challenge history pragmatic historian

Saving Handwriting for History

My favorite pen is the BIC Round Stic. I know a lot of people appreciate a smooth-flowing pen that glides with no friction across a page. Me, I like a little friction and the Round Stic provides. Black ink, please, not blue. Red is okay if I’m editing.

My supply of black BIC Round Stics was getting low at home, so I bought a box.

When I got it home, I noticed the following … promotion … on the side of the box. Hmm, maybe “cause” is a more accurate word.

BIC Round Stic pen box with "Fight for Your Write" promotion on the side, November 2019.
BIC Round Stic pen box with “Fight for Your Write” promotion on the side, November 2019.

With its “Fight for Your Write” promotion/cause, BIC is attempting to save handwriting.

The Gen X cynic in me (or is that the middle-age cynic in me?) thinks, well, of course BIC wants to save handwriting. If handwriting goes away, they won’t be able to sell their product.

But, there is more to this than self-preservation or self-interest for BIC.

Handwriting is good for your brain, according to these articles by Psychology Today [] and Forbes.

From a historian’s perspective, the fact that fewer schools are teaching handwriting, particularly cursive handwriting, is tragic. If children don’t learn how to write cursive, it’s going to be much more difficult for them to read cursive. For those of us who can read and write cursive, we struggle with deciphering old documents written in previous forms of cursive as it is. These documents and those with more current cursive will be unintelligible to today’s non-cursive writers.

Once writing becomes unintelligible, history is in danger of being lost. How many of us can read cuneiform?

BIC’s “Fight for Your Write” is on the right track. The website for this promotional cause contains resources for writing (including some for teachers), statistics on its importance, and a list of the abilities handwriting engages. It’s a compact and encouraging campaign. BIC quotes a Hanover Research study that states that practicing handwriting 15 minutes a day “can help cognitive development, motor skills, writing skills, and comprehension.”

That’s not a lot of time for an impressive return, with another major benefit being the ability to read historic handwritten documents. That ability in terms of saving culture is priceless.