Is My Writing Neat?

My teacher for the second grade was Mrs. Ruth, a fairly young rookie. When she returned one of our writing assignments, I glanced at the paper of the girl next to me. In the margin of the paper, my classmate had printed, “Is my writing neat?” To which the teacher responded, “ Yes, very neat!”

The next day I plagiarized her idea and wrote the same message on my assignment. Seemed logical to me, for some reason. I eagerly anticipated the return of our assignment. As I received my paper, I read the message below my note: “No! It is not neat.” Oops, guess that wasn’t such a good idea.

Of course, she was telling the truth, however blunt. My handwriting has always been marginal, at best, and has pathetically deteriorated. I usually print, using cursive writing only for signing legal documents and checks. I made it thorough college printing my notes. Today, I would use a keyboard.Ron signature

Ironically, I took a class in calligraphy and became fairly adept at it. I would practice taking committee meeting notes in various ornate fonts. Others saw me doing so and would respond, “We have these certificates … .“ I was paid to inscribe names on hundreds of certificates at BGSU over a four or five year period. Kind of ruined that hobby. It became piecework, rather than recreational.

An Aside

Many of my peers are alarmed that schools are eliminating cursive writing from the curriculum. While I admire the beautiful handwriting of some of my contemporaries, I think the resistance is largely emotional and nostalgic.

We have an “add-on curriculum.” Our grandchildren cover a broad range of topics we didn’t encounter. Where did your last history class end? World War II, maybe Korea? Our schools are increasingly mandated to add skills and content. Education should focus on preparing students to live in the future world. Effective keyboarding skills are more likely to prepare students for success in the future.

Keep in mind that research shows teachers subconsciously give students with beautiful handwriting higher scores on identical papers than less neatly written ones. It also unfairly penalizes students with poor motor skills.