To hear that a number of schools are ceasing to teach pupils handwriting saddens me. I understand that the generations coming through make use of portable devices to write upon, but I don’t agree that these things make the art of handwriting redundant.
I am of an age where we were taught to write with pen on paper. Lined pages where we would use two lines for a capital or tall letter and just the lower line for smaller letters, scratching away with a pen and ink as we developed our own styles around the standard form.
As we mastered to letters and how to assemble them into words we began to learn sentences, paragraphs and beyond and we began to understand grammar. There was a lot more to understanding our language than just writing out words, but the ability to write helped a lot in communicating.
In my early years at work computers we beginning to make an impact. Computers then were big things that we didn’t ever see, but we had to cater for the people who fed the information and for about four years the majority of the writing that I did was to complete forms where there was a space for each letter (or number) and all letters had to be in capitals. When that job came to an end and I moved on to one where I was drafting contracts for one of the ladies in the typing pool to turn into a document that we could send out I had to pretty much teach myself to write all over again for I had not written a sentence let alone a paragraph for so long. It took me almost three months before I could manage legible joined up writing on a consistent basis and since then I have tried to keep up a regular writing regime.
The advent of the word processor was, to some extend, a boon in that it became so easy to redo something that you didn’t like the look of and then the ability to check your spelling and grammar were other benefits, but these things are not fool proof. As we used to say in the early days of computing; garbage in, garbage out and as someone who writes a lot (25,000 words is a slow week) it is easy to miss some of the silly things that can occur. Why else would so many people turn off predictive text?
Language is a living thing and it evolves all of the time. I don’t want to stop that, but if we lose the basic skills of forming letters and words I don’t believe that it is going to help. Over the last thirty years or so I have encountered so many young people coming to work for me who cannot do any basic mathematics because they have used calculators from an early age and have little or no understanding of how numbers work. They trust entirely anything that comes off a spreadsheet even when there is a blatant error. I see the loss of handwriting as bringing the same problems with words and it saddens me.
Change is all around us and it is inevitable, but not everything that we do brings progress. Each generation of children represents the future of our various civilisations and I don’t think that we should deprive them of basic skills. Sooner or later we will regret doing so.
With another working trip coming to an end I find that, yet again, my list of things to do during dead time is pretty much untouched. There were so many things that I was going to write while I had time to myself, but almost nothing got done; so much for good intentions. Read more…
For those that remember my series of stories on life in hospital, the 20 or so stories that appeared here were a little under half of what I wrote during my stay, and I have pulled the whole work together in an eBook.
As with my previous book it is on Kindle to begin with, but I will start looking at the paperback options in a week or two. You can buy the Kindle edition here: A Patient’s Progress
My hospital sojourn interrupted the process of another book that was also almost ready for publication, and I want to resume work on that with the aim of having it on Kindle before Christmas, so watch this space.
2013 could see a number of publications from me depending on how other work goes; writing is a very time-consuming activity!