What is the benefits of writing skills in the 21st century?

Several students learning writing skills in a classroom

As we reflect on the evolution of written communication, from etching glyphs onto stone tablets to the use of pens and paper, it is clear that technology has played a significant role in shaping the way we express ourselves. Almost everyone has embraced new forms of communication, such as texting and the use of emojis, to convey their thoughts and emotions.

However, despite the prevalence of digital communication, there remains a strong case for the continued relevance of traditional writing skills. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of writing in the 21st century and its role in helping individuals navigate the complex landscape of the digital world.

Writing is a fundamental skill that enables each of us to communicate effectively and express ourselves clearly. And though it’s a skill not everyone is as talented or gifted when it comes to writing. As a result, at DPS Warangal, we stress the importance of penmanship as one of the means to encourage thought leadership, and original thinking. It is necessary for success in many areas of life, including education, employment, and personal relationships. By developing strong writing skills, you can improve your ability to convey complex ideas and arguments, engage in critical thinking, and participate in meaningful interactions with anyone, regardless of age.

The Importance of Writing Skills in the Digital Age

In the 21st century, the widespread availability of digital technology has enabled each of us to democratically express ourselves in new and innovative ways. The rise of social media and other online platforms has given voice to a generation of digital natives, who are adept at using hashtags, abbreviations, and emojis to convey their thoughts and emotions.

Despite this paradigm shift in communication, and almost omnipresent proliferation of digital communication, traditional writing skills remain an essential tool for effective self-expression. Writing allows individuals to articulate complex ideas and arguments, engage in critical thinking, and participate in meaningful discourse. While emojis and GIFs may be useful for conveying simple emotions or ideas, they are not capable of capturing the depth and nuance of well-crafted prose. This is easily illustrated by how quickly emojis change meaning. If you speak to counsellors, you will hear of students labouring to try and decipher the meaning of emojis and what they imply as a way of understanding their peers. Imagine the strain of trying to make sense of hieroglyphs (almost), when words can do the job. This is where the erasure from developing this skill has cost us severely in the way people are able to effectively communicate. That being said, we all know the impact of a well-worded note, or card as a gesture versus a simple text message that says the same thing. It’s almost alien as an idea, and yet you will find that it’s possibly something most people treasure carefully for decades. 

What the pen teaches us about structured arguments

Many business leaders, and well-known personalities were known for their gift of writing, and being able to craft a mean sentence. Think of Winston Churchill, Lal Bahadur Shastri, M.K. Gandhi, or Sarojini Naidu –each of them wielded the pen to communicate their ideas and went on to shape the world as we know it today. 

The ability to craft a well-organised argument is a valuable skill in the digital age. While it may be tempting to resort to confrontational tactics, presenting a reasoned and articulate set of points using written language can be a more effective way to communicate one’s point of view. While a 140 character, or 280 character tweet might seem pithy, being equally asked to elaborate on it in a cogent, and reasoned manner shouldn’t lead to confusion. Crafting a well-reasoned response is often considered a skill –and that comes from slow penmanship where you allow thoughts to be relayed in a specific manner. 

As the wise philosopher Jaden Smith once tweeted, “How can mirrors be real if our eyes aren’t real?” Reflecting on this profound thought, memory and handwriting are connected. Research indicates that writing by hand boosts both retention and comprehension. Writing skills are essential for success in many areas of life, including education, employment, and personal relationships. Research has shown that writing by hand can improve memory retention and comprehension, making it a valuable tool for learning and personal development.

Writing also provides individuals with the ability to express themselves clearly and persuasively –imagine having to negotiate your salary, or why should you be given that extra point? All of these abilities stem from being able to develop a point of view that’s thought through and can consider the opposition’s points of view. It’s almost similar to debating except being able to structure your ideas on a piece of paper instead of verbally.  A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a well-written text? Priceless.

The CBSE Angle: Exam Writing Skills for Scoring High

The ability to write effectively remains a crucial skill for success in CBSE exams. While it may be tempting to focus solely on providing the “right” answers, examiners are also looking for well-articulated and logically constructed responses. A well-written answer sheet can stand out from the crowd and make a positive impression on the examiner. It is important for a student to present their ideas in a clear and coherent manner. This can be achieved through the use of clear handwriting, logical paragraphing, and judicious use of bullet points. By presenting your ideas in a structured and organised fashion, you can not only improve their chances of scoring high marks on their exams but also have a clear writing style which distinguishes you from others. Take for example, the simple tasks of answering a question paper that speaks about essays, or writing an analysis of literature –your ability to write, and in a way that uses your language, sentence structure, and syntax is what creates a communication signature. Not only does this help against plagiarism, but also allows you to present your original thought and ideas. This helps showcase your original ideas, intellectual prowess, and unique take on situations or scenarios.

Digital Tools for Writing: A Friend or a Foe?

Technology has provided us with a wide range of tools to assist with writing. From autocorrect and spell check to digital documents and text editors, these tools can be both a blessing and a curse. They often come at the cost of relying on them, and not using our own faculties to correct ourselves. This can mean that we stop learning to get things right on our own, and choose convenience. While inherently there may be many who’d argue that using technology to simplify iterative work is a good thing – but also think of the downside. Autocorrect, for example, is notorious for changing perfectly good words into something completely different. While digital documents are convenient, they can also be easily lost or corrupted. The question is of balance and being able to operate even without technology to get work done. Instead of looking at digital tools in absolute terms we need to think of them as useful resources to augment our own abilities, or improve our skill sets. 

While it’s easy to get lost and focus solely on digital tools, writing comes with a variety of other softer benefits such as slowing down, focus, mental clarity and the ability to quiet the mind –which is often something many of us struggle with. In our fast paced lives, putting pen to paper is a way of connecting a very different set of neural pathways that reward calm, and help us feel better. It’s one of the reasons journaling [using pen and paper] has become popular among people of all ages. Be it for self-expression, every day communication or even memory retention –writing offers a suite of advantages that should be used with all the other tools that the digital age has to offer for communicating today. For teens it remains a valuable tool for development and should be thought of as a key skill to be learnt, regardless of learning preferences.