Monthly Musing – February 2016 – New and Old

I met up with a friend recently and as is usually the case with Mums, our conversation turned to our children. Our eldest children are both studying for A levels so we had an enjoyable time comparing experiences with exam stress, sixth form colleges and subject choices.

My friend’s son has chosen a maths and science route, much to the pleasure of my friend’s husband as he works in that field and is keen for the tradition to be continued. However, along with the maths and science, computer technology is also being studied, and there is a growing conflict between “traditional” and “modern” ways to get the same results. My friend is worried that she is going to be caught in the middle of a dispute between a teenager intent on moving with the times and a husband who believes that there is still much to value in the “old” methods.

In the end, it will of course work out, but it does give pause for thought. Are the old ways better? Should we abandon the traditional for the modern? No farmer would choose to go back to a horse and plough when a tractor can do the work in much less time – but are we losing our sense of purpose and history if we concentrate on how technology can do things faster and more efficiently and leave the old ways behind?

My view is that in many cases, the one can help the other. I’m a hand-knitter (you may have noticed! 🙂 ) and have no desire to swap my needles for a machine – but I do like modern circular needles with their smooth joints, flexible cables and variety of needle tips for any knitting circumstances. The needles that I inherited from my Mum and my Nan seem quite old-fashioned now in terms of their construction and although I do still use them from time to time, I much prefer my modern ones, and I think my Mum and Nan would too. For me, traditional hand-knitting combined with modern needles works perfectly, and if it wasn’t for the progress in technology and machinery then these needles couldn’t be made.

I suspect that in my friend’s case, the traditional skills that her husband learnt will be built upon by her son and the result will be something the same but different. Traditional and modern – a bridge is a bridge, after all, but the style and construction changes and improves over time. Without the opportunity to do this, perhaps we would never have seen any tractors in our fields. Would we be the poorer for this? Maybe – or maybe not. It’s one of those unanswerable questions, but I think what we can say is that combining both old and new can often bring forth something better, which abandoning one for the other could never do. Progress isn’t all bad.

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5 Responses

  1. Lorraine says:

    So beautifully worded, I totally agree. Happy knitting!I don't know where I would be without my 'circulars' but still love my 'straights'. L

  2. Amy at love made my home says:

    I agree. It is so easy not to do new things because you think that the old ways are better, and sometimes they are, but it isn't a blanket thing is it. I like to chop very large amounts in my food processor, but if I an just preparing a normal meal I use a board and a good sharp knife, sometimes the modern, sometimes the traditional. Both good in different ways for different reasons. A very thoughtful and lovely post! xx

  3. sustainablemum says:

    Progress isn't bad at all, I agree. Sometimes the old ways do seem better but we are viewing them through a 'modern' eye which can be rose tinted at times. I also like the idea of melding together the old and the new to make something even better.

  4. Perpetua says:

    An interesting post. I'm inclined to agree with you that a mixture of old and new can often be best. I too love my modern circular needles and am grateful for them as I'm useless with DPNs.

  5. Leanne says:

    This post has given me real pause to thought. I'm all for moving with the times, although I'm very behind them! My eldest jokes I'm from the quill and ink school of learning. I guess we are lucky enough to have the best if both worlds if we choose to combine past and present ways of learning and doing for maximum outcomes. Tho is a lovely thought provoking post. Cheers for that.
    Leanne xx

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