i was reading a design*sponge post which mentioned the art of practicing handwriting & learning the alphabet in grade school (and also included a graphic designers’ favorite ABC cards for kids – all were beautiful).


[photo credit: from brooke reynolds’ guest post on d*s]

this picture of a little boy sitting at a table with milk & cookies brought back a flood of wonderful memories.  i LOVED handwriting homework in school.  i remember the joy i found in writing letters and forming words with those letters.  i loved those big books of lined paper (& dotted half-lines) we used to practice our handwriting.  i liked the way that my kindergarten teacher, mrs. key, would remind us to cross each “t” and dot each “i.”  i was not nervous at all for our “test” at the end of the year which consisted of recognizing and naming each letter of the alphabet.  i loved trying to make my letters look exactly like the sample even if it meant practicing page after page.  i liked experimenting with different handwriting styles.  and, oh, learning to write cursive… well, that’s an entire blog post in itself.  i loved it all!  i was a total school-nerd from the beginning.

all of this got me thinking… (as i write this on my little macbook) are we missing out on something by doing most of our writing on a computer? do we gradually chip away at our ability to hand-write graceful words as we pull away from the traditional process of taking notes on paper & communicating through written letters?

i forgot my computer charger for class one day a few weeks ago. i had to take all of my notes by hand.  it didn’t seem like a big deal at first.  but it was a disaster.  without the repetition and daily practice of writing notes on paper, i found that my ability to write quickly and accurately had eroded significantly.  how sad!

i’m not saying computers aren’t useful.  i couldn’t live without my laptop in class for a million other reasons than just to crank out my notes quickly – i use it to keep dates organized in an online calendar, to check hastings info on their site, to search quickly through past notes for a certain word/phrase, to look up cases, to keep up with email, to search terms i’m unfamiliar with, and so much more…

but i’m also committed to sticking with handwriting for certain things:

  • i still send handwritten letters.
  • i still make reminder notes to myself on post-its.
  • i still write groceries lists by hand.
  • i still mark up & write out notes in the margins by hand in my casebooks.
  • i still hand-write overview outlines for each class before exams (i think the process of writing these out by hand helps me remember them better).

there’s still something very important and useful about handwritten words.

why do you think we still hand-write our signatures at the bottom of so many things (contracts, cover letters, hallmark cards, etc.)?  the handwritten word still seems to have more meaning – even in an increasingly digital age.




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