The Handwriting Disconnect

Most of the time the real beauty of pen and paper is that it just works. We don’t think about tuning anything, or whether it will start. We grab them, use them, and forget them. It makes for a great experience as the user, but as a blogger of these things it makes for a shortage of material sometimes.

Not only do we have extremely reliable writing instruments, but a huge variety of them. A person could probably choose a different instrument every day for more than a year and not use the same one twice. Just woodcase pencils alone would probably take a month. There’s even new ones being funded on Kickstarter – quite a few – because there’s still unmet demand.

All of them work, they work well, and we take them for granted. So much so that we’ve even got the hubris to think that we don’t really even use them anymore. We think we don’t need to teach kids to write by hand, because people don’t think they will need to know how.

I see that message in an article in one form or another almost every day. But I have yet to go to a meeting where even the person who keeps all their notes on a computer hasn’t also brought paper and something to write with. I haven’t yet been to a sit-down restaurant in the US where the person didn’t take my order on paper. I have yet to go to a medical appointment of any kind, even to the vet without being handed a clipboard and pen and a form to fill out.

Nearly as often as the handwriting-dead message, I see the we’ve-added-handwriting-recognition-to-this-device announcement. Even the devices that we’re told supplant the need for handwriting need to accept it as input.

We’ve got a huge and growing variety of tools for a skill that many people still use and we’re going to stop teaching it to our kids? 

Does anyone else see the disconnect here?

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