After turning my last blog from training surgeons with Wii games to a concern about my lack of ability to use a pen I decided to do a little homework. The definition of writing is evolving – for good or bad.
If you fill a room with people of different ages and occupations and ask them to define writing I’m guessing you’ll get very different answers. I do know that writing is not something we do with our thumbs but there’s a segment of our population who can text with their thumbs faster than I can write. I text and I’m an old school texter because I text in complete sentences with proper spelling – after all if a word has eight letters all eight letters deserve to be used.
Handwriting used to be an art. Think about our Declaration of Independence. The document is suitable for framing (which is a good thing since it’s been on display for a couple hundred years). Every signature on the document is legible and every signer was risking his life by signing but made his signature legible anyway, do you think you could identify the signature of 20 random people in 2013…not from the circles I run in.
Did you know that 40 states have removed cursive from the core curriculum and replaced it with keyboarding. A study by the University of Indiana found that children who practiced writing by hand had neural activity that was more advanced and adult like than children who simply looked at letters. Researchers also found that students who used a pencil wrote more words and expressed more ideas than when using a keyboard.
In the health care setting we’ve replaced the paper chart with the electronic medical record and I’ll be one of the first to say that move has increased patient safety and improved efficiency. Health care workers have notoriously sloppy handwriting (note I did not say doctors) and the “slop” was a natural result of the large volume of writing that was required. The electronic record has improved patient safety and efficiency because there is no more guesswork when trying to figure out what type of medication was ordered and the electronic system provides prompts to improve the thoroughness of documentation.
I handwrite thank you notes to staff when recognizing them for a job well done and I believe they appreciate it. If I look at my box of mementos from across the years I don’t have any typed notes but I do have handwritten notes. Those notes are special because of the content but also because they’re handwritten.
Times New Roman is Times New Roman no matter which word processor you use but your handwriting is unique to you and handwriting is almost like a finger print and those who know you well will identify your handwriting to you so maybe we should spend a little more time making sure those who matter to us most know our handwriting.