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When asked, teens stated that handwriting was too slow and outdated.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