I am of two minds. Students must learn to present their work
in a polished, professional way. This can mean handwriting,
but more and more it means a computer-generated document,
slide show, or presentation. They need to learn how to create
and read hand-generated text. But it should not be the
be-all, end-all of written communication they produce.
On one hand, using higher tech can offer a more level playing
field for students that don't have legible handwriting.
Students can create an enormous amount of product without
being shackled by pen or pencil. It is possible, with little
training, for anyone to create a beautifully formatted, easy
to read document. The ways students can present a final
product have exploded with the use of computerized text and
computer generated graphics.
On the other hand, writing things out by hand require a
different kind of thinking. Handwriting slows down one's
thought process. There is an intimacy one gains with
connecting pencil with paper that connects the writer with the
written word that cannot be experienced with word processing.
Also, our country's founding documents are written with
cursive, as are many other pieces of written communication.
There are writing functions available even on the newest
technology, so it is still a current necessary skill for
accessing information using the highest of tech.
I have a background in graphic arts, both graphic design and
calligraphy. I long ago resigned myself to the fact that
creating some beautiful things by hand has become nearly
extinct, but I believe the human creative impetus will
continue to make art, artful writing, and beautiful products
with newer tools.
As a teacher, I spent more time my students how to create
beautiful products using the newest technology. I spent less
time teaching them how to form perfect cursive letters, but
you can be sure I taught them deeply and well about the
history of writing and its importance as a cultural tool.
By the way, the True Type fonts we are all used to using on
our computers would not have been possible if Steve Jobs had
not taken an interest in calligraphy, letterform, and the
relationships of letters to each other. Beautiful handwriting
still has an important place
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