An argument for handwriting

By Grant Morgan, News Editor

To hell with practicality.

Good handwriting, or “chirography,” is a dying art. Its decline began when that first email was sent in the early ‘70s. Since, the art has regressed continuously, disappearing from school curriculums and public attention alike.

True, there is hardly a need for anything handwritten nowadays. But there is a need for practicality and efficiency—two things that deliberate handwriting does not seemingly provide.

I would mourn to see chirography perish. Therefore I will try to argue why I think that good handwriting is something everyone should practice and aim to perfect, whether cursive (script) or print writing.

Multitudes of arguments exist on this topic and most of them deal with that already-mentioned issue of practicality. However, to bring up a “practicality” argument is to take into consideration the needs and demands of the world. In other words—to take into consideration the context surrounding handwriting.

My arguments do not deal with current context. My arguments deal with chirography’s ever-unchanging beneficence—the goodness that it brings regardless of what era we live in.

Good handwriting is important for three reasons: It reflects an individual’s character, it promotes valuable habits, and it gives us an appreciation of beauty.

First, handwriting reflects our personality. It is who we are on paper.

Does a person prefer the smooth, continuous lines of script or the discontinuity of print? Or curved edges? Or sharp edges?  How about the order and structure of uniformity? There are myriad variables to how one writes, and they all reflect different traits. There is even a field of study dedicated to the subject: graphology.

But what does practiced handwriting portray? What are those self-evident intimations that someone who writes neatly and distinctly possesses? Perhaps attention, studiousness, patience or industry, which are all venerable qualities. The reader can guess what sloppy handwriting portrays. Again, it is who we are on paper.

Second, handwriting dictates valuable habits.

The person who diligently practices their writing is required to slow down and reflect, to sit for long periods of time and focus. The benefits from these habits transcend to other parts of life—especially academics—and have been backed up by studies cited in all major U.S. newspapers and many large-sample professional studies. The general consensus is this: Practicing handwriting improves cognitive abilities.

Third, good handwriting gives us an appreciation of the beautiful.

Chirography is an art form. It is just as much an art form as music, painting, sculpting, dancing, and more. An obsession with practicality, as some may argue that Americans have, can dangerously detract from an individual’s appreciation of art and beauty. At the very least, improving one’s handwriting can return a small portion of that appreciation; it forces us to. And I think we all could use that.

So, I have practiced handwriting for two and a half years now. I began without any consideration of practicality, only the desire to learn a new skill. But I ended with something far more valuable: the unforeseen benefits listed above. And they, I suppose, have turned out practical. Funny how that works.