Sunday, July 1, 2012

Handwriting: The Lost Art

I spent this last week at scout camp and sat in on several merit badge classes that my scouts took. Some of the classes required that the boys write down answers to questions or write a paragraph about their observations. While looking for a lost assignment for one of my scouts, I flipped through a large pile of papers that scouts from all over the state had turned in. I was unprepared for what I saw. I have come to the conclusion that handwriting is a lost art.

My handwriting can be pretty sloppy at times so I admit I may be a hypocrite, but I am shocked at how few kids and teenagers have good handwriting and spelling these days. I'm not just talking about bad handwriting. What I saw was not even remotely legible and was just random symbols and nonsensical scribbles. I'm pretty sure that 100 years ago kids' penmanship was better and they all knew cursive. You could probably find as many kids today who know Latin as you can those who can write in cursive. Some day archaeologists may have to decipher my old journals and school reports in order to understand the mysterious ancient script they are written in.

There are several factors contributing to the decline in penmanship but, ironically, I think technology is the big culprit. Today, kids type their reports and assignments and they frequently text and abbreviate words instead of having to write them out or spell them correctly. E-mail has completely replaced letter writing. I don't even think kids write letters to Santa Claus anymore.

On the bright side, I think we are preparing a generation of future physicians who will be confident and adept at writing prescriptions. I Googled "sloppy handwriting" and the picture of the above prescription came up. My wife is a medical transcriptionist and at a glance she told me it was a prenatal vitamin prescription and it was pretty clear what it was for. I didn't realize she knew Mandarin.

No comments: