I recently attended a writer’s workshop at the Sechelt Public Library attended by about a dozen local authors. One of the topics that came up had to do with the “screen mania” that occupies so many of today’s youth and the impact it has on their learning and cultural involvement and expression.
It is apparent that schools and governments today are highly committed to use of computers and other technological devices in the education of students. Gone from the curriculum is the art of handwriting; in fact, few students today know how to either write or read even simple handwritten documents.
This allegiance to technological advances has some unintended consequences that include:
1. Youth will not be able to communicate with adults who do not use digital devices and this may rob them of family dialogue and other important interactions.
2. If the art and craft of handwriting is denied to students, an important aspect of their heritage will be lost.
3. Handwriting and visual arts are important aspects of learning that, if excluded, skew education away from a balanced curriculum.
4. It is an erroneous assumption that all children and youth will become technologically literate and have access to computers and cell phones. In many ways we are perpetuating a class society if we don’t understand this distinction.
5. If we fail to follow proven methods of helping our children develop these essential life skills we will be aiding and abetting the “Brave New World” that Huxley and others warned us about. Unwittingly and ironically, through this neglect, we are contributing to the illiteracy of our young.
Character is expressed in many ways in our lives and the beauty of well-crafted handwriting is one of the ways that we can show the uniqueness of our selves; in many ways it is an art form.
Children and youth gain much aesthetic pleasure from being able to receive and send handwritten cards and letters.
After speech, drawing is the next progression in the child’s natural efforts to be understood. Conventionally, these communicative patterns have been followed by using a pencil to convey meaning with the use of words printed and then written on paper.
Please let’s rethink this vital aspect of our education system. Let’s guarantee our children and youth the joy of reading handwritten prose and the opportunity to respond in kind in their own unique way that hand-crafted words allow. I hope some teachers will rise to this challenge and thereby give their students gifts that will last a lifetime.
Dr. Garfield Pennington, Roberts Creek