Tuesday, 15 January 2013

No more writing



For how long will we need to write by hand? I ask this not uncommon question, because I've recently discussed it with my better half. Maybe it was the chore delight of writing Christmas cards, but we both came to the same conclusion.

We don't write as fluently as we did.

Instead of our handwriting being entirely automatic, words flowing from the pen like a limpid stream of inky eloquence, we have both acquired a regular tendency to think for a second before putting pen to paper. Not a great long pause and a bit of head-scratching – just a slight hesitation twixt intent and act. Brief, but we both notice it.

So for us, writing by hand isn’t quite as easy as it was. The faintest hint of a lapse from total familiarity has crept into our writing physique. In these digital times, we both lack that regular practice which began almost sixty years ago and never faltered until quite recently.

I still make handwritten notes for blog posts and short story ideas. We both make handwritten shopping lists and diary notes, but that’s about it. We no longer do much writing.

My writing was always dreadful anyway, so it’s no great loss, but noticing our lack of practice was a surprise to both of us, even though the demise of writing has been predicted for years. I suppose we always took those prognostications with a pinch of salt.

Yet do we need to write beyond shopping lists? Won’t the government soon be doing that for us anyway? Will we stop teaching kids how to write, or at least, how to write well? Grandson is being taught to write at his primary school, but is he wasting his time? 

7 comments:

Macheath said...

Education is currently in transition and it's proving uncomfortable for some.

The worship of the great god IT in our schools means that many pupils now hand in the bulk of their essays electronically, meaning that external exams come as a shock for which some are disastrously ill-prepared.

A few - for reasons of disability or injury - are allowed to use computers but the rest must struggle to force their unaccustomed muscles and minds through two or three hours of handwriting at a stretch.

Since IT enthusiasts rarely take into account the almost insurmountable difficulty and expense of providing a secure and undamaged terminal for every candidate, this state of affairs looks set to continue for the foreseeable future: you should probably encourage your grandson to handwrite as much and as often as possible as long as he is in the exam system.

Demetrius said...

Agree with Macheath, above. Re TV Father Brown, took a look. At 50 minutes it is clearly destined to be satellite scenic retro tosh. Chesterton it isn't nor is it much at all. Also, it seems to be relocated to possibly the Cotwolds and advanced fifty years. It did not resemble much though the Cotswolds I knew in the 1950's. It had a very large dollop of 21st Century correctness and it was the poor old Anglican vicar who was the one with a bad dose of religion. The locomotive was right for the 1950's but not the coaching stock. Also, plain clothes detectives inspectors of police were not in village police stations or chasing about in routine car patrols.

Roger said...

I suppose if Cicero and Tiro had Iphones they would have used them with relish and chucked their styli and tablets in the Tiber. They too would have laughed at those old Greeks who declared the young were decadent (not like us) and the world going to hell in a handcart. So, for schools live with it I say - but crack down on bad speling and gramer.

However, there is something graceful and personal about handwriting, perhaps it will become part of Eng Lit or a degree subject (I can think of worse...). One thing I don't really like is eChristmas Cards, however nicely presented they seem a bit infra dig.

Worrying that the only recording medium that lasts is the clay tablet or parchment and quill.

A K Haart said...

Mac - I think Grandson will be taught to write as part of reading, but from what you say, the future seems confused.

Demetrius - oh dear. I've put Father Brown onto series record, but yet to see the first one. I'll grit my teeth and give it a viewing.

Roger - decent paper made from rags lasts well - possibly thousands of years rather than hundreds. Handwriting could become one of the arts, but somehow I doubt it.

James Higham said...

So for us, writing by hand isn’t quite as easy as it was. The faintest hint of a lapse from total familiarity has crept into our writing physique.

Shopping lists - that's all that is written by hand now.

Woodsy42 said...

My writing too has deteriorated in mental fluidity and legibility since computers. But even worse my spelling and grammar is now being attacked by the funny little pseudo keyboard and predictive text in the phone!

A K Haart said...

James - that's about it for me too - plus a few diary notes.

Woodsy - maybe predictive text will become a new standard.