Posted on 3 Comments

The Lost Art of Writing Letters

A recent study in the UK showed some interesting statistics (and boy, did they make me feel old!) about teens and writing letters. A third of the teens surveyed said they had never even (hand)written a letter and half of them had never written so much as a thank you note or letter. And get this: one in ten said they didn’t even own a pen.

Let that sink in for a bit. Handwriting, it seems, is a lost art. Gone are the handwritten love letters, the cheesy poems decorated with little red hearts, but also the Christmas cards, a thank you note for a special gift…

When asked, teens stated that handwriting was too slow and outdated. They prefer texting of course, with its abbreviations and communicating through emoticons, as well as communicating through social media.

In itself, this may seem like an understandable result of progress. But if we look at the bigger picture, there’s more at stake. It’s getting harder and harder for teens to concentrate, to find quiet time, slow time. The world around time moves so fast, and they get sucked in.

Slow and quiet times, however, are crucial for us as humans. Not only do they provide the necessary break for our brains to recover, they also help us to formulate ideas, connect with our own thoughts, mull things over. And more importantly: they’re also our prime way of communicating with God.

If we want our students to find the slow time to hear God’s voice, whether in prayer or through Bible study and mediation, we need to help them recover that skill of slowing down. Handwriting is just one way of doing that, but it’s a powerful one.

Here are some ideas to use handwriting to help your students slow down:

  • Set the example by sending your students handwritten cards or letters and ask your leaders to do the same
  • Organize an activity where students get to write a thank you note to their parents, teachers, coach, or anyone else important in their lives
  • Ask students to take notes on paper during a study
  • When discussing a New Testament letter, explain how letters were written in that time. Maybe even challenge the students to copy a short letter from the Bible by hand?
  • Organize a fun activity where students learn about calligraphy (probably more aimed at girls than boys) and how beautiful handwriting can be
  • Introduce students to the concept of creative Bible journaling, where they can draw, calligraphy, write notes, or do anything else creative in their Bible

Any more activities you can think of? How do you help your students slow down?

Posted on 3 Comments

3 thoughts on “The Lost Art of Writing Letters

  1. Thanks for this, Rachel. I recently invested in a set of cheap composition books for my students. Ostensibly, this was to avoid purchasing the glitzy “workbooks” for the curriculum we’re using, but you’re making me think of more regular, intentional uses for them.

    We gave these out some years ago at a weekend retreat and urged youth to write or draw whatever they wanted in them throughout the weekend. One student filled the entire book before the weekend was up.

    1. Not all of your students will appreciate this, but I’m sure it will turn out to be life-changing for others. I’d love to hear what you’ve decided to do with these!

  2. I’ve actually led large groups of students through contemplative meditations several time. I’ve done Ignatius Spiritual Exercises, Lectio Divina, Mindfulness Exercises, and some other meditations. It doesn’t connect with everyone, some students are in tears at the end and some students fell asleep but even the students it didn’t connect with mentioned that it was just nice to sit and close their eyes for 10-15 minutes.

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