Celebrating the Art of Handwriting on National Handwriting Day

The Art of Handwriting

Despite our reliance on digital communication, the art of handwriting is still something that still holds importance, whether it’s in the classroom, at work or when unwinding at home. Here’s why.

Tracing all the way back to its earliest roots, penmanship and the art of handwriting was first established by the Romans, who were among the first to develop a written script for their transactions and correspondence.

Soon after the Roman Empire had fallen however, it developed into a specialised discipline and it was in the late eighth century that an English monk was given the task to standardize handwriting as a craft something that was admired for its skill.

As the century came to a close, more and more attention was given to the art of handwriting, so much so that in the mid 1800s, an abolitionist and bookkeeper named Platt Rodgers Spencer invented one of the first cursive writing systems.

This was known as the Spencerian method and was soon included in school textbooks and other educational publications, with the most famous example of this style of writing being used in the original logo for Coca-Cola.

Flash forward to the present day though and you will find much less attention is now being given to the art of handwriting, with much of our time taking down notes on laptops and tablets and much of our creative writing being produced by machine rather than by human hand.

So does the art of handwriting still have a place in today’s classrooms, workplaces and homes?

The Art of Handwriting

Handwriting in Education

Despite technology now becoming part and parcel of the classroom and educational environments, there is still a great need for handwriting to be taught in schools, colleges and even earlier ages of education.

The results of brain scanning research demonstrates that handwriting in a manuscript form helps children at a young age to learn their letters.

Additionally, being educated to print letters at an early age has a direct effect on how we learn to read, as the ability to write out letters, words and sentences sets up the neural systems in order for our brains to process the text we come across in our lives.

The other benefit of learning the art of handwriting, which is how it can develop us into being better creative writers and helps improve our grammar, is further detailed by J. Richard Gentry Ph.D. writing for Psychology Today, explaining:

“Research shows that learning to write by hand is a key component in improving both spelling ability and written composition.

With beginners, handwriting experience facilitates letter learning, and letter learning not only sets up the neural systems that underlie reading, writing and spelling but it is a primary predictor of later reading success.

In addition, handwriting fluency frees the child’s mind for more complex composing skills for making meaning.”

Handwriting in the Workplace

With many organizations and employers preferring to focus on working smarter through the utilization of smart tech, such as voice assistants and other forms of automation, it can be difficult on first reflection to perhaps understand why we may still need handwriting in the workplace.

However, core writing and communication skills have become a crucial part of almost any job role that exists in the world today and not possessing them can have an impact on your reputation with clients and with those you work with.

It can even make or break employment opportunities should you be looking to move up at the company you are currently at or applying for another job elsewhere, as Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp explains.

“If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer.

His/her writing skills will pay off.

That’s because being a good writer is about more than writing clear writing.

Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.

Great writers know how to communicate.

They make things easy to understand.

They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

They know what to omit.

And those are qualities you want in any candidate.

Writing is making a comeback all over our society…writing is today’s currency for good ideas.”

Handwriting at Home

There are a variety of ways that we might choose to unwind or relax once arriving home from work or when we get some spare time on a weekend.

Some of us may be looking forward to catching up with our favourite TV shows or perhaps be planning to go and watch one of the latest releases at the cinema.

Others of course, might spend time shopping on the internet with a laptop or tablet from the comfort of the settee or even pick up a game pad and turn on a games console for some escapism.

But perhaps, it may be worth considering picking up a pen and some paper, and putting your hand to some creative handwriting instead, due to the psychological benefits it can provide when away from a work desk.

In particular, the art of handwriting can actually help to improve our overall happiness and allow us to express ourselves better when it comes to handling disagreements or conflicts.

Adam Grant, an Organizational Psychologist at Wharton, provides evidence that handwriting can help us to better focus on what makes us happy and how to be more satisfied with our lives, citing:

“Research by Laura King shows that writing about achieving future goals and dreams can make people happier and healthier.

And Jane Dutton and I found that when people doing stressful fundraising jobs kept a journal for a few days about how their work made a difference, they increased their hourly effort by 29% over the next two weeks”

Handwriting Helps Handle Our Emotions

Of course, life sometimes isn’t always sunshine and rainbows as much as we would probably like it be, which is why handwriting has also been proven to help us express ourselves honestly and clearly when dealing with negative situations.

Grant illustrates this by way of a study held by researchers on a group engineers who were recently fired from their jobs and consistently engaged with expressive handwriting, with Grant noting:

“The engineers who wrote down their thoughts and feelings about losing their jobs reported feeling less anger and hostility toward their former employer.

They also reported drinking less.

Eight months later, less than 19% of the engineers in the control groups were re-employed full time, compared with more than 52% of the engineers in the expressive writing group.”

So as tempting as it may be to forget about the art of handwriting and focus on improving your digital skills instead, there are still a multitude of benefits that come from the simple use of paper and pen.

Handwriting is going nowhere for now – and that’s something to celebrate.

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Sam Rose

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