The Value of the Written Word

The Value of the Written Word

 

IS THE HANDWRITTEN WORD DOOMED TO EXTINCTION?

SENIOR MOMENTS – By Jean Cherni  01/15/2017

Like me, I would guess that most of my readers were not aware that January is National Handwriting

Month. A recent publicity release from BIC pens in the interests of keeping handwriting alive,

informed me of this important date as well as their “Fight for Your Write” mission to promote the

 importance of teaching handwriting to kids in school and at home. While admittedly, Bic has an

invested interest in the continued use of the written word, many experts in early education and

psychology, also feel the gradual elimination of teaching handwriting skills in many schools, is a big

mistake. There is also a National Handwriting Association dedicated to preserving handwriting skills.

 Writing has a very long history, beginning as simple pictographs drawn on a rock; early

symbols were used to store information and to communicate it to others. Modern technology has

dramatically changed the way we communicate but despite the increased use of computers, the skill

of handwriting remains an important one. Seven states, California, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Utah,

Massachusetts and North Carolina fought to keep cursive in their curriculum when in 2013, the

Common Core educational standards dictated that cursive would no longer be taught in elementary

schools. Many educators and child psychologists feel that writing has the following positive effects:

  • Improves cognitive development and motor skills
  • Builds self-confidence
  • Improves reading skills ;when forming the letters, children learn the sound at the same time
  • Helps foster creativity and critical thinking skills

In addition, the student who has never studied cursive writing is often unable to do research in library

archives of important historical documents (like our Declaration of Independence) all written in the

cursive style. Many firms use the pseudo science of graphology which is the process of analyzing

handwriting to determine character traits, in their recruitment and it has even been used in some

court cases. There is, certainly, something beautiful in the personal distinctiveness of someone’s

handwriting; like one’s face, it is shared with no one else. I know that I still treasure some

handwritten letters that my father wrote to me; not only the sentiment they express but the

familiarity of his beautiful script, bring him close again as nothing else can. Sometime ago, in a letter

to the New York Times, a woman by the name of Susan Braiman eloquently expressed what many of

our generation feel when she said, “I feel sorry for any person who has never had the pleasure of

receiving a beautifully crafted or perhaps clumsily handwritten letter that reflects time, effort and the

personality of the writer. I am sorrier still, for the future generation that may never send or receive

that most private symbol of personal warmth and attachment.” Today, psychologists and social

workers are concerned about technology’s effect on our personal relationships.  We text rather than

take the time to make a personal call, we send 10 word messages to 30 Facebook “friends” rather

than listen attentively to just one. The importance of taking the time to send a caring note in our own

handwriting, should never be under estimated.

 

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