The invention of the writing changed the world and our thinking. Writing and copying were related to a large manual effort for thousands of years. While paper represented the memory for thoughts for a long time, nowadays information is saved in virtual, electronic storages. Even if speaking and writing recognition become more and more reliable, contents are inputted particularly with all kinds of keyboards. Currently Finland wants to use keyboards at school at the expense of handwriting. How long can the handwriting survive in competition with ubiquitous ten-finger and one- finger systems?
Learning how to write is closely connected to reading. That way you discover letters, syllables, words, sentences and eventually complete texts. From my point of view the personal writing competency can be developed at best with the right mix of handwriting and typing. The sales of classical providers of writing tools, like Faber Castell and Moleskine, rose in four years around approx. 40 percent. Nevertheless it is worthwhile to be aware of the pros and cons of handwriting.
The following problems stress the use of handwriting.
- Hand written texts are more difficult to decipher than printed ones. In order to achieve a readable handwriting, regular practice is needed, just like for error free touch typing. Although the handwriting offers, contrary to the many thousand fonts that are available in the computer, fewer variations, it is nevertheless often less readable.
- Beyond that the handwriting uncovers not only content of a text, but also the writer’s personality. Those moods do not become visible in the type written texts except if you use a mechanical type writer.
- A disadvantage of writing by hand is the fact that during the writing you depend on your personal language competency, vocabulary and orthography. The automatisms of the computer, like the spellcheck and autocomplete as well as always available thesaurus, extend the quality of the texts also for less experienced writers.
- In order to eventually copy or send a handwritten text to many people, you can only manually copy or photocopy and forward it as a classical letter, electronic fax or by other technologies.
The advantages of writing by hand are however the following aspects:
- As soon as you know the handwriting, it is everywhere available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Analogue tools, like pencils, ball-point pens, chalk, fountain pens, but also a blunt nail on any surface provide the opportunity to write independent of electricity or network.
- Writing by hand is possible without any time delay. No computer equipment must be switched on or an operating system to be started. At the same time you can change by hand fast from letters to numbers, to signs or drawings.
- With the handwriting you are able to express your mood besides the content of the text. Thus, handwritten becomes a personal means of expression. Naturally this creates also obligation, since writing personal texts cannot be delegated.
- The writing by hand fosters the remembering of contents. Through the embodiment of the writing contents are better stored in the mind.
- The writing by hand is a motoric talent, like piano playing, driving a car or sketching. Also the general development of the brain is fostered by the regular exercise of such talents. The personal handwriting works accordingly.
Bottom line: The writing by hand is an ability like eating with knife and fork or chopsticks. There are good reasons to write on computers. But to renounce the development of handwriting at all would strongly limit our capability of written communication.