Today is John Hancock’s birthday. Let’s celebrate by talking about penmanship.
Last month a friend sent me an article featuring a business with robots writing thank you notes. Human handwriting is being mimicked, complete with smudges. “Grrrrr,” I say. We’ve come to that? Everything has become so fake.
To counteract that robot story, a current deluge of positive articles in my inbox indicates that cursive writing is making a comeback in our national school curriculum. States like Texas, Ohio, New York, and perhaps- New Jersey, are bringing handwriting back into the classrooms. With that, the total number of states teaching cursive is up to 14.
Teachers are weighing in over how much time is required for teaching this skill. The general argument goes back and forth, “Is it necessary? Is it useful in today’s world?”
Studies are showing that handwriting is a marvelous antidote for today’s hyper-distracted world. Right off the top, it slows us down. The brain’s fine motor skills are more engaged in creating those letter forms than what is mentally involved in simply tapping on a keyboard. Spelling is enhanced when we write out the words. Memory recall is strengthened when students take notes by hand. Critical thinking is encouraged as we grasp the highlights of a talk or lecture. And let’s not forget another important benefit of this slower pace writing is an increased attention span.
There’s also something of a curious nostalgic pull that happens in uncertain times, people are drawn back to cursive handwriting. It’s a steady and reliable way to a slow down and reclaim a very human method of reflective communication. And that’s comforting.
These daily handwriting articles are quite encouraging, which allows me to say with some confidence that handwriting is NOT dead. Some say, “It’s a lost art.” I wouldn’t say “lost,” it’s not like hieroglyphics. Let’s say handwriting is underutilized. There are always historical outcries with technological changes. The Nook and Kindle were set to replace paper books. They didn’t. In fact, younger folks seem to prefer print on a paper page. The typewriter was predicted to replace handwriting, it didn’t. Radio would replace newspapers. That didn’t happen. Television was to upstage radio. Today, they both co-exist. And the computer hasn’t eliminated handwriting.
Penmanship is the topic of many new books being written. There are several recent publications for handwriting improvement, and calligraphy is becoming tremendously popular. Did you know that Megan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, was a professional calligrapher? And, she is a big fan of handwritten thank you notes. The “Megan effect” has influenced many to pick up a calligraphy pen.
When anyone wants to affect style and class, they use script. Wedding invitations and announcements are generally written in script. Script definitely boosts a brand. Take Coca Cola’s 1886’s well known Spencerian logo. With worldwide recognition it needs no translation. Ford Motor Company’s logo is also Spencerian script dating back to 1907. It’s definitely classy. But, I’m getting off the track here. Spencerian script will be the topic for another future post.
What I want to say is handwriting is a useful, personal life skill. And like any skill the more you practice, the better it will look. It’s quicker than printing, and it rewards the writer with so many of the above mentioned benefits. Therefore, whether you learned it in school, or not, there is still time to learn cursive, or polish up your old penmanship.
So in honor of John Hancock’s birthday, let’s pick up a pen and write each other a note.
References & Resources- https://thepostmansknock.com/