Do you think Writing is on the Decline ?

We were able to announce the programmed decline in writing handwritten because of all the digital tools. However, nothing is less certain. 

Never has so much been written as since the internet, e-mail and telephone text messages have existed.


I therefore propose 2 articles on this theme:

  • the 1st, which I wrote myself, published this week

  • The 2nd, translated from a magazine article in English, which will be published next week.


Old-fashioned writing?

 On August 22, 2017, the newspaper Le Monde devoted an article to the boom in SMS and other messaging. 

10 billion messages per day on Facebook worldwide, 280 SMS per person per month in France are exchanged.

Teenagers write 83 per day, 2,500 per month.


When asked, young people explained that it was not for economy, but by preference: less intrusive, less stressful than the phone call, the SMS is somehow more polite than and almost as fast as the word.

A mother even recognized in him the typical qualities of writing:  “Orally, I can stammer, how much does it cost to make a Wikipedia page look for my words. In writing, I take the time to be understood. "


After all, it is not that difficult to write...


Manual writing forsaken

It is true that manual writing is increasingly neglected.


The Christmas wishes or Happy New Year are now made increasingly by email or mail for purists.

The postcards summer have lost their charm since we send them by SMS.


The handwriting seems to become obsolete, prompting some governments, such as in Denmark, minimize or forget his learning. Or like in Finland.


As proof, at the end of 2013 in the United States, 45 states withdrew cursive writing from their school curriculum.

A first step towards the end of manual writing, you might say!


It is true that we use less and less pens / pencils and more and more the computer or the cell phones to leave us messages or to write our work. As for this blog.


Personally, I find it sad that handwriting is becoming obsolete.

But, it is clear that the use of handwriting, despite the evolution of technologies, is not obsolete.

But, it is legitimate to ask this question: is it still useful to teach children to write with a pen?


In the workplace, those who need to write will almost always use an Ordinate r office, right?

As for letters, the number of which keeps decreasing year after year, who will still have fun writing well-designed letters when sending an email only takes a few minutes and it arrives instantly, right?



The finding

When I was in middle school or high school, that is, in the 70s and 80s, we wrote a lot. We did indeed fill our notebooks. But, over the past twenty years, the learning that comes from writing and copying has been neglected in favor of photocopies or planned courses.


The massive use of photocopies has compounded this problem.

Teachers, including myself, find that young people are often unable to write quickly and well, without fail, which handicaps students in difficulty.


The learning of handwriting may have been considered old fashioned. Learning to write is basic learning. To copy or take notes, you have to be able to go quickly and have a real 'cursively' while remaining readable.


Teachers no longer wait for students who write too slowly.

Which ultimately disgusts young people when it comes to writing.



What is writing?

Writing is a means of communication and an act of communication. It must therefore respect a code. To write, it is a question of putting in place various skills:

  • Do the right thing

  • Use the different media

  • Adapt to different materials


The writing is, in fact, only a succession of drawings:

  • Curls

  • Cuts

  • Circles

  • Bridges


We then connect these drawings to make them take shape.

We then develop our own way of writing.


It was only when we were able to automate all the gestures that we had access to writing. This allowed us to implement, then, a very extensive vocabulary. Then we were able to communicate with each other.


When we write, we are meeting a written standard. For French, from left to right. And on horizontal lines. We must be efficient, fast and moreover readable. We owe it to ourselves to respect ourselves and our recipient, by bringing care and a certain form of politeness in our writings. Our writings reflect our personality. It remains a subjective notion, but it reflects reality.


Overall, writing is a demanding but individual act. It requires permanent efforts, from an early age.



Manual writing or virtual writing?

My generation learned to write in school and only learned about computers as an adult. Personally, I was able to use my first word processor when I passed my teaching exam to write my thesis. This dates back to 1988.


My children's generation grew up with computers. But these young people did not have free access until around their teenage years.

Will my grandchildren's generation learn to “hire wiki writers” with a keyboard, touchscreen, or other electronic gadget?


Or will speech recognition make such progress that they won't learn to write at all, just need to learn to read? Would it be a problem to drop handwriting and replace it with typography?


We can ask ourselves: So what?

We gave up:

  • Clay tablets

  • The papyrus

  • Parchment

  • Lead printing

  • Photocomposition, etc.


So why would we hold on to our pens? Out of pure pastis? Out of nostalgia? Is handwriting moribund?


As a teacher, I ask myself these questions:

  • Do we continue to waste a lot of time teaching our students to trace the letters of our alphabet?

  • Or would we do better to devote the few hours of teaching we have left to more essential knowledge?


The questions are asked. And do and will debate.


For the moment, the need to learn to write by hand obviously seems linked to the material conditions of schools.

  • They do not have enough computer equipment to equip all the students.

  • Teachers are not trained for this.

  • The necessary software is not edited.

  • Current ratings are still not digital.


Candidates for exams or competitions therefore always write by hand. For hours at a time.


Nevertheless, it is reasonable to think that one day all these technical obstacles can and should be removed in the relatively near future.



Writing: An essential skill for memory

Thinking about it more deeply, writing activates our memory. On the eve of an exam or a written question (!!), we all wrote multiple “anti-dry” hidden on the left and on the right.

In the fear of making we discover.

Very often we did not use them. We were able to work without.


But what better example than the film “les Sous-Douse pass the bac” by Claude Zaidi in 1980!

The students of this private course competed in feats and feats to hide the anti-dry ones of the BAC.


So these famous anti-dryness proved to us that we had memorized our lessons. This proves that writing facilitates memory. Our kinesthetic memory.


At a time when, all the time, at school or in society, we are talking about skills, it is obvious to me that it is crucial not to give up the ability to write by hand. Because, suddenly, that would make a real skill disappear, much more essential than many items present in the evaluation booklets!


In the April 2017 issue of the journal “Psychological science”, two researchers compared the respective advantages of handwriting and the keyboard for note taking. According to them, even when the computer is only used for taking notes, it would be less beneficial for the learning process.


Those who take notes on the keyboard would tend to transcribe everything, while those who write down by hand, would already select the important information to transcribe, which would be more efficient.

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