"Is Penmanship Being Written Off?"

I sat down this morning with a hot cup of coffee to watch my favorite weekend news show, “CBS Sunday Morning”.  I watch this show on a regular basis, and I always enjoy the variety of stories and correspondents, but this morning was different.  I had no idea that the story I was about to watch would so perfectly fit with my life, and the very heart of Sign With Prestige.  

The story that aired, originally on January 23rd, 2011 was “Is Penmanship Being Written Off?” and covers the decline in penmanship in schools as well as the affects on childrens’ ability to learn to speak and read. Several experts are interviewed in the piece, and they all seem quite knowledgeable.  However, I do disagree with one gentleman’s assertion that children would probably be no worse off if they were only taught to type instead of write.  

Having previously worked in a bank, I have seen the increased wait time that customers had to go through when they did not have a valid signature.  As a teller, we were required to have a valid signature on all checks/documents being submitted to us and block print is not considered to be a valid signature.  A great deal of time and effort, compared to running a regular transaction with a valid signature, had to be devoted to ensure that all documents were valid and to confirm that the person in front of us was legitimately unable to sign their name.  

Additionally, we are judged on our handwriting.  Consider the section of the piece on Sunday Morning that reviews when former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, wrote a letter to a mother of deceased soldier killed in Afghanistan.  Poor handwriting caused quite the uproar and a great deal of embarrassment for the Prime Minister.  If handwriting really doesn’t matter, then why is it that such a simple gesture was turned into a focal issue for the former prime minister?  Furthermore, why couldn’t the prime minister have simply typed his letter instead of writing it by hand?  

I would suggest that it is because handwriting does matter.  Sending a letter in one’s own handwriting adds a personal touch that cannot be duplicated by any computer font, and a sense of closeness that cannot be matched even by the greatest speed of e-mail.  Can you imagine if the letters that your father/grandfather sent your mother/grandmother during World War II had been typed?  Would those letters still be something that had been kept for over half a century?  I highly doubt that those letters would have reached through time and space in quite the same way.  Recipients of those letters would not have felt the presence of their loved ones, even in their absence, nor been able to hear their words written on the page as if spoken from their very mouth.  

Handwriting isn’t just a functional experience meant to transmit data from one person to another.  It is self-expression in it’s truest form, a way to distinguish oneself from the rest of humanity, and one of the best ways to impact those around you.  At Sign With Prestige, we always say “The worst handwritten note trumps e-mail any day.” and that remains true.  But why settle for writing “the worst handwritten note”?  

To view the story from CBS Sunday Morning, click on this link: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/01/23/sunday/main7274525.shtml

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