Good handwriting is a hallmark of good education. When I was in school, we had handwriting periods and teachers would spend hours emphasizing on the finer nuances of good handwriting. We learnt intricate details about good handwriting that range from the curves of the letter ‘y’ and ‘f’ and the need for proper dashes to cut across the letter ‘t’. We wrote and practiced capital and small letters to perfection.
In fact, we were given copywriting books and we wrote on dotted lines and practiced running hand writing, so that the letters we weaved came out to perfection. Children always had good, poor or normal handwriting and this was a personal trait. But we as children loved to write.
In many schools which I visit as a psychiatrist, children are referred to me with a dislike and disdain for writing. In the good old days, children had no access to internet, Youtube and gadgets like a tablet or smartphone to play with. They only got to know about typing, after passing out from the school. In the present modern era children are introduced to gadgets as soon as they are born and a lot of academics happen via gadgets from a very young age. Thus children develop a longing for electronic media and the love of a chalk, slate and the blackboard eludes them.
Children do not like writing with their fingers in the sand, as this is not as pleasurable as moving their little fingers on the hands of gadget. They prefer holding a joystick rather than the grip of a pencil and do not find mainstream academic reading and writing attractive when compared to steady action packed stream of stories they view on their screens.
Handwriting of many children I met is not as clear and crisp as compared to the handwriting of children in my schooling days. The lack of practice and promotion of handwriting training should be blamed for this. We as parents have the onus on us, to promote handwriting and a love for it in our children. One page of handwriting a day was the norm some years ago. But today, it is not followed.
Many children have not even learnt to grip the pen or pencil properly. In my school days, we have written huge answers and large number of pages and were even made to write answers thrice as means to remember them. Today, children develop pain in their hands, when they are asked to write huge answers. But they are swift in twiddling their fingers and thumbs on an IPad or tablet.
Children seek doctor’s help with conditions like gadget thumb – where there is a pain in the joints of the thumb and tablet fingers, where the fingers ache due to use in a video game are common bone and joint disorders.
Handwriting is an art that is dying today. Soon we shall have everything digital and letters will disappear. A day will arrive when handwriting shall be extinct and children will use laptops and gadgets in school. Homework would be emailed to teachers and tests shall be taken online.
We as human beings will rue that day. So it is essential to promote the art of handwriting in children and adults too. Schools must reward students with good handwriting. This shall go a long way in promoting their growth and personality. As later in life their handwriting shall speak miles about the education that they have received.
Handwriting serves as a means of personal expression, where one can express what one feels like in a personal notebook or diary, which shouldn’t vanish. It gives us solace in our darkest as well as finest hours. Handwriting is nothing but the imprint of the person on the paper. Preserve it and salvage this gift that evolution has given us.
The author is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Founder Trustee of the Desousa Foundation