As cursive handwriting continues to be dropped from school curricula, how does the move from handwriting towards “keyboarding” affect the ways in which we create? Regardless if you feel handwriting is necessary or not, below are three TEDx talks that speak to the importance of preserving the tradition of putting pen or pencil to paper.
The Secret Life of the Pencil | Alex Hammond | TEDxClapham
“This single object has written symphonies, calculated algorithms, sketched a building, designed a bridge, written a sonnet, sketched a portrait, designed lamps,” says Alex Hammond during his TEDxClapham talk. “It costs next to nothing, never runs out of power and there’s an estimated 14 billion produced globally each year.” Hammond, along with photographer Mike Tinney, are the founders of The Secret Life of the Pencil project, a photographic project that seeks to celebrate the modest writing tool. They partnered with the charity Children in Crisis, which helps children dealing with the effects of conflict and civil war by providing “thinking skills, along with pens, pencils and paper; to give the opportunity to some of the less fortunate to flourish, learn, create and design.” What is the pencil’s secret? “Modesty, accessibility and its ability to bridge the gap between hand and paper so effectively,” Hammond says.
Why write? Penmanship for the 21st Century | Jake Weidmann | TEDxMileHigh
“A pen is a simple thing isn’t it?” says Jake Weidmann during his TEDxMileHigh talk. “It doesn’t have a battery or a motherboard; it doesn’t require a service plan or a satellite orbiting the Earth in order to function. It’s never smarter than you are … and if you were to drop it in water or any distance higher than your knee it wouldn’t be destroyed.” Weidmann is the youngest person to receive his Master Penman certificate and feels the lack of handwriting classes in schools has devalued its worth. “Like everything else in our culture, we declare its value by what we teach or do not teach our children,” he says.
Man has been writing by hand for thousands of years and Weidmann takes us through the profound history of penmanship and its incredible achievements. Still, he insists he isn’t looking to lessen the importance of technology. “One thing we need to stop doing is putting technology and handwriting in opposing corners,” he says. “I do believe that typing is a very fundamental tool that children do need to learn; however, they should not be learning it at the expense of handwriting … we need to be a good steward of both.”
Writing Can be Therapeutic | Deb Warnat | TEDxBirmingham
Deb Warnat describes how, as a child, she was able to cope with an alcoholic father by disappearing. “Minimizing myself was my only way to escape,” she says during her TEDxBirmingham talk, adding that school was where she was able to flourish. In fifth grade she was introduced to calligraphy, something that “changed my world,” she says. She says learning the skills helped to heal her and that calligraphy can be therapeutic for anyone. “Writing changes you and develops your brain without [you] even knowing it,” she says. “Where has the golden era gone where we took time and pride in writing?”