Handwriting and the Pandemic

Caption: An example of my barely legible handwriting. It suffered a significant downgrade during the pandemic. Photo by Abe Nelson.

These past couple years have been times of extreme change and adaptation for everyone. Students and teachers had to first adapt to online school and then transition back to in-person school. After arriving back in school this fall, I realized how little I had written in the previous year; during the pandemic my handwriting went from sloppy to illegible.

As with anything, practice makes perfect, and students certainly didn’t get practice writing by hand last year. With the pandemic switching schoolwork to Google Docs, most students only picked up a pencil a couple of times in the last year and a half. “During the pandemic, handwriting was much less important for my schoolwork,” says sophomore Aidan Ehrismann.

Going forward, Ehrismann hopes to see more digital assignments. “I definitely think that it is more convenient [and] efficient to type long assignments,” he says. Beyond efficiency, there are other benefits. Now that every student has their own chromebook, teachers can save paper by keeping work digital. Additionally, having more content available online makes it easier for students to keep up on missed assignments while absent.

That being said, handwriting is an important skill to have. Many studies, including a recent one by John Hopkins University, show that writing by hand allows students to memorize content much more efficiently than typing on a keyboard. The digital age has greatly simplified the amount of information that we must keep in our heads, offloading things like addresses and phone numbers to our devices. It has yet to be seen whether handwriting will become a thing of the past.

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