor. (Illustration W. Kandinsky 1923 Fröhlicher Aufstieg) Gut so, wenn das Start-up zu Beginn bereits eine Qual ist, Hände weg davon. Es wird oft nur schlimmer im weiteren Verlauf und Lebensverlauf. Selbst für enthusiatisch gestartete Unternehmende kommt allzu oft eine Ernüchterung, vielleicht sogar Sackgassen. Einen knappen Überblick bietet die Webseite “Deutsche Startups” oder “startbase“. Die großen Pleiten à la WIRECARD etc. lassen wir mal beiseite. Das kommentieren die Skandalmedien ausreichend, weil Quotenbringer. Mir geht es um die vielen kleinen zauberhaften Anfänge und persönlichen Lernkurven der Beteiligten. Julian Leitloff & Caspar Schlenk (Keinhorn) haben in ihrem Büchlein ein recht schonungsloses Bild gezeichnet, was es wirklich heisst, ein Start-up zu gründen. Vor allem braucht es ein dickes Fell und einen fast unbeugsamen Willen ständig “offen sein für Neues” und Lernbereitschaft.
Neben den biografischen Details der Gründenden bietet das eckige Büchlein aber auch einen Ausblick auf das Kompetenzspektrum für “Start-ups” und dann später hoffentlich “Grown-ups”. Verstreut über das Buch lassen sich Kompetenzen identifizieren: Buisiness Plan, Erstellen und Überarbeiten, Design Thinking, 3-D Druck, Buchhaltung, Marketing, Personal/Talent Management, Webpage Design und Interaktion über Social Media, Responsibility sowie Finanzen und Investmentkalkulus. Natürlich findet das alles im Team und dann im HomeOffice oder der Garage/Keller statt. Ist ne ganz schöne Packung und bitte nicht die “Deadlines” verpassen.

Das alles liest sich in dem Büchlein unterhaltsam und ohne Pathos der einen oder anderen Art. Aufgrund meiner soziologischen Forschungtradition war mir der Einstieg über das “Phänomen … Survivorship-Bias” (S.9) bedeutsam. Der Überlebendenbias besagt, dass wir meistens nur die Geschichten der Überlebenden (der Titanic) kennen, aber nicht die Geschichten der vielen hundert Ertrunkenen. Eine solche wird in dem Büchlein von den Gründenden erzählt, aber mit einem anderen Happy-End. Einmal Schiffbruch, hoffentlich kein Problem, Aufstehen und ein traumhaftes neues Schiff bauen ist das, was später einmal zählt.

Auszug aus dem Buch von Julian Leitloff & Caspar Schlenk (Keinhorn) S.12.