Last week I watched “New Lives in the Wild,” a programme that features people who have decided to live life in the wildest parts of Britain. This week’s episode focussed on an author who has given up money and all technology to live in a remote part of Ireland. Despite the initial appeal, it did make me realise how much I appreciate the comforts of 21st century living!
Also, it caused me to consider the fundamental power of the written and especially the handwritten word. In our lockdown existence we have become ever more reliant on communicating via our screens. It is easy to dash off an email, send a brief text or message, or upload or post in an instant. The use of pen, pencil and paper is becoming ever more rare.
The Irish author, having forsaken all tech, writes his books with a paper and pencil. Writing by hand is so very personal; knowing delete is unavailable adds extra thought to word choices. The style of your writing can give insight into your character and thoughts; crafting each word and watching it flow from your fingertips makes a very physiological connection between you and your writing. Receipt of a handwritten letter or card gives immense joy and shows a great deal of personal effort and investment by the sender.
In our increasingly virtual world, with burgeoning AI, the art of writing by hand can be overlooked, undervalued and feel obsolete. Why should we continue to teach handwriting and the use of ink pens? Leaving aside the kinaesthetic benefits of writing for spelling, I believe that now, more than ever, we need to ensure we foster individuality and develop creativity. Handwriting allows heart and mind to connect seamlessly so that we can express our deepest thoughts and feelings and never lose touch with our common humanity. Currently, as our life is restricted and increasingly homogenous, I would urge you to pick up a pen and write from the heart to someone you love.
I would like to thank all the staff for all their hard work in continuing to provide an excellent education for all our pupils. Thank you too to everyone for helping to keep everyone safe and well during this lockdown. Please ensure you have a real rest and take time to relax this week.
Warm and safe half term wishes.