Archive for Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bad handwriter boldly takes delights of typing

September 3, 2009

I’ve been reading a growing number of items mourning the demise of handwriting. Although I realize that it can be a really useful skill, often a necessity and sometimes an art, I’m not one of those who is particularly grieving about the passing of scriptwriting as a universal skill. I just wish that it hadn’t been as important as it was during my many years in school and as a letter writer. Believe me, the arrival of word processing was a blessing to me. I’m not a really fast typist, but my output is much more legible than anything I write at length. I can make it pretty for only a few lines — then it’s all gone.

I certainly can’t blame my teachers. In the long-ago era when I was in elementary school, my teachers all did their best. I spent many hated hours trying to trace those letters and redraw them in a perfectly even beautiful script. But, even when the curves all went in the right direction, the beauty of the page was marred by dark smudges and tears where the eraser had been used once too often. I’m sure my teachers all shook their heads as they gazed upon my laborious efforts. Usually, a big fat D graced my writing sheet.

Thankfully, I had abilities in other directions. Even with my miserably uncontrolled handwriting, I made it out into the real world. There seems to be a genetic tie to bad handwriting in my family, which returns to haunt me. It couldn’t have come from my parents, who both wrote in a beautifully regular and even ornamental script. However, my son only used script as long as he had to do so; then, he returned to block print letters for his writing tasks, and chose the profession of physician, which seems to forgive bad handwriting for its practitioners. He uses a computer word processor to take notes while he interviews patients — something that my personal physician also does. My oldest grandson also struggles with writing script. He makes up for it by typing excessively fast on a computer. Perhaps, there was an uncle of mine or two with a bad handwriting gene. It has to be like reverse dyslexia.

In the end, the computer word processor has been my salvation. Of course, I typed my research papers in high school and college. I used an old typewriter that looked somewhat frog-like. If I’d had a computer then, I would have been able to present my writings in a much more acceptable fashion. It would have been like magic — my frog typewriter turned into a princess. I could have easily spotted errors in phrasing and rewritten them in a flash.

There are many who find the computer to be a wicked influence on civilization with its instant communication properties and its way of making a person with bad handwriting melt into the wall paper. More than one teacher has shaken their heads about the wretched state of the basic art of handwriting and predicted a doom-laden outcome of today’s youngsters who substitute keyboarding on phone and computers for elegantly scribed letters. However, there was once a time when all educated young men and women learned Latin and Greek. Now, one can scarcely locate a high school that offers those languages. Perhaps, elegant script is doomed to take its place with those elegant old languages.


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