We are losing the art of handwriting. Last year, a UK study found that a third of people had not written anything by hand in the previous 6 months and over half said that they were writing less than the year before. Now this includes writing notes, updating calendars and anything to do with a pen on paper, this is the sad decline of handwriting.
The digital age is so prevalent that in 2013 the USA dropped Cursive Writing, commonly called joined-up writing, across all the various states’ curricula. When young people take notes now they do so one-handed onto their smartphone or tap rapidly away on their keyboards.
A few years ago, when I was doing some teaching to a class of 18 to 21 year olds, I asked for the class to write down something. When I collected the 20 responses, I could only read 3 or 4 of them. It was only 4 lines and they were littered with spelling errors and a great deal of them were even written in print, with each individual letter spaced out. I was shocked. If I had asked them to type it out, the spelling might have been atrocious, but I would have been able to read them.
Now why is this a problem, or indeed a crisis? Apart from the delightful aspects of hand written ‘Thank You’ notes and Love letters, there is some practical and scientific aspects that mean that actual handwriting can help us to think, learn and create better. Some Neuroscientists have proven that children learn to read better if they hand write letters and words. Another group of scientists have found that taking notes by pen and paper mean the students recall the subject better and with more accuracy than the the ones who solely used a computer. It engages both parts of our brain. Authors, musicians and other creative people have entertained us through the centuries with the might of the Pen and the Pencil.
I am not an ‘old fogey’ and am a great fan of technology; I have all the latest gadgets and use Evernote like it was going out of fashion. However, I admit that I have appalling handwriting, I always have had. In fact, I had to take extra handwriting classes at school as mine was so poor. It still is pretty illegible if I write fast, but I love the feeling of pen on paper. In fact, as I type this out on my keyboard, my notes for the article are written out in the Book in front of me and I am surrounded by note books of various descriptions, in which I write. I also love the fountain pens I own.
There is a happy marriage between the two; we are seeing the rise of stylus writing on the new tablets and there are apps that make it easier to write. There are notebooks such as Moleskine that combine the beauty of pen and paper with technology as they link with Evernote, Adobe and LiveScribe, synchronising the two worlds.
If you want great inspiration look at the wonderful work of Paul Antonio, he is a modern scribe and his hand is a thing of beauty, take a look at his Flickr account here to see his varied and creative work. In his case beautiful handwriting has taken him all around the world. We will be interviewing Paul later this year and hopefully he will give us some of his secrets!
Do we want to be a world that only writes like children or can only use a QWERTY keyboard? I don’t think so. So pick up your pen and practice a little handwriting today, you might stimulate yourself to success!