Will handwriting be able to endure against typing?

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Nicole Schroeder

The sounds of students tapping on keyboards fills Jennifer Black-Cone’s Creative Writing classroom. Not one student uses a pen and paper, a sight that is becoming all too common in schools throughout the United States.
In RBHS, nearly 47 percent of students say they prefer typing over handwriting on school assignments, according to a recent survey of 180 students by The Rock.
Black-Cone said though her students write by hand occasionally, all final projects she assigns are typed. This requires her students mainly to use keyboards.
“In creative writing, we hand write in-class quick writes,” Black-Cone said. “All other work is typed … because most handwriting is … difficult to read and slows down my grading.”
Despite her preference for typed projects, however, Black-Cone said she still thinks the ability to write by hand is vital for students, and even views it as an art form.
“I truly believe it is an important skill,” Black-Cone said. “There are actual studies that verify the importance of the tactile connection between hand and brain that enhance learning, comprehension and memory.”
In fact, according to an April 2014 study in Psychological Science, students who took notes by hand scored consistently better on conceptual questions on a lecture than those who took notes on laptops, primarily because students who used laptops took more notes verbatim than those who wrote longhand.
Yet senior John Basa said although he learned to write by hand in kindergarten, he never learned to write cursive. Further, he said his class transitioned to typing on computers by fifth grade and since then he has found himself writing things by hand much less frequently.
“Ever since I finished my English courses, I don’t write as much, actually. We definitely type more in most of my classes now,” Basa said. “Technology is taking over, I feel like.”“There are actual studies that verify the importance of the tactile connection between hand and brain that enhance learning, comprehension and memory.”
—Creative Writing teacher Jennifer Black-ConeSuch assumptions are not out of place. As of 2010, 45 states and the District of Columbia  have implemented Common Core standards in their public school systems. The standards make no mention of handwriting or cursive, leading many schools to neglect the curriculum altogether. A 2013 survey by teacher supply retailer Really Good Stuff revealed that nearly 41 percent of elementary school teachers no longer incorporate cursive into their lessons.As part of the other 59 percent of elementary school teachers still incorporating handwriting into their curriculum, Fleming Middle School teacher John Cowens from Grants Pass, Oregon learned handwriting analysis from a friend and utilizes the skills often to understand the personalities of his students and other writers he may come across. Such a connection between the reader and writer, he said, is often lost when a document is typed rather than handwritten.
“Handwriting leaves … visual cues such as pressure of the pen on paper, spacing between letters … and letter formation that indicates mood and temperament,” Cowens said. “Typing … can reveal personality of the writer, but doesn’t go as deep as graphology.”
While Cowens has seen handwriting’s recent decline in school systems, he doesn’t believe it will completely disappear from society simply because of the growing popularity of typing.“I don’t believe we’ll lose too much by handwriting less and typing more. People still write by hand in advertising, graffiti, and making some signs,” Cowens said. “Technology is rapidly changing societies. Handwriting will always be around, but not as much in the 21st century.”
Sophomore Timofey Kolenikov said he believes longhand writing will continue to be used in future generations, though its importance in society will continue to decrease with the use of computers and tablets.“Ever since I finished my English courses, I don’t write as much, actually. We definitely type more in most of my classes now. Technology is taking over, I feel like.”
—Senior John Basa“Handwriting will persist in the form of personal signatures,” Kolenikov said, “[but] handwriting is slowly being taken over by the computer as a venue for writing. It is easier for many to type rather than to write by hand.”
However, Kolenikov said he doesn’t necessarily think handwriting’s disappearance is bad. On the contrary, he said he believes schools should continue to focus on typing in their curriculum instead of handwriting.
“I think that handwriting should be gotten rid of in favor of the computer, as a computer is much more versatile,” Kolenikov said. “Future generations should be taught to effectively use a computer.”
There is merit to Kolenikov’s viewpoint. In 1993 a study by the American College Testing program determined students who typed the essay portion of their tests scored significantly higher than students who wrote the essays by hand on standardized writing assessments.
While authors of the study noted that students choosing to type their essays, “demonstrated confidence in their keyboard abilities,” that could be attributed to proficient education in writing, the results still clearly showed that typed essays received higher scores on the writer’s ability to follow the prompt and more positive comments on the paper’s cohesiveness than their handwritten counterparts.
Even with these findings, however, standardized-testing agencies such as the ACT program and the College Board still require portions of the assessment to be handwritten. Basa said schools should return handwriting to the required curriculum, especially because of the standardized tests that still require longhand writing.
“I think classes should go back to writing, because you know how in the ACT or SAT—in the tests that we have to write in, I think that we definitely need to go back to [handwriting],” Basa said. “Now in classes we have to type essays instead of writing them.”
Despite handwriting’s declining prevalence in schools, Black-Cone said she doesn’t think it will ever disappear completely from society, just as cooking with a stove didn’t disappear with the invention of the microwave. Still, she said it is necessary for people to recognize handwriting is fading in order to better preserve the art form.
“We must fight to keep [handwriting] a part of our own education,” Black-Cone said. “Skills need to be taught for all areas of life that do not require a power source. Communication is one of our primary resources.”
In Cowen’s opinion, however, there are many other problems to worry about rather than the loss of handwriting.
“Handwriting will be always be around and treasured and so will keyboarding and voice commanding,” Cowens said. “I am more concerned about over-populating Earth, producing food … outbreaks of diseases, [and] hatred among humans. Why are humans becoming a plague on this beautiful and fragile planet?”

art by Claire Simon
art by Claire Simon
By Nicole Schroeder