Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Handwriting Is On The Wall

This post may seem a tad familiar to longtime readers but trust me when I say it's different, even if the story I tell is one I've told before.

I made good grades in elementary school. Save for 1 particu;ar class I made nearly all A's with an occasional B. And yet, only once did I make the A/B honor roll, because there was one subject that never, no matter how hard I tried, could I earn higher than a C.

 That subject ... handwriting.

My cursive was, and is to this day horrendous. I tried hard. my mom made me sit and write for hours but I simply could not turn those curves into anything resembling nice handwriting. Trust me when I say doctors are envious of my shaky penmanship. One a very nice teacher gave me a B in the last 6 weeks. She even said to me,  "Travis you're handwriting has not improved one bit, but I know you work hard at it and you are so smart you deserved to be on the honor roll at least once."

Thank you for that Mrs Davis!

Then there was my 3rd grade teacher. One Mrs. McCarty. She had no pity, love or undersatnding for my plight.

But one day I was being forced to wait no so patiently at the beauty shop where my mom worked. The magazine choices were dismal so I was only perusing pictures when I spotted an article. Long story short this article was about a study that concluded people with the worst handwriting often have high IQ. It stated that sometimes peoples brain works faster than their hand.

So I clipped the article and carried it off to school.

however i erred when I handed to Mrs. McCarty and said, "Look, this explains why my handwriting is not nearly as neat as yours."

Boy was she pissed. I got a D that six weeks. The only one I ever got in all my school years.

Flash forward a quarter of a century.

My oldest son writes just like I did. He struggles mightily to lay down legible sentences.

Recently, I heard many states are cutting cursive handwriting from the curriculum.

I spotted at least three facebook message crying foul over these plans, but I for one think the time has come to ax it.

Wasting precious class time to teach kids cursive in this technological age asinine. When was the last time you used cursive for anything other than your signature?

Some people will rally around tradition and bemona its departure as a shame. They will yell but cutting it from school will makes lost art. Yeah, so is churning your own butter, but I don't see you getting up at 4 AM to milk Betsy.

What say you?


Sandra Cormier said...

Oh, crap; Travis! You made me laugh out loud in the house & I'm all alone. The cat thinks I'm crazy.

My son's handwriting is abysmal. He's also left-handed. He's also too smart for his own good.

I've always wanted to learn how to churn butter...

Rick said...

I'm with you on this. Why, if our handwriting gets any worse, we'll be discovering how to turn water into gold. Wait, that's lead into gold.

Laurel said...

My only "c" in elementary school was also handwriting! I was devastated. I had never missed the honor roll.

My handwriting evolved into something respectable, largely because I have a slightly artsy streak (I can draw well), but never perfect.

And I absolutely agree. In an age where most people will handwrite only the occasional signature or thank-you note, what's the point? Typing was elective when I was in high school. It cost me big time...and I do mean college where my papers had to be typed. And that was so long ago as to qualify as the dark ages. Typing well and fast is critical now. Handwriting is not. Deal with it.

Your handwriting skills should be sufficient for you to pen a message in a bottle from a desert island or hostage crisis. An emergency outlet. Otherwise, the rising generation will never use them.

Cloudia said...

My handwriting is so bad that I ask registrars to sign my name-tag for me (claiming a tremor I don;t have :)

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral



Angie said...

I hated handwriting too, and quit using cursive as soon as I could. My stepdad wrote in all caps, just making the "real" capitals bigger, and I started doing that in high school. It works fine.

If someone wants to learn cursive, that's fine. Some people learn calligraphy too; I did that for a while in my twenties. But the idea that an otherwise very good student could miss being on the honor roll because of bad handwriting is ludicrous. :/


Iman said...

Mrs Davis at Oakdale? She was one of the best teachers evah.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I have beautiful handwriting. Oh oh, better never take an IQ test! Bless that teacher who put you on the honour roll as you deserved.

the walking man said...

Shit dude the only good grades I ever got were from my writing classes. In fact in grade school it was the only class the old nuns didn't hit me with that 12" wooden ruler.

But to be honest *shrug* most people just scribble some shit when they sign a check so what difference does it make we all mostly write with a keyboard and printer these days and the kids I tutor print OK for 6 year old's so let the dino die and we can all make our mark when we sign legal documents

Be Well


Old Kitty said...

I'll wave the flag for handwriting as an art form and I love my lettuce too.

Take care

G. B. Miller said...

It's now almost medically impossible for me to write anything in cursive beyond my signature.

When this particular condition finally came home to roost back in 2008, I had to teach myself how to sign my name and write clearly (printing) again.

So the only cursive I do is my signature. Nothing more and nothing less.

And when I was able to write, it was incredibly horrendous. How bad?

I had a credit card company interpete the handwritten number "25" as "75" and try as I might when I called to them that they made a mistake, they refused to admit that they made a mistake.

So even though my checking account was credited with a $25 check, the credit card company credited my account with a $75 payment.

Being Beth said...

OH man, I missed afternoon recess every single day from 3rd - 6th grade because of my terrible handwriting. I had to stay in and practice while everyone else got to go play. I also spent every summer being tutored in penmanship. I never made honor roll either, even though I made A's in everything but penmanship.

I say stop torturing children and get rid of cursive in schools or make it an elective art course -- calligraphy!

Travis Erwin said...

Sandra - Thanks for stopping by, but you can have my share of butter churning.

Rick- I really thought most people would disagree with me on this one.

Laurel - I can't draw stick figures either so art is not help me to handwriting.

Travis Erwin said...

Cloudia - So you are a closet bad handwriter?

Angie - I like your dad's theory.

Iman - That would be her. And wasn't she. I didn't know you went to Oakdale.

Travis Erwin said...

Debra - I'm sure you are the exception to the rule.

Walking Man- Even you blog comments are lyrical. i envy your poetic skills.

Kitty- say it ain't so.

Travis Erwin said...

G - I feel your pain.

Beth - apparently this is a common trait among writers. Our brains must work differently.

EYR said...

They'd be better off teaching the kids keyboarding! Learning how to 'type' will do them a lot more good than the Palmer method in this day and age.

Iman said...

Travis, yep 5th and 6th grade. I learned two things at Oakdale, I still do today. The first, how to type, was taught by Mrs. Davis. The second is how to juggle.

Oh, my handwriting and that of my kids is awful. That's why I learned to type.

Charles Gramlich said...

as long as they can print. When the grid goes down we'll still need to do that.

Eric said...

I completely agree with this. As a guy who literally cannot write by hand (because sometimes I can't even read my own handwriting), I am very much in favor with jumping forward into the technology age. I also console my sons (who write almost as bad as I) with the comfort in knowing that it's not just them. It's a family trait that they've inherited unfortunately, and I'd much rather they not get the jab to their self confidence just because their loops are not as curvy as they should be.

sybil law said...

I could go with or without cursive handwriting (even though I have excellent printing - and cursive). It IS pretty antiquated, but knowing it won't hurt. I'm pretty "meh" on the subject.

Melissa Amateis said...

Sorry - I'm all for teaching handwriting. My daughter has absolutely beautiful penmanship - but I think it is the artist in her.

As a writer who loves pen and paper, I think it would be such a shame if we abandoned it all in favor of technology.

Anonymous said...

You have a tendency to swap letters when you type. Might you have just a touch of dyslexia?

I've got a family member who is super-smart and reads voraciously, yet he can't spell well and has atrocious hand-writing.

Mild dyslexia was his (eventual) diagnosis. It wasn't very bad, so he never got help for it because none of his teachers clued in. They just thought he was stupid--but his job and paycheck as an adult definitely puts lie to that.

Travis Erwin said...

Liz - I say teach them to type whole words not just lol and c u ltr.

Iman - Yep, we typed in her class and listened to rock records.

Charles - When The Grid Goes Down. Sounds like a futuristic thriller only you could write.

Travis Erwin said...

Eric - Let's saves the curves for the women to have.

Sybil - If Dave Grohl were against it you would rally to the cause.

Melissa- You sound like a librarian.

Travis Erwin said...

Anon- At the very least I have typers dyslexia. Certain words I always transpose letters. But I've always been a very strong speller, even qualifying for the city spelling bee once.