I have been an academician for over two decades. I have closely observed children and their behavior. Never have I seen them as troubled as post-lockdown. The two-year stay at home, uncertainty, grief all around, and lack of socialization have brought a sea change in their behavior and thought process. To add to this they had the phone or the laptop as a close friend for a long. They learned a lot on their own, discovered a lot, and used/ misused the gadget in many ways leading to a lot of half-baked information that they could gather from these available sources. With no regular school and daily routine, they spent a lot of time chatting with friends. This was very different from the socializing process at school. In fact when the children came back after the lockdown, many had difficulty communicating with friends and teachers. I saw a regression of almost two years.
This learning and socializing gap will take some more time for the children to get back to normalcy. Many had almost forgotten how to write properly, yes even the 7th graders. Handwriting reveals the mental makeup of a person. Post lockdown, I saw disturbed handwriting. I saw ill-formed letters, bouncy baselines, and incomplete sentence formations. Punctuations too were missing. There was lower focus and concentration. The I-dots were often missing, reflecting absent-mindedness.
These children need counseling now more than ever before. They are confused and lack proper guidance. I do not blame the parents as they too went through a lot of turmoil during the covid times. They are more short-tempered and anxious than ever before; passing on their worries and anxieties to the child.
Writing a page each night just before going to sleep is itself therapeutic. It works on the mind and calms it down. I have often been asked why doctors’ writing is not legible. Doctors are busy and in a hurry. Their actual handwriting may not be the same as that on a prescription. The prescription is actually for the chemist, not the patient. Having said that, I must add that all doctors do not have illegible writing; in fact, many have the most organized script showing high intelligence. That is just a writing we are more often exposed to. For example, how many of us encounter an architect’s writing or for that matter an engineer’s writing several times a year? So it would only be fair not to generalize and label the poor doctors.
Handwriting helps a child focus better. It also helps in greater retention. It activates certain regions of the brain; regions that are responsible for thinking, reasoning, language, and working memory. The cingulate cortex in the frontal lobes is the part responsible for triggering these actions. Our brain’s cognitive, motor, and emotional areas all work together to help us do a seemingly simple writing process. Typing the answer on a laptop and writing on paper are two completely different tasks. While typing, one may have often seen people converse or listen to music too. To write down something, on the other hand, requires a lot of brain function, effort, and presence of mind. Unlike the spell check of a computer, handwritten work is a work of pure labor and effort. Due to a lack of writing among adults, many face difficulty in remembering the right spelling!
I prefer the pen. There is something elemental about the glide and flow of nib and ink on paper.