Penmanship

PENMANSHIP….The headline on this Newsweek article talks about “good penmanship,” but the text tells a subtly different story:

Beauty seems to be less important than fluidity and speed. [Vanderbilt University professor Steve] Graham’s work, and others’, has shown that from kindergarten through fourth grade, kids think and write at the same time. (Only later is mental composition divorced from the physical process of handwriting.)….”Measures of speed among elementary-school students are good predictors of the quality and quantity of their writing in middle school,” says Stephen Peverly, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “I don’t care about legibility.”

Hah! Take that, Mom. I may have been the despair of my elementary school teachers in the penmanship department, but now Science™ tells us that “Beauty seems to be less important than fluidity and speed,” just like I always thought.

Though, in fairness, I have to admit that not only is my handwriting not very legible, it’s not really very fluid or speedy either, so it’s not like I come out of this smelling like a rose. A good part of the reason, I suppose, is the peculiar way I hold a pen, which my mother and my teachers spent years kvetching about to no avail. And I have to admit, looking at it in a photo, it looks hellishly awkward, doesn’t it? But I’ve tried the “correct” way of holding a pen, and I’ve just never been able to get used to it.

And now it’s too late. The only think I care about is the quality of my keyboard, not the quality of my handwriting. And soon we’ll all have bionic arms and direct neural connections to digital paper anyway, right? To go along with our flying cars. Or so I’ve been told.

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