Posted in Stories

Handwriting, a Lost Art, or Victim of Technology and Common Core Standards

I have never been proud of my handwriting, I thank Bic Cristal for that. Do you remember learning to write? The endless cursive letters along wide-spaced, blue, and red lines. Who could forget the top, middle, or bottom-line rules?

Handwriting remains an important skill; handwriting and reading are interrelated. The ability to write by hand not only improves motor skills but also the ability to better generate ideas and retain information. What we write and how we write matters.

Technology seems to have ruined our handwriting ability and by default made us “dumb.” Ok, maybe not dumb, but clearly less capable. The age of mobile devices has left us unable to jot down the simplest of notes or do math in our heads (thanks Steve). A third of us can’t even read our own writing, let alone anyone else’s.

The Science of Notetaking: Writing vs Typing (Clearvue Health)

So who cares – right. Welp, lots including the National Handwriting Association (UK) established “to raise awareness of the importance of handwriting as a vital component of literacy”. In the US, there is the National Handwriting Day (created by Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association) on the 23 of January each year – the birthday of John Hancock.

In addition to the writing benefits mentioned, studies have identified a link between handwriting and information retention (learning ability). A study comparing students typing notes vs those taking handwriting notes found that handwritten note takers performed better. Handwritten notes used fewer words because the note taker was thinking about the subject matter and paraphrasing.

Sam Anderson, a staff writer for the New York Times magazine, writes by hand because it “slows him down and puts him in touch with his thoughts. Drafting by hand lowers the stakes, he said, because it doesn’t feel like “official” writing yet, which helps him avoid writer’s block.” He goes on to say that writing on a laptop presents endless opportunities for procrastination. “It’s hard to get truly quiet or focused,” he said. “Writing by hand takes away 17 million options for distraction.”

Anderson is in good company, with Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Joe Hill, each handwrites the first draft of their novels. All three agree, that the process of handwriting their drafts is a more holistic practice that keeps them in touch with their writing and the story.

Since 2010, 45 states have adopted the Common Core standards, which do not require cursive instruction but leave it up to the individual states to decide whether they want to teach it. Sadly, many school system has removed cursive writing curriculums from their classrooms, arguing that in the Digital Age where even the youngest can point and click, why waste time and money teaching cursive?

Cursive writing is a traditional skill that has been replaced by technology, Instructional time is now consumed with teaching to a standardized test.” I fear that one day we will succeed in raising a generation of functional illiterates.

It appears handwriting has fallen victim to the times, to the intellectual, to the idea of progressive thought. In my humble opinion, clearly, it is a better method for teaching and a great memory aid. At work, the young people don’t understand me when I say I’m rewriting my notes…. Only time will tell if the generation of functional illiterates appears and centuries of writing are lost.

Here are some links to improving your handwriting:

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Author:

I'm a loser as my wife likes to tell me, I enjoy researching dead cousins and playing with fountain pens.

11 thoughts on “Handwriting, a Lost Art, or Victim of Technology and Common Core Standards

  1. Gosh! Nearly missed this one Danny. Great read and insightful. Writing in school? I was supposed to have nice writing style for my tender age of 7 or 8 y/o. The teacher was keen for me to enter a handwritten famous poem for a tea company competition. PGTips or Typhoo I suppose. Anyways. She picked up my finished piece, screwed it up and said ‘You can do much better than that!’. Since that? Never wrote in a suggested style at all. Just went my own way. Note taking for Deaf Students at college and university when I trained as a Communication Support Worker using Sign Language, Lip Speaking and Note-taking skills was an eye opener. I retained much of the lectures proffered information and wasn’t even interested in it for self purpose. Your own handwriting observations? I believe we are our own worst critics. Your examples look fine to me. Never ever thought ‘Come on Danny. Get a grip on your style man!’. Everyone has a style be it quirky, naive, arty or cursive/calligraphy perfection. I’m more interested in what the words and stories presented are. And typing? Old type writers are a decent thing. Adds to the inspirational struggles of vintage communication styles. That and building a few sentences of a line or two with individual alphabet printing blocks. Great when they look like they’re following the Yellow Brick Road. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Handwritting observations….hmmm. Printing Ive always viewed as immature but I do print when I want to be artistic or doodle, which is all the time. I prefer cursive but over the years I have made my own version. For example, I blend printed letters with cursive. I use the lower case cursive “j” as an “f” or the “f” becomes more like a capital “P.” Once I hit college, all bets were off. I tried taking notes using multi colored pens (LOL), that was a failure. Instead, my cursive became squiggly lines, reminiscent of the Old German Script Kurrent. I also stopped following rules relating to when words should be capitalized, now I do it for effect, proper names and to begin a sentence. As you have noticed, I blend cursive with printing while writing – if you can’t have fun, why do it at all? I’ve never been one to follow the rules.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly this. Experimenting to get your own style. My daughter’s handwriting is beautiful yet has evolved as she expresses herself more through her need for imagery. My son, left handed like my brother was, writes to meet that difficulty in seeing and getting the words onto the paper and, once finding ease to get letters looking ok, an amazing set in stone quirkiness has resulted. Kurrent script? I just had to go hunt down. I have poor knowledge of the hundreds of script styles. Now you’ve gone and introduced something new to study. In the past I have stolen lettering from others. Then dropped after a few years. Sometimes doodle with one letter and present in different ways. But the act of a sentence to end of day’s report to write. Simple repetitiveness. Like yourself, imagination mixes capitals and lower case for fun. That’s the extent of it. When to go wild? When writing a word alone for fun? For example, my wife’s shop needing a small explanatory label of two or five words, for an item. Each word takes on it’s own unique art form. Coffee Cup. The ‘O’ from coffee becoming the bean shape involved. The ‘U’ becoming the cup…..Etc…If I wrote coffee cup in a letter to someone? Wouldn’t do it. Writing is fascinating. Cheers Danny.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Your wife’s shop…. simply using words is a mistake. Pictures speak volumes and distinguish the subject. Your choice of a coffee bean and the cup to replace letters is excellent. All you need then is the correct script to complete the label, making it as remarkable as the coffee it describes.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s great feedback. There are two of her colleagues that are particularly artistic and do produce imagery really great inspirational and window displays as you describe. I’ve done a few labels and the odd window display when I sometimes help her out in the shop. But generally lead my own life. Especially when Covid put the reigns on going into her shop. Safety was a paramount during that time and I appreciated the rules and stayed away. Her ethics in the Whole food and eco friendly items she sells is very thought over too. The Machynlleth community are of the type to ask very many questions of how it is sourced. And rightly so. The coffee is from small sellers worldwide and of fair trade. Also, other ideals include, recycling, local sources, zero waste, free range and, where possible,….organic. More besides. Her Paradiso coffee bean choice is my go to. It is amazing. Cheers for the feedback Danny.

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