September 28, 2010

The Great Lost Art of Writing

About 10 years ago, I met a woman at a job interview who was sketching something on a whiteboard for me (part of the interview) with great difficulty. She said to excuse he writing; she had long lost the ability to write properly because she had spent so much time in front of a computer. It struck me as odd at the time. Nowadays, I think that will happen more and more.

It occurred to me after my last post that in this electronic age, PK will probably be typing more than she writes. Which makes me wonder if she'll ever develop nice handwriting. You can always tell roughly how old someone is by looking at their handwriting. The older they are, the nicer their penmanship. And that goes for both males and females. I still handwrite, probably because I learned how to handwrite in grade 1 (pretty standard for kids growing up in Brazil). In North America, however, kids of my generation didn't learn how to handwrite until grade 3. This means that most my peers are more comfortable with printing than they are with handwriting. It's a bit sad, because handwriting will soon be a lost art.

And why not? After all, we don't write letters anymore. Instead, we send e-mails, instant messages, or text messages. Most teachers/professors don't spend a ton of time writing on chalkboards anymore. Instead, they have their lessons on PowerPoint decks. Remember overhead projectors? Remember those ones with the slides that teachers used those Sharpie pens to write on? Hey, that was considered to be pretty high-tech when I was growing up. Then came the pre-printed slides. And then *gasp* the document cameras that projected OPAQUE items, like books, onto a screen.

So where does that leave writing? I fear that there won't be much of a place for any form of handwriting, be it cursive or just plain old printing. Even those forms that we fill at doctors' offices are bound to go electronic someday (who knows when, given the speed of bureaucracy, but it will happen). I still write in a notebook for work, but sometimes I get lazy and jot some of my ideas down on my terminal instead. After all, I type way faster than I write.

I wonder if schools even get on your case over bad penmanship anymore. I remember how in grade 4, my teacher was always on my case because my cursive letters didn't look "just write". I cursed her for it. Seemed like a waste of time. That being said, I think my penmanship is pretty decent. Unfortunately, since I am one of the few of my generation who can actually handwrite, most of my peers can't actually read my writing.

By the time PK is old enough to learn how to write, I wonder if she'll end up with nice penmanship or will get by on chicken scratch. My bet is on the chicken scratch. Nothing against her abilities. I just think that she'll be a product of the society in which she lives, and that society is one in which handwriting is a dying art. Besides, she'll probably be entering school at a time where each kid gets a laptop or a tablet or something. Or if it doesn't happen right then, it will happen shortly thereafter.

R.I.P., dear old handwriting. It was nice knowing you.

1 comment:

Fawn said...

I agree with you. And it's already happening. One of my new-teacher friends was more than shocked when she was told by her grade 7 student, "We can't read that stuck-together writing you're putting on the board."

Also, you have BEAUTIFUL writing, if memory serves from the last Christmas card I got from you. :)