The Death of Penmanship and Communication?

I am so thankful for this blog. It allows me to share my thoughts without you all having to see my chicken-scratch filled notebooks. If you were to see my notebooks, it’s a good bet that it would be indecipherable to you, because sometimes, even I have no idea how to read what I wrote down. And I’m glad that I can type fast as well. All my keyboarding classes paid off. I type between 80-90 wpm, so it is a small victory for me that I can put these blogs out very fast when Tuesday draws near. Also, I’m not the most organized person in the world. My notebooks have everything from grocery lists, to blog ideas, to documentation of my kid’s milestones, etc. etc. Now that I am teaching my youngest how to write his letters, and my oldest how to improve her spelling, I find myself having to force my hands to slow down when I write things down for them. The lower-case k I write on the board, is not the same lower-case k, my daughter is used to seeing. And I have noticed that we seem to go back and forth on which is correct when we print I or J. For example, The capital I’s and J’s on a phone texting board are not the same as in pre-school workbooks. Also, not to be confused with lower case l, now that I mention it. There have been times that even though I took my time and wrote out a word for my daughter to study, she would stare at me with a distrusting wince, as if to say, “Does my mommy even know how to spell?”

Honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed it has come to this. All those years in school practicing handwriting and my penmanship has suffered. What was it all for? Some would blame technology for said decline, and they would be correct, but one could argue (meaning me) that I have become lazy over the years, and the pride for good penmanship has disappeared. And what about cursive! I still love writing in cursive. Sometimes my cursive turns out more legible than my print. I’ve observed that in some schools cursive is no longer taught, and that kind of hurts my heart a little bit. Part of it comes from my artsy nerdiness, but the other part comes from a cranky elder beneath the surface; “If we had to do it, they need to do it!” Right?

Yes, there isn’t much need for legible script or fancy calligraphy anymore. All we need  are our thumbs that can make words fly furiously on a screen, and we can communicate with people within seconds. And while we are touching on communication, do you know what I did the other day? I made a phone call! *Gasp* A what? You mean you actually dialed a number and conversed with another human being? It had been so long since I had actually just called a friend to see how they were, rather than just sending a text. I swear, like a million endorphins must have pulsated through my body. It felt so wonderful. I’m probably going to try and do this more often. We have all this freedom to make free phone calls and we don’t do it? What is wrong with us?

Don’t misunderstand. Technology has so many advantages that solve many problems.  I mean, come on! We don’t have to worry about messy, cryptic, doctor’s prescription notes anymore.  I admit, I’m probably not going to stop texting anytime soon, and, oh how I adore emojis.  They have saved me many times when I’m not exactly sure how to express my feelings.  Sometimes it is so hard to convey tone when sending a text message, but now these wonderful little characters are my favorite communicative partners. I play a game on my phone, because it adds Disney emojis to my phone. Obviously, I love it!  Today, it was so funny when my husband penned a little note in my daughter’s lunchbox and wrote an old school emoji at the end :).  Becky didn’t notice that it was a sideways smiley face until she got home.  How far we have come. My point is helped with the video below at minute marker: 2:34.


I’ve heard stories about muscle memory. I’m certainly not going to pretend like I know any science behind it, but do you all think that perhaps our muscle memory could eventually suffer if we eliminate other forms of communication?  All we are using to communicate are our thumbs.  Perhaps even a new form of carpal tunnel syndrome could emerge?  Just a random wondering. I’m no expert, but when I first started writing in my journals again, my hand started hurting pretty quickly.  I’m jumping to the conclusion that my hands haven’t been used in that way for so long, my muscles need to adjust.

Back in my days of teaching, I recall reading through a few writing samples that included abbreviated text phrases.  I saw “IDK” as a common favorite among high school students.  If it was in their creative writing journal I certainly didn’t make any marks against them, but when I observed texts in their essays, I had to correct them.  It’s scary to think that someone, somewhere, let them get away with it.  Let’s not bury the practice of good penmanship.  It’s hard enough to convince kids that they need Algebra and Shakespeare included in their education.  Let’s not add hand-writing to the argument.  It’s time for a Writing Renaissance, n’est-ce pas?

My husband has expressed a desire for our daughter to practice hand-written letters to people. It is an awesome idea that I am behind 100%, but honestly life has kept getting in the way. I hope to get her excited to have a few pen pals by starting to write more hand-written letters myself. I think it will be good practice to resurrect good penmanship and hopefully she will follow suit. And, hey, imagine the look of surprise my friends and family will have when they open up their mail box and see something other than bills. It sounds like a good bandwagon to jump onto. Who is with me?

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