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The End of Handwriting, Finally!

Handwriting is history

Anne Trubek didn't make any friends when she suggested that schools stop teaching handwriting in a column for Good. The online essay left a trail of 1,400 comments in its wake, many of them angry. Now she's at it again, with an essay called Handwriting is History, published in the latest issue of Miller-McCune.

"For many," she writes, "the prospect of handwriting dying out would signal the end of individualism and the entree to some robotic techno-future... But when we worry about losing our individuality, we are likely misremembering our schooling, which included rote, rigid lessons in handwriting. We have long been taught the 'right' way to form letters."

Good lord, if anything was robotic, it was learning proper handwriting. What anybody with good handwriting may be oblivious to is the shame of bad handwriting. Ridding classrooms of that shame makes room for other things, like ideas. "Typing in school has a democratizing effect," Trubek writes, "as did the typewriter. It levels the look of prose to allow expression of ideas, not the rendering of letters, to take center stage."

Want more of this? You'll find nearly 4,000 words of it at Miller-McCune. Enjoy!

Source: Miller-McCune 

Image by lucianvenutian, licensed under Creative Commons. 

yvonne king
6/30/2013 1:22:47 AM

Was this a smart thing to do? This is why "Home" schooling is becoming important!!!!


sidanlei pang_1
12/22/2009 11:43:15 AM

Without handwriting, teachers, educational psychologists and occupational therapists will find it even harder to identify specific barriers to learning and to intervene in order to help the individual to develop alternate ways of coping with their learning barrier. I agree with the one student who stated that writing help her to securely store information in her longterm memory for later retrieval.


sidanlei pang_2
12/22/2009 11:42:43 AM

Without handwriting, teachers, educational psychologists and occupational therapists will find it even harder to identify specific barriers to learning and to intervene in order to help the individual to develop alternate ways of coping with their learning barrier. I agree with the one student who stated that writing help her to securely store information in her longterm memory for later retrieval.


joyce_2
12/21/2009 12:00:01 PM

What Anne might be missing is that some people learn better by writing. For myself, writing something out helps to secure it in my memory. One semester when I had done poorly in chemistry I spent the winter break rewriting all my notes. the spring semester I got an A in the course. Handwriting is sustainable - requiring only a substrate such as paper or chalkboard and a substance that will mark on it. It does not require electricity and thus is more portable and ecological. I'm not sure that thousands of years from now someone will find a jump drive in a clay pot and be able to salvage the information as we did with papyrus scrolls. Wouldn't it be simpler and more logical to just encourage better teaching methods? After all it is beneficial to learn the discipline of a process that we do not always excell at.


davidmh
12/21/2009 11:22:41 AM

Choice is being eliminated from our lives--independent bookstores, non-chain restaurants,and now handwriting. Handwriting is no longer taught in schools, according to my college writing students. Younger students can no longer tell time on a non-digital clock. (Is it still a clock if there are no hands?) Most stationery stores no longer carry ink for my beloved fountain pens. (Ballpoint pens destroyed handwriting by requiring a tight grasp rather than the flowing sweep of a fountain pen.) Even the Flair has dropped from dozens of colors to red, black, and blue--except in teeny-bopper pastels that are hard to read. I only have seven brown flairs left!!! My handwriting is my trademark. My signature is my identity. As a writer my first drafts are always hand-written; my second drafts are typed so I can edit without prejudice in favor of myself. Maybe this explains my students writing.


gerald berke
12/21/2009 11:13:18 AM

Somebody sometime has got to be able to make neat and well ordered marks on the paper. It is certainly a good discipline. So what we'll have is what we have in language and books and math and such: we'll have the people who read and write and speak well, and we'll have the ones that don't. The ones that don't spell well. My writing sucks. And I work to improve it. And the practice itself, just that is a good practice. And maybe handwriting isn't the right place to stop: teach basic calligraphy. So that what we write might look beautiful.


rhea_10
12/21/2009 10:48:17 AM

Personally, I enjoy the flow of letters that's so unlike printing and typing. I enjoy being able to take stationary to the park and writing with that flow, but it does seem pretty pointless now, and I feel like I've lost an entire realm of kinesthetic pleasure associated with writing. Yes, perhaps it is a waste, much like poetry (totally useless writing, right?). Or perhaps music is a better example - also useless, yet one must practice endlessly to derive pleasure from it in the end. No, I don't think it should be used to torture children, and I'm sorry those kinds of teachers were ever let loose upon kids (Anne Trubek?). I grew up in a time and place where handwriting was taught before printing, and every letter had a story, and now I wonder - when kids learn printing, they're not told to shape the letters in any particular way??? I cannot believe that learning handwriting in school is so socially divisive, that the removal of just that would have a noticeable democratizing effect. I do see handwriting dying out on it's own, and I am sad, but okay with it. The same is happening with spelling and grammar, and I find that a bit more troubling. Perhaps to be truly democratizing the English language, we also need to remove pesky word groups like "there", "their", and "they're", that seem to confuse the machines that are supposed to do our thinking. Rhea