When I was younger, I can recall working very hard to write “perfect” letters. For one, I was a little girl and little girls were supposed to have better handwriting than boys, and also, my mother had the most beautiful penmanship; I could have sworn she was a letter artist. When I began to learn cursive in third grade, I practiced my letters at every opportunity. I even asked my mother to teach me my capital letters ahead of class because I was too impatient to wait until my teacher got to the letter “L.” I also recall throwing a tantrum about the fact that no matter how pretty my letters were, my name didn’t look as pretty as some of the girls, but that was just because the letter “S” had some awesome loops.
Today, I think penmanship has become one of the more underappreciated skills. A lot of this has to do with the education leaders coming out in support of nixing cursive from the curriculum, in favor of providing children with the time to learn how to type quickly. Personally, I think moving away from penmanship will have a negative impact on the students. Research has proven that improved handwriting benefits cognitive development and motor skills. Longhand can also provide people with a symbol for their personality. Granted, you could spend your time going through the various fonts in Word to give you different effects, but it doesn’t come from you.
One of the biggest reasons to keep your penmanship nice and neat is that the world is, in many ways, still based on first impressions. When you have to fill out a resume by hand and your handwriting is barely legible, the recruiter will most likely be unimpressed. Furthermore, if you have to sign your name somewhere and you print your name rather than write it in cursive, your odds aren’t looking any better. If you leave a list for someone to do and your handwriting is so bad that the person can hardly make out what you have instructed, you can’t be upset if they do a task wrong because they couldn’t make out the requests. And not long ago, CNN reported on a study that showed physician penmanship errors had caused more than 7,000 deaths.
Loving to type is not a crime, but there are still times in the world where you have to write long-handed. It’s important to make sure that when you do, you are writing well. Taking the time to make a list on paper every now and then can give you enough practice that you don’t have to worry about turning into a person whose penmanship mirrors that of a toddler’s scribbles.