Trinitas Blog

Some Other Reasons Handwriting Matters

Posted by Ron Gilley on May 7, 2018 8:09:28 AM

business hand and pen signing a contractThis time of year I meet with lots of prospective families as you might imagine. These meetings follow a very different agenda than they might at other schools. Trinitas is not doing school the same way the school down the road is doing school, and so not every family is a good fit for Trinitas—or Trinitas for the family, depending upon perspective. That is as it should be; it comports perfectly with the very different sort of mission we are on. Most private schools are engaged in a growth model; they want as many students as they can get just as quickly as they can get them. At Trinitas, however, we are looking for families that want the same things we want. We are trying to maintain a community of Christian families who have common goals for the education and discipleship of their children.

Last week I met with a family whose children are very excited about the prospect of coming to Trinitas because at their current school they do not get to write much; instead, most of their work is done electronically. Curious? Yes, and on multiple levels, but it is most curious to me that perfectly normal children are longing to write their lessons longhand when they have been given the opportunity to type them all or touch their representation on a screen. I am convinced this longing speaks to our innate desire to create, a desire that reminds us we are made in the image of the Creator.

You may think it a stretch to consider handwriting a form of creating, or more appropriately sub-creating, but I do not think it a stretch at all. Making symbols on paper with graphite or ink to tangibly represent thoughts is most certainly a creation act. God spoke (some may argue sang) the world into being; His thoughts became words that, once spoken, reproduced the tangible essence of the thought in all its living and breathing glory. Of course, we cannot go quite that far because we are only the image of God, not God, but we can make thought take a form. Handwriting, I submit to you, is a fairly pure expression of that—our thoughts, in words, on paper. (We cannot neglect the role language itself plays in this creation act, but that exciting topic will have to wait for another day.)

It is important to remember too that God created in an orderly and beautiful way; for examples, there were not fish before there was water for them, and our standards for beauty come from the proportions and colors and designs we find in things like flowers and sunsets and butterflies. This order and beauty also applies to the sub-creation act of handwriting. Each letter must be formed by the hand on paper in such a way that it accurately represents the letter it stands for; otherwise, it will be mistaken for something else, creating chaos, which is the opposite of order, the opposite of what God did when He created the earth and everything in it. Likewise, letters formed proportionately, touching lines where they should without going over or under, each A looking for all the world like the next A and the next and the next is beautiful. Much discipline is required to create in this way, discipline of mind and body, discipline of emotion, discipline of affections.

How does all this talk about handwriting being a creation act tie back to where I started this conversation? In this way: Trinitas is a different sort of school. An example of that is the importance we place upon handwriting for such reasons as I have mentioned above (along with lots of other good reasons I didn’t take the time to write about today). Some schools have dismissed handwriting all together; others have dismissed cursive handwriting. Their reasons are pragmatic for the most part, and their logic, when followed to its conclusion, betrays their low opinion of humans, which can only result in ever lowering standards. At Trinitas, we view students differently: they are eternal beings, sub-creators, children of the Living God. Their chief end will not be calculated in product-hours, but in how they glorified God and enjoyed Him, even in—and sometimes especially in—handwriting. I tell families frequently that it is hard to compare Trinitas to other schools because we are just doing something very different. That difference can become clear even in an act as simple as handwriting, an act we view as another opportunity for us to imitate our Father.

Topics: Blog Posts, School Life, Classical Education

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