On October 11, the Washington Post carried an article called “The Handwriting on the Wall.” The main points were the following:
- US students no longer get much instruction on handwriting (and therefore struggle to read and write it) because the curriculum is packed with other priorities.
- Scholars who study original documents say the demise of handwriting will diminish the power and accuracy of future historical research.
- The neurological processes that direct thought, through fingers, into written symbols is a highly sophisticated one.
The article goes on to say that “several academic studies have found that good handwriting skills at a young age can help children express their thoughts better-a lifelong benefit.”
I, for one, am in favor of teaching both cursive writing and proper keyboard skills. Having watched students try to re-read their own writing with difficulty, whether cursive or print, and having watched students “hunt and peck” on a keyboard, I think the problem all comes down to being in a hurry – too much of a hurry to write carefully or to practice typing. Consequently, we pay for it the rest of our lives.
If you are reading this, take a few short seconds next time you have to pick up a pen or pencil to do it thoughtfully. Perhaps a historian will find your “John Hancock” later and make some assumptions about our culture. Let’s hope the historian makes the right ones.