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Is Handwriting a Dying Art?


Handwriting for ChildrenRecently I was clearing up a long forgotten cupboard when I found an old fountain pen.  The pen took my straight back to my early school years – the mess of a leaky pen, the morning ritual of painstakingly filling ink, and the pride I felt that I was a ‘big’ girl now – I had graduated from pencil to pen!

And then I realised that I didn’t know when my son (now in grade 10) had marked this rite of childhood, so I walked into his room to ask him if he remembered when he began writing with a pen. His blank look told me what I should have realised – that today’s  school children in the US don’t graduate from pencil to pen; they have taken it a step beyond and graduated to the cursor!

When he was in elementary school, he did  a little bit of hand writing, but even then, he  never learnt to write cursive.  Writing is just not part of the  school’s agenda any more.  Testing is no more in the form of writing out long answers and essays – most of the questions are in multiple choice format, where all that is needed in terms of writing is the ability to shade  a bubble.

As he progressed in years, most of his homework is done and submitted electronically, so I see him increasingly at the computer rather than at his desk.

Studies have shown that adults taught a new, invented alphabet by copying the letters by hand remember it better than those who learn it on a keyboard—and that areas in their brains that oversee language comprehension, motor-related processes and gestures associated with speech show more activity. Schoolchildren who write essays in cursive produce longer work, perform faster and express more ideas than those composing on keyboards. But in today’s rushed new world,  where everyone and every gadget seems to be getting upgraded to an electronic version, will handwriting be another victim of the electronic age? What do you think?

Also Read : How Technology Leaves its Mark on Children?

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Gayatri Kulkarni is on the ParentEdge Editorial Panel. Her children have studied in the Indian ICSE, the International Baccalaureate and American school systems – giving her a ringside view of the pros and cons of all three systems. She has a multicultural approach to education and is interested in learning methods that stimulate a lifelong love for learning.


3 thoughts on “Is Handwriting a Dying Art?

  1. Kritika

    Yes, less and less children are writing extensively nowadays, and even less write neatly! But we can’t really fault them – how much do we adults write today? My wrist and fingers cramp up if I have to make a shopping list longer than 20 items, or if I have to write a leave-application letter to my daughter’s school!

    Indian schools still require examinations to be written out, but it’s only a matter of time till project work, assigments and online assessments phase out traditional two- or three-hour long written exams.

    While it is tragic that handwriting is dying out and while I am sure that there are benefits to continuing to write (as Gayatri points out), I guess we will have to live with the fact that handwriting is simpy not essential anymore in the digital world. In another decade, I am pretty sure that parents will be bemoaning the fact, adding one more item of nostalgia onto the ‘good old days’ list and sending their for handwriting classes so they can learn it a dying an art form!

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  2. Ramya

    Most Indian schools have written work at least till class 9. And the Class 10 Board exams do have essays and long answers to be written! So at least for now, children do need to write – but perhaps not as much as we used to, when we were young.

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  3. Sudha Kumar

    Good post Gayatri. Here in India, we follow the “middle-path”. My daughter who is in Grade 11 carries a laptop around, with lessons and books on it, she does assignments on the computer, but exams are still done old fashioned pen on paper way! Even still, I am prodding her to put pen to paper while studying more often, because, like you, I too feel that our brain is wired to respond better to this method.

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