The art of handwriting
Is handwriting a dying art? And does it matter?
I no longer write letters (I use to be an avid letter writer), I don't write a diary (I did once), I am not a student (and most of them use the computer these days) so there isn't many opportunities to write the "old fashion" way. Perhaps the only thing I write on a regular basis is my shopping list or instructions for my son such as "vacuum the house".
According to a newspaper article I read: Ample research coming out of the US and elsewhere supports handwriting for improving brain development, forcing children to write in full, cogent sentences and assisting with memory development. Yet in spite of the research, about 40 states in the US have adopted a national curriculum, known as the Common Core State Standards, that dumps mandatory teaching of longhand. The onus is now on individual schools to decide whether or not to teach handwriting. (link)
Fortunately (but for how long) longhand is still taught in Australian schools, however more and more schools are using computers for the writing of essays and other school work, therefore our children no longer write by hand to the same degree as they once did.
On the weekend I went to see a fabulous exhibition of 10 centuries of handwritten treasures (link) from the National Berlin Library (now being exhibited at the National Library of Australia). I was able to look manuscripts, letters, musical scores and other rare material by the likes of Beethoven, Michelangelo, Napoleon, Marx, Mozart and numerous other famous names through history. This exhibition was well worth visiting and it is free.
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro (1756-1791)|
I couldn't help but think of what we are leaving behind. Most people don't write letters anymore, this was common place not that long ago and it is often these letters, found after a person had died, that allow us to share some of their most private thoughts, such as a love letter. Even things like birthday greetings, thankyou cards and even Christmas cards are on the decline - these are now often sent via email or facebook or like my son, via SMS to his grandmother!
The problem with the computer age is the lack permanency - what is written on Twitter lasts no more than a week then its gone, your SMS message of thanks or your email is delete - many things that we record have a very short lifespan.
|Love letter from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn|
|St Bernard of Clairvaux's commentaries on the Song of Songs (c.1225-1250)|
Just think of how many times the Bible has been handwritten, often so beautifully and treasured so dearly? How many people risked their lives to hand-write the Bible?