In Silicon Valley, chalk, notebooks and pencils

The celebration at the end of January of the world day of handwriting, that is to say calligraphy, has gone almost unnoticed in a totally digitized planet, but it happens that in very advanced countries – such as the United States , France and Germany – there is a growing interest in reviving ancient techniques, based on manual writing which, among other advantages it offers, promotes creativity. It is an advance promoted, even, by scientists who run the technological centers of excellence.

“Although it seems too retrospective, we should save the immense educational task of former teachers, for example those of public school reform in our country and the truth is that we are now living, little by little, of course, a return to handwriting. We detect that it develops boys’ fine motor skills better than anything,” says an educator from La Plata.

Fine motor skills refer to the coordination of muscles, nerves and bones to produce small, precise movements. Children with trained fine motor skills will be able to perform delicate professions in adulthood with much greater ease – like that of a surgeon, for example – and the truth is that the level of fine motor skills in children is also used to determine what their level of intellectual development.

Calligraphy is defined as the art of writing letters beautifully and correctly. The word comes from the Greek and breaks down into “kallos”, which means beautiful, and “gràfein”, which means to write.

Experts point out that writing well, learning this craft and correcting forms, also serves to cancel bad habits, as indicated by graphology. Anyone who writes by hand and doesn’t draw the stick of the letter “t” is a potential sloth, they say. Then there is the boy, you have to make him put the stick on the “t”, which the teachers have stopped doing.

This is clear, and this is also the case in countries that are returning to manual writing and the use of “dictations” – in the latter case they are all the rage in France, as we will see later – c is that most contemporary teachers were losing the ancient calligraphic skill.

Ergonomic Grip Aid for Practice/Web Pencil

But the phenomenon exists and is also present in Germany, where every day more people take part in workshops and seminars promoting handwriting: “Most people want to learn to express themselves and make visible their thoughts or feelings with beautiful handwriting, said expert calligrapher Kerstin Carbow, who teaches at an art academy in Hamburg. Teaching calligraphy goes a step further, experts say, as it not only benefits cognitive development but also text comprehension.


Argentine educator and pedagogue Jaim Etcheverry, in an article titled “Writing Responds to an Inner Voice,” argued that “in England, the fountain pen is again being used for students to learn spelling. In France we also consider that we should not do without it, but there the problem is that it is no longer mastered by teachers”.

There is growing interest in the revitalization of ancient techniques, based on handwriting

He goes on to say that “although the adult world is not yet ready to receive the new intelligences of children through technology, the loss of the ability to write in cursive explains the learning disabilities that teachers notice and affect school performance”.

It would not be appropriate to delete other paragraphs from Etcheverry. For example these: “Although it is already clear that computers are an appendage of our being, it should be noted that they promote binary thinking, whereas handwriting is rich, diverse, individual and we different from each other”. On this last point, we know that there is a tenacious propensity not to differ from anyone.

The educator goes on to say, “Children must be educated from early childhood to understand that writing responds to their inner voice and represents an inalienable exercise. Writing systems must coexist precisely because of the quality of writing as a language of the soul that makes people unique. Its abandonment makes the message cold, almost raw, the opposite of cursive writing, which is carrier and source of emotions by revealing the personality, the state of mind “-

For Etcheverry, however, the prospect is not encouraging: “As in so many other aspects of contemporary society, the centrality of time emerges here. A recent Time magazine article titled “Grieving Handwriting” points out that it is a lost art, since, although children enjoy learning it because they see it as a rite of passage, “our goal is to express the thought as quickly as possible. We have abandoned beauty for speed, know-how for efficiency. Cursive writing seems destined to follow the path of Latin: in a short time, we will no longer be able to read it.

Guillermo Jaim Etcheverry: “The school becomes an enlightened crèche” / Web

In Silicon Valley, which is a kind of advanced technological platform in the world, which concentrates the most powerful companies and computer scientists, the scientists who work there have decided that their children will only have contact with PCs once half hour a day. , but for schools to return to blackboards, chalk and notebooks.

Many of those who seem retrograde for advocating a “return to the past” are defending themselves against this attack, citing as an example the decision recently adopted by those who make up the top of technological developments.

The dilemma in reality, and perhaps for now, could only keep those born awake at night in the so-called Gutenberg galaxy of the written and handwritten word. But in reality it loses all meaning compared to young people born in the computer age, who peck at keyboards and, especially now, the tiny letters on mobile phones, accompanied by a multitude of emoticons.


In last Sunday’s edition of La Nación, journalist Guadalupe Treibel wrote an article entitled “Putting out a page: the pleasure of writing by hand”, in which she describes the great success of an initiative in France aimed at revive the classic “dictation”.

“We abandoned beauty for speed, craftsmanship for efficiency”

The remarkable thing, he says, is that the writer Rachid Santaki had the idea of ​​making contact with an astronaut. Tomas Pesquet, from the International Space Station and from the weightless cabin in which he is orbiting, at the request of the intellectual, dictates a fragment of “Un discoque contra el Pacífico” by Marguerite Duras, while below half a thousand French people are busy manually copying Pesquet’s dictation.

The initiative, known in France as “La Dictée Géante”, has received spectacular support and has spread to workshops, stadiums, prisons and other places. Since 2017, dictation is daily and compulsory in French schools.

Asked how he sees the future of handwriting and dictation, writer Santaki replied: “Monumental: breaking world records, reaching atypical places… A good command of the language, this is what makes it possible, for example, to learn to argue and not to resort to violence”. , to integrate and develop professionally, to access all the universes and imaginaries that literature offers us”.

The note concludes by pointing out that this trend has not yet reached Argentina, with the exception of validity, which has begun to be charged in a few private schools. The journalist concludes that “those who, like Santaki, defend dictation assure that it brings other benefits, such as the optimization of punctuation and grammar, the fight against accent deafness; also work on reading and oral comprehension, pronunciation and calligraphy”.

The Spanish poet Pedro Salinas once said that “everyone has his handwriting, his own, when he writes by hand; typing none has it, they are all borrowed”. And he remembered that in the Spanish language the letter was also called “character”, long before computers existed.

Reviewing this data, El País newspaper journalist Javier Rodríguez Marcos said that Salinas anticipated a dilemma, which remains unresolved: “Will the 20th century be the historical arena where the struggle between the pen and the machine will be released decisively?” . Rodríguez Marcos concludes that the answer to this question awaits the 21st century.

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