In one sense we all write more. In one sense we all write less.

Go back fifty years and look at our society, and you find a world in which most people wrote very little. Yes, children were taught to write at school and yes, lots of people sent out thank you letters after Christmas and birthdays, plus some comments on picture postcards, but not too much else. The notion of people sitting at home and writing every day was something to be marvelled at.

Now lots of people do write every day. From home, from work, on the train, while out with their partner for a meal… there is a tendency to write more reports (because it is so easy to circulate them) as well as to write about oneself and one’s life on Facebook, on blogs, on Twitter and so on.

The problem is that so much of this writing is of so little value.

Writing, when done with a bit of thought and analysis, has a huge impact on all of us. It helps us make sense of our world, our past, our present and even our future. It brings our worlds into focus.

Except that if we are writing trivia about this moment, the Indian meal we are having, who we are with and so on (which is to say simple reports rather than insights) it actually does nothing except use up another fraction of a gigabyte on a computer system somewhere in Google HQ.

Writing can bring us fully alive through consideration of the options, but today’s snapshot writing on Twitter reduces the world to 140 characters – and actually the world can’t be reduced to 140 characters.

Writing in the traditional sense – the sort of writing that considers the past and the future and one’s place within it – is hugely beneficial, and I think it is probably true to say that more people than ever before are doing this.

But sadly much of this writing is lost when a computer goes bang or is scrapped for an upgrade. And that’s why we are slowly seeing more typescripts of diaries being stored. Diaries that are full of meaningful insights of everyday life, preserved for one’s children and grandchildren – our only way of gaining immortality.

We are so easily side tracked by procrastination. However, when we stop and start to consider what it is that makes us procrastinate then we can start to get somewhere. This in turn allows us to identify a blockage in our lives. Then we can start writing again and see where we are going.

We follow the journey.

Writing when done properly gives us a chance to openly reflect on what we think and how we feel, and this writing does need to be preserved in a non-digital fashion so it stands a chance of being there for the future.

I am delighted that we are storing such writings in boxes marked “for my grandchildren”. At last we are seeing the benefits of computerisation. The computer helps us to write more readily, and then allows us to print out the results for those who follow us to read. It is an honour to be part of this process.

If you have documents you wish to store in the West Midlands, we can help.

You can find more information on our website or by calling us on 0800 810 1125.

Should schools teach touch typing or cursive writing to students?

It appears that fewer children are being taught handwriting to the highest level in schools, which I guess we can understand because of computerisation.

And interestingly, Microsoft has reported that 30% of British companies won’t hire a person who can’t touch type, which suggests that schools are moving into teaching touch typing.

Except that 41% of British employers say that not enough time is spent at school teaching typing skills.

All of which is a bit puzzling. When it comes to written communication there are only three things schools can do. They can teach handwriting or they can teach keyboard skills, or they can do both. To do neither seems to me not to be a good choice.

But there is a particularly sound reason for teaching handwriting to a high level, even in this age of digital communication, and that is because there is a clear connection between handwriting and brain development.

To be clear, this connection relates not only to the development of fine motor skills, but also to the development of how children learn overall. Those who have been taught handwriting skills – particularly cursive handwriting – develop much further and much more quickly than those who have not.

In a study conducted by psychologists and cognitive scientists at Indiana University, children who printed letters instead of just seeing and saying them showed brain activity more in keeping with adults than children.

In another study at the University of Washington, primary school children were found to write better sentences and wrote more and faster when using a pen and paper than when using a keyboard.

Rather oddly, schools involved in these studies which taught cursive writing only found that in later life their ex-students remembered information better when they copied a paragraph in cursive compared to both copying using printing or copying on a keyboard.

Put all this information together and the situation in education seems rather strange. Only around 10% of schools in England make any attempt to teach keyboard skills (which would have the benefit of helping the children get better jobs) and only about the same number teach cursive writing (which enhance motor skills and intellectual development).

Handwriting is taught, but not in the cursive manner. Computer skills are taught, but not touch typing.

However there does seem to be an increase in both the teaching of touch typing and cursive handwriting in schools of late.

Of course, I take particular notice of what is printed on paper and then needs to be stored, and that does not include much in the way of exercises written out in cursive script or typed out to help improve touch typing.

But occasionally we do have such material put in store, either in relation to handwriting competitions or to keyboard skills exams, where papers need to be held for a while.

I really hope we get more such materials to store. There is a certain joy in cursive handwriting, and I find these days the handwriting of most adults is utterly appalling. And although most teenagers claim that they can type, the reality is that they can’t. What they do is look up and down at the text to be copied rather than keep their eyes on the text while operating their hands independently.

As in so many areas of life, it seems that computers don’t replace what we have done before but instead offer different possibilities.

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Alternatively, call us on 0800 810 1125 for more information.