The New York Times published an interesting article about handwriting, how it’s not really a part of the education curriculum anymore and exploring evidence that suggests this development might not be a good thing. I’m not surprised that handwriting has been dropped from schools, nor at the thinking that handwriting is no longer a necessary skill set given our transition to computers and keyboards.
I have never been a big fan of handwriting. I was horrible at penmanship in school and did not have the greatest experience studying it. My issue was probably a combination of lack of natural skill (too tightly wound, physically, I think) and a horrible teacher. Her name was Mrs. Henley and she wore these outrageous turquoise rings. This was in a small town in Broken Arrow, OK. Mrs. Henley was eccentric–but not only that, she was mean. I remember having to stare at those hideous rings on her aged fingers as she marked up and criticized my handwriting. I tried. I really did, but I just never got any better.
Yet, evidence that suggests handwriting helps us learn makes sense to me. I always learned subjects by writing, and not just taking notes but also transcribing pages from text books. It definitely helped me to remember specific details about what I’d read.
I don’t write by hand much anymore. I still don’t enjoy it. But I often find myself searching for a way to better organize my thoughts on the computer. I will print things out, simply to help myself focus.
As writing in longhand becomes less and less of a necessity, and as we try to rid ourselves more and more of a bad paper habit, how do we convince people to hold on to a dying skill like handwriting: “It’s good for you, so keep doing it”? It’s a challenging idea. Does it need to evolve into digital writing? Maybe our brains will rewire and the same thing will happen as we type.
I’m curious to find out what other people think. Should we put penmanship back into our curriculums and every day life?