Handwriting-Manifesto-image
A PETITION TO EDUCATIONAL AUTHORITIES

HANDWRITING MANIFESTO

Some good reasons to support and extend the role of handwriting in the set of literacy skills that help citizens meet the modern world

1. Handwriting is a personal, direct and accessible tool.

Given its simplicity, sustainability, and low-tech requirements, handwriting remains a useful tool in countless aspects of daily life—including our digital daily life: handwriting is now moving into new technologies by means of digital pens, digital papers, touch screens, stylus-based smartphones, and many other new interfaces.1

2. Handwriting and digital skills are both important, but handwriting comes first.

In the educational process, keyboarding can generally be introduced when a child’s brain development is able to support efficient bimanual coordination, around 11-12 years old. Conversely, handwriting is a physical process requiring dominant hand fine motor skills that can be trained from the early years. Among the last fine motor skills commonly taught in most schools, handwriting can play an important part in the development of hand-eye coordination.2 3

3. Research shows that handwriting can be an essential and efficient educational tool.

Research in this area clearly shows that learning handwriting can positively influence the early acquisition of reading and writing skills. During early childhood, writing letters improves letter recognition, as shown in brain imaging studies;4 and teaching handwriting leads to improved reading, as shown in instructional studies.5 Studies of young adults also show that taking notes with a pen can help with longer-term retention of concepts and information.6

4. School, university, the workplace and daily life: handwriting is here to stay.

Though IT today often uses voice recognition software, not everything can be said with the spoken word. Indeed, writing (and/or typing) is virtually always required for organising all but the simplest information. Writing notes by hand puts the process of visualising information into the hand of the writer, rather than the designers of software. Handwriting as a form of note-taking serves as a strong tool for the organising of information, on the page and in the brain.7

5. Handwriting can offer a creative outlet.

Whilst handwriting is a challenging area of activity for some, for others its aesthetics can offer a welcome form of creative self-expression and communication.8

6. Handwriting is a socialising activity.

Handwriting can be part of the social contract that ties citizen to citizen: communication in Latin and non-Latin writing systems alike are embedded in cultures, a badge of identity and both are an introduction and a link to complex histories.9 10

7. Contemporary handwriting needs clear teaching and functional models.

Handwriting needs clear teaching based on informed research and an up-skilled and inspiring workforce of teachers who take pride in their knowledge of this simple yet empowering practice. Any handwriting models to be taught at school need to feature a coherent ductus (i.e. stroke direction and stroke sequence), should be as simple and logical as possible, and – since we live in the digital age – they have to be adaptable to the new technologies, and vice versa.11 12

For all these reasons we urge the governments, particularly the Education Ministries, to choose handwriting policies, to establish standards and curricula, to train teachers, to invest in books, materials and supports to favour learning and practice of handwriting.

FIRST SIGNATORIES

Virginia Berninger

Laura Bravar

Gunnlaugur SE Briem

Ewan Clayton

James Clough

Monica Dengo

Nadine Le Bacq

Brody Neuenschwander

Anna Ronchi

Rosemary Sassoon

Angela Webb

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SIGNATURES
COUNTRIES

Táňa Svatošová (CZ) signed the petition on the 13/04/2021.

Manuela Pirola (IT) signed the petition on the 11/04/2021.

Pavla Šoltisová (SK) signed the petition on the 07/04/2021.

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