How's your penmanship these days? With the development of more affordable and
sophisticated writing gadgets, American Educator magazine
notes, "It seems the death of handwriting
draws closer every year." According to the article, dozens of studies have found that handwriting instruction improves writing — in terms of not only its legibility but also its quality and quantity.
In honor of National Handwriting Day this week, enjoy this classic essay by Lance Morrow that ran in Time magazine in 1986. He imagines the Toad character from The Wind in the Willows giving up pen and pencil for a typewriter, and then ditching that machine in favor of a word processor. One day, Toad decides to pick up the handwriting habit again and "finds himself seduced, in love, scribbling away in the transports of a new passion."
So why not celebrate handwriting by scribbling a postcard or letter to a friend or relative, who will value it more than an e-mail or text message? That's what I'm going to do right now…
Jennifer, just wanted to let you know that I’ve been inspired by this blog. This semester I’m having students write by hand every Thursday, in notebooks that I collect at the end of the week. Writing comments to them by hand is laborious but also fun. I find they write significantly better by hand (both grammatically and content-wise) than they do when they text or e-mail me.
That’s an interesting approach! I used to have students hand-write a news journal each week; when I tried converting it to an online project, it didn’t work as well. And after six years of teaching magazine editing, it just occurred to me this semester to assign students handmade zines instead of just computer-designed publications (even though I’ve done research on handmade zines and even wrote an encyclopedia entry on them). They learn the same editorial skills in story conception, planning and selection, but they don’t waste time fighting the design software.
As a kid in elementary school I used to get in trouble because of my messy handwriting on my homework assignment. It wasn’t my fault though- I was a lefty and my hand would always smear the pencil or ink.
If you want to practice your lefty handwriting by sending me postcards or letters, I’ll happily be your penpal.
I’ve always loved your penmanship, Jenny. I have penmanship envy.