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National Handwriting Week: Is That a Joke?


Jan. 23-29 is National Handwriting Week every year, and no, that's not a joke. Though some people think penmanship is an anachronism - hopelessly outdated in this era of technological communication - handwriting is still of crucial importance, and serious business.


National Handwriting Week is timed to go with the birthday of John Hancock, the famous signer of the Declaration of Independence with the razzle-dazzle signature. A big handwriting curriculum publisher, Zaner-Bloser, sponsors a national handwriting contest for kids, and sends the teacher of the winner on a free trip for two to Boston, the home of John Hancock. The student gets prizes worth $1,500 and the school gets a special computer. So no, it's not a joke.


There has been a move afoot for years in schools to get rid of handwriting instruction in the early grades and substitute typing instruction, since the direction of schooling appears to be toward laptops for all, and pencils for none. However, that would be stupid, from what we know about the brainpower that handwriting builds.


According to national handwriting experts, the brain learns to read by visually observing the "strokes" of the letters - vertical, horizontal, bars, loops - so being able to produce those strokes with your own hand is a great way to train your brain to recognize them.


Handwriting also trains the brain in mental processes such as storage and retrieval (memorizing how each letter looks and being able to produce the right one accurately and quickly), manipulating letters, and making those crucial connections between the sounds the letters make, and how they look in written text.


For more about handwriting, see information about the contest:


Here's an interview with a handwriting guru:


And here's some fascinating content about the link between handwriting and personality:


By Susan Darst Williams Grammar Granny 043 2007


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