Often, handwriting is seen as an aesthetic element of writing. But handwriting has more to it than just aesthetics, writes Shivananda Nayak.
There is a common perception that ‘handwriting is for writing exams’ and that handwriting actually limits the ability to express one’s thoughts. This apparently is reflective of the approach of the educationists today towards handwriting.
A look at ancient Indian system of schooling tells us that the child learnt ‘roopa’ (drawing & painting), ‘lekha’ (reading & writing) and ‘ganana’ (arithmetic’s) as the main subjects. Ancient Indian texts clearly talk about drawing, painting and writing as the modes of expression of our thoughts and emotions. In today’s education system writing is the only way a child is taught to express its thoughts and emotions.
Today drawing and painting are considered art forms or creative skills. But we have failed to understand that a child may be more comfortable using drawing or colours to express its thoughts. Psychologists often use drawing analysis with children apart from colours, play techniques to get an insight into child’s mind.
Children find it easier to draw or use colours than to express in words, oral or written. The reality is writing is a very fine skill and art (even oral expression needs vocabulary). It involves several muscles of the hand and also the fine motor coordination between the hand and the brain. But we try to make our children write from a very young age wherein these fine motor skills have not yet developed.
The average age a child develops adequate skills is about seven years. Today’s education system is completely dependent on the written word, be it learning or for assessment. The load also goes on increasing with the grades (higher classes). But the focus on developing the writing skills is almost negligible. Copywriting is recommended in every school, mostly in lower grades, but seldom practiced seriously.
With poor or no focus on developing writing skills, yet that being the only mode of expression, the student is automatically frustrated. As time passes the child becomes more and more reluctant to write which leads to the deterioration of the handwriting. Additionally other problems can add to poor handwriting. In fact, handwriting problems can be classified into three major categories:
Mechanical issues: Poor pen grip, posture, seating and elbow space .
Physical issues: Lack of muscle coordination, physical disabilities, learning disabilities. Psychological issues: Poor home or school adjustment, parental discord and lack of motivation.
To develop writing skills we emphasise mostly on writing alphabets, words and sentences. But using grapho-cybernetics can be much more effective and enjoyable method. The child needs to be trained and will have to practice handwriting skills till the age of about 12-13 years, to be adequately skilled to express oneself comfortably enough.
To give you an analogy, after adequate practice a painter or a sand artist will be able to create his/her art as the music is played. The same can not be done by a beginner who has not enough practice.
In this era of computers and technology and given the above situation, we have deliberately chosen to neglect handwriting. Many a students say “we have to write as long as we are in college”, which is well reflected by the adults, who would say “we hardly write today, except for signing”. In the process we are on the verge of loosing an excellent tool and skill.
Handwriting can be a wonderful tool for overcoming stress and also emotional problems. We all know about people being asked to write diary when they have emotional problems. The Indian practice of “Likhita Nama Japa” is another fine example for using handwriting.
(The writer is graphologist and corporate soft-skills trainer)