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The importance of Handwriting
Why do they still grade it in school?

 3:39 am on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Okay, so my 9 year old son got a D for the year in hand writing. The report card came home a few weeks ago and while Ds are not allowed in my home, we let it go. The reason being that it boogles my mind why in this day and age, they are still grading children on handwriting?

My son's handwriting is awful, but then so is mine, my husband's, my father's and nearly everyone I know. Plus, nearly no one I know actual does any handwriting. Mostly they do hand printing, if any at all. The only things I print/write are notes to myself and Christmas cards. Everything else is typed.

So why is it, in schools where they are making a huge push towards computers and testing by computer, is handwriting still on the report cards? I can understand teaching it, but putting is on the same level as Math, Reading and Science seems just a bit archaic in this day and age.



 5:02 am on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, maybe I might have an insight to it just a bit. I have decided to go back to the corporate world, and while filling out the application that was sent to me in pdf form, (thank god, or whoever), I was able to reprint the pages that I screwed up on.

If I was forced to fill everything out at the office, I wouldn't have been hired, as I seriously reprinted at least 10 times due to screw-ups.

Even though the position is for programming, where I won't really be writing except for a whiteboard, I do believe that handwriting is still a useful tool. (Even though my writing is worse then chicken scratch. It took me about an hour to do a 4 page application.)

So now everybody knows my weakness!


 5:29 am on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

It doesn't quite answer your question, hannamyluv, but does provide a partial insight into some of the motivation as to why handwriting can be/is considered important in some quarters.

The "Tony Blair - Bill Gates debacle" as described in the article provides much humour...

Writing wrongs [news.bbc.co.uk]



 7:27 am on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Handwriting is still important. You still have to use pen and paper in most exams. My handwriting used to be quite good, but it is suffering badly now, as I use a PC for just about everything.


 1:07 pm on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I never learned handwriting very well, and I really wish I had. There are just enough times that it's necessary that I simply would like to know how to write well.

Furthermore, I think the days when every school desk has a built-in laptop for the kids to work on are still a long way off. Therefore, since they have to write by hand anyway, why not teach them how to do it well? Nothing should be done shoddily, regardless of whether its necessary or not. Teaching to write neatly is simply a good character lesson if nothing else.

And, call me old-fashioned if you want to, but there's still nothing like a handwritten note or letter to show you really care about someone. The computer can never replace that. Cards, personal letters, special notes to a spouse, etc., all are better off for being handwritten, and it would entirely ruin the effect if the recipient had to decipher hen scratches (like mine) just to read the message. So handwriting will always be a valuable skill to know for this reason alone.

Now, I was never actually graded on handwriting, but if I had been, I'd probably have gotten D's and F's in it myself. But still being young enough to remember my own childhood, yet old enough to think like an adult, I'd like to encourage your son to work harder on handwriting next year. When he grows up, he'll be very glad he put in the extra effort when he was young and still had the ability to correct bad writing styles and habits and develop good ones. Tell him to take it from one who knows - bad handwriting is one of my main regrets from my school days.


I can understand teaching it, but putting is on the same level as Math, Reading and Science seems just a bit archaic in this day and age.

Not to be argumentative, but why should handwriting be any more archaic than math, when computers can make even math skills unnecessary?



 2:22 pm on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

when computers can make even math skills unnecessary

Because numbers are still inputted into computers by humans and therefore still fallible. And because someone still has to program computers to do math. ;)


 2:23 pm on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm glad they still push handwriting. My son just finished grade 2 and his printing is improving well!

I don't have a printer and won't get one until I know it's durable. I'm sick of ink jet excuses in a box. Relying on keyboards and computers.....not a wise path to take. Just like memorizing the multiplication table and being able to math in your head, it's often very necessary

My own hand writing isn't very legible so often I just print.

Becoming so reliant on technology to do our math and our writing for us....it's a road to intellectual bankruptcy.


 3:12 pm on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

1st, this is probably a question for your school board rather than a bunch of web propeller heads.

2nd, but since you asked here, I would say that until society in general, and employers in particular, no longer expect people to write with their hands, that handwriting is a skill that they should teach. And, if they teach it, most taxpayers and most parents will expect them to test it and to grade it.


 6:26 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Handwriting still says a lot about a person, and an uneven or strained looking hand is still seen, rightly or wrongly, as an indication of a less educated person.

And being legible is even more important. Unless you can write clearly, your post will never be delivered and your bank account applications will be 'referred'.

At a certain level it is essential that key skills are graded. Handwriting isn't graded at a university level, it's not going to show on your A level certificates. They test it in the lower years just to put emphasis on it when they can.

The real question you should ask is whether typing speed, method and accuracy were tested, and if not, why not...


 6:38 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>Handwriting still says a lot about a person, and an uneven or strained looking hand is still seen, rightly or wrongly, as an indication of a less educated person.

You ever noticed the signature at the bottom of a prescription? :)


 6:47 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

You ever noticed the signature at the bottom of a prescription? :)

A typical doctor's handwriting is well formed and controlled. It may not be neatly written, and is most probably rushed.

There's a difference between that and poor handwriting itself.

I have always had complaints about my handwriting. Still get them as it happens. "Two legged spider which has crawled through an ink well" is a common description. In my case it's not that I can't write neatly, it's that I don't take the time to, and the traditional almost copperplate style I was taught doesn't lend itself to haste :)

Sweet Cognac

 7:08 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am continually onto my 17 yr old to at least, practice his "signature." His signature is like a 6 yr old wrote it. I have excellent handwriting, (the result of going to a private school) and I prefer hand writing to typing. I'm glad they push hand writing in school. There's nothing worse than getting a letter you can't read.

In college they use a lot of handwriting, don't they? Or not anymore?


 7:36 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Handwriting is actually important in developing certain psychomotor skills in children. You don't spring into existence with every connection in your brain already made. The connections have to be made, often as a result of practice.

Handwriting, of course, involves the control of the hand to make quite detailed marks on paper. All other things being equal, the better the handwriting, the better the hand-brain-eye coordination.

If the psychomotor skills involved in handwriting are not fully developed, so that writing is not comfortable, this can impact on a child's intellectual development.

Written language demands much more systematic thinking than spoken language, and writing up thoughts and ideas helps systematize them. Hence the emphasis put in later years in written work in school.

But it can be (although it is by no means certainly) the case that those with bad handwriting find it more difficult to put their thoughts on paper. This means they are less able to systematize their thinking and may not, therefore, fully achieve their potential.

Of course, all other things are never equal. There are many reasons why a child may have bad handwriting, one of which is that his/her entire family has bad handwriting. And girls tend to have better handwriting than boys.

You'll also note that I've written "can be" and "may not". I don't want to panic you. Handwriting skills are just one of a large battery of indicators that teachers use. Bad handwriting in itself, as you know from your own experience, means nothing. Some people with bad handwriting can write perfectly fluently. It's just that no one else can read what they write!

If there was a problem other than just bad handwriting, your son's school would have contacted you about it. As it is, they've just given you his grade for your information, to do with as you will.

Nonetheless, it's probably worth encouraging your son to try to write better than his mother. At worst, it won't do any harm.



 3:52 pm on Jul 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

A typical doctor's handwriting is well formed and controlled. It may not be neatly written, and is most probably rushed.

There's a difference between that and poor handwriting itself.

Sorta like the difference between chaos and controlled chaos - it could be difficult to distinguish the two.


 6:29 pm on Jul 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am another with very poor handwriting - my hand actually cramps after a couple of minutes. I can, however, without difficulty, print like a draftsman faster than most people write.

On the bright side your son already has one of the most important qualifications to be a physician! I have noticed that the more a physician/specialist charges the worse the scribble scrawl. I am sure that with encouragement an 'F' is within reach.

I have also noticed that the only people who can read a physician's scrawl are pharmacists which is fortunate for patients. Perhaps an evolutionary symbiotic relationship?

Legibility has surprisingly little to do with some professions ... lawyers come to mind ...


 5:08 am on Jul 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

In my senior year of high school, my Spanish teacher said to me "Matthew, you espeak espanish beautifully. But your hand writing es terribley."


 6:07 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

i have good handwriting and always have. i almost never write anything anymore, but when i do, i like that it looks nice.

as for having it graded.. writing is important. what's going to happen in 100, 200, 300+ yrs when no one knows how to write anymore and there's some huge event and computers are useless? (very hypothetical i know...)


 12:34 am on Jul 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Couple o things..

One ..whose handwriting are we talking about ..in the west ...the writing goes left to right ..developed for right handed folks ..I'm near perfectly ambidextruos( could well be misspelled that ..do I give a **? ... nope :)) ( some of youse would give your right arms to be this way ) ..;) my kid is left about 60 % handed biased ...here in France the "ideal" handwriting is based on a sort of English "accountancy style" from the late 17 th century ..all curliques and stylistic squiggles..all based on how right handers would form letters ..so he has a problem ..unless he writes in block printed ...like in comic book speech bubbles .. ( he writes his own comic books ..English or French or German ..pretty good ones too.. ) ...
However he is told by his teachers etc that he should write "joined up" like they do ...then they can mark him down ...( marking the handwriting of a lefthanded kid in a western society is like marking a fish on how well it can fly or ride bicycle )..

My main business is artwork ..sculpture or painting etc ..If I( or any other .."famous" or not ..) get it right ...you can all tell what I meant to sculpt or draw or paint etc ..same as picasso or da vinci or chagall or whomsoever ..BUT ...when it needs a critic from the new york times or some fancy gallery owner to explain to you why you cant get it ( they are trying to say you are too dumb ..they can make you "intelligent " for a few thousand of whatever is your local currency )..thats when it's actually cr*p ( however it may be a good investment ..cr*p nonetheless tho ..lets be honest here ;)...

Handwriting is a question of taste or dogma or sheer control freakyness stupidity ( graphology is however a real science and most of those who want "clean and clear" wouldn't like what graphologists would make of their best prize winning efforts ....been there done that ..good money ......interesting ;)....

Most of the really interesting things that have been written ..be it in physics , philosophy or literature have been witten by folks whose handwriting looked like drunk insects on crutches ( checkout ..Einstein , Baudelaire , Shakespeare etc etc etc etc ) ...

Mark twain wern't the most grammatical of scribblers ..neither ..

The important thing is the content ..style is secondary ..beware of Maya ...( 'n' cascading style sheets n such ) ...

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