Historically students were taught how to write using pencil and paper, however, in today’s education settings, students are often taught using computers. Adults are primarily using desktop and mobile technologies to communicate and take notes.
This leads to the question of what kind of effect has this transition to digital had on traditional handwriting?
According to CNN, a 2012 study found 33 percent of people had difficulty reading their own handwriting.
This is a far cry from years ago when students had to reach milestones in cursive writing in order to pass their studies. In days gone by, many hours were spent painfully learning how to correctly form both upper and lower case letters.
So what’s happened that society is now at the point people don’t only have difficulty reading the handwriting of others, but also their own?
Rise of technology
When the written word emerged in society, it was only certain elite groups that did scribing. These scribes painstakingly wrote lengthy texts by hand. Back then there were no ways to duplicate books or other collective writings, so if a second copy was needed, it was done by hand, repeating the initial process. This was done in the name of knowledge and preservation of information.
Over time technology began to evolve and printing presses, typewriters, copy machines and, eventually, computers emerged. This made building text knowledge far more efficient. But as a result, people used less handwriting and instead turned to type.
Dominance of digital-based communication
Over the past two decades, the Internet was introduced to the general public and with this began the massive transition to digital. And with each new development in technology, the art of handwriting has been reduced even further.
Eventually mobile was created, and along with these came texting. This, along with social media, perhaps has had one of the most significant impacts on the loss of cursive, and to a point, printed handwriting.
In the modern day, people have less of a need to physically write down information. It can all be found with the click of a button and messages can be sent in the form of short digital messages. Reminders are not written down, they are on digital calendars. With each new progression, there becomes less and less reason to use handwriting.
The education factor
While digital technology is undoubtedly a factor in the decline of traditional handwriting, other factors could be potentially contributing. Many education budgets have been slashed, leaving schools to have to prioritize what they perceive as being necessary to teach children. Teaching kids cursive is often one of the casualties.
Additionally, with technology dominating society, there are only a limited hours of teaching. Again, priority is placed in teaching children skills they will need. Handwriting is secondary in many education curriculums.
“I remember I hated it [cursive writing] and I told my teacher I thought it was dumb,” said 26-year-old Nicholas Cronquist, who primarily uses typed communication, reported CNN. “I don’t even think I know how to write in cursive anymore.”
Realistically, perhaps most people don’t need it anymore with the rise of digital, but that doesn’t make its demise any more sad. Not to mention it could have other unintended side effects. Some experts say replacing handwriting with typed text can reduce cognitive and motor skills abilities.
“Texting played a role in it because people are trying to write quick short sentences,” said Wendy Carlson, a handwriting expert and forensic document examiner, according to the CNN report. “People aren’t using their minds and they are relying on technology to make the decisions for them.”
As technology rises in use, is cursive writing rapidly becoming a lost art? It seems to be the case.