The Curse of Handwriting

March 14th, 2006 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

Our nascent educational career nearly ground to a halt when we first encountered “handwriting”. Prior to this, we’d kept the mother on staff as a sort of stenographer (“Please excuse Booksquare early today as she has to explain to the dentist why she refuses to floss”). As it turns out, making all those letters and dots and whatnot is hard word and our early teachers did not appreciate that we were making art — and sometimes that means illegible.

Later, we encountered “typing”. There used to be this machine called a typewriter. It came in manual and electric. You put a sheet of paper (or roll, if you’re Jack Kerouac) into the machine, pressed keys, and letters appeared on the paper. When you’d filled the paper, you put in another sheet. Think of it as a primitive experiment in word processing. As we quickly learned, typing was also hard work. Again, our educational career was nearly derailed by the fact that art and putting letters in the right order don’t mix.

So, yeah, it’s with great frustration that we report a movement to do away with handwriting as we know it. We suffered. A lot. The new method is called italic, and it’s, well, sort of a hybrid between printing and cursive. Seriously, was there ever a better torture device than cursive?

“Most of us started off with a very legible but very laborious type of model. And just when we got the hang of it, all of a sudden it’s different,” Gladstone says. “Two years of printing, one or two years of cursive and then they put you on the keyboard so you get to forget most of what you’ve learned anyway. Why not have one system to teach handwriting well, rather than teach two more complicated things poorly?”

Ah, now we need to invent a time machine. There is still hope of impressing Mrs. Jepson.

File Under: Square Pegs

2 responses so far ↓

  • Brenda Coulter // Mar 14, 2006 at 10:04 am

    It never fails to amuse me, the way the educational establishment trots out these “revolutionary” theories, allows them to quietly expire, and then reintroduces them years later as brand-new ideas. Case in point: I was first made aware of the italics “movement” way back in 1989, when my elder son was in the first grade. His teachers were excited about the new handwriting instruction method, but two years later my son changed schools and had to learn cursive writing. And I haven’t heard another word about the italics method until just now.

  • Booksquare // Mar 14, 2006 at 5:59 pm

    Just wait, next week, there’s a huge ole announcement about New Math.

    I paid extra attention to my longhand today. I seem to do the italics thing naturally. Still illegible, but you can’t have it all.