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What Happened To Handwriting?

antique elderly handwriting cursive

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50 replies to this topic

#41 RMN

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 10:14

Doctors in the Netherlands are no longer allowed to write out drug prescriptions, they must now do so electronically (with some exceptions). One of the reasons given: to avoid errors due to bad handwriting.

The other is patients forging the prescriptions to obtain more of certain medicine..... and even adding medicine.

 

 

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#42 proton007

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 15:04

I'll just offer my perspective based on my experiences in the area of technology. I never really got to see the 'analog' age, things went digital by the time I was in secondary school.

 

There was a time when in order to write an error free computer program, you had to write it down first, check and recheck it, and then get it puched on a card. Any mistake, and you'd end up repeating the process again, meaning a delay of a few days.

 

Then came the computer screen and terminals. You wrote the code on the screen, but designed and checked it by hand, because it would take time to run on the mainframe. Again, make a mistake, spend a few hours trying to get the program running again.

 

Finally, we had instant writing and compiling, but graphics weren't as advanced yet, so most applications looked pretty plain and simple. Also, there was limited speed and memory, so you only kept 'useful' programs in memory.

 

In the past few years, there's been an influx of 'aid' and 'productivity' software. Design on the PC, write on the PC, do everything via computers. Make as many mistakes as you want, there's always an 'Undo' option somewhere, and doing and redoing only takes a few seconds, minutes at max.

 

My point being, most of the things we do in life have become instant, pre-processed, pre-packaged and predefined. Everything has templates, everything 'is supposed to just work'.  I see the same clip-art, graphics and fonts everywhere, because commercialization usually means standardization.

 

I've seen myself and many others use short bursts of thinking and acting, and then rethinking and reacting, in comparison to sitting down, taking the time to think 'through'. This message I type allows me to edit it once posted, so I don't really focus as much on spelling and grammar as I would if writing a handwritten note.

 

What does this mean for the young? They've grown up seeing word processing software doing all the content organization and graphics to present information. Options are available, just need to choose. So when and why should we stop using the keyboard/mouse and pick up a pen? Why would anyone try to come up with something that's entirely a creation from their own mind? Eventually it all just gets fed into the standardization machine!


Edited by proton007, 05 March 2014 - 15:14.

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#43 Apprenti

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 15:37

I'm a teen, and I take great care over my handwriting.



#44 cambookpro

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 18:21

I don't think it's purely a generational thing, not in our family anyway!

 

My great-grandmother has fairly good handwriting, but nothing to write home about (pun intended?!). However she is almost 95, so it's pretty good for her age.

 

However, my grandparents and parent all have awful writing! Most of it I can't even differentiate separate words...


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#45 Mickey

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 18:47

I wonder what the correlation is between union and nonunion instruction, i.e., do parochial and private school students have superior or inferior handwriting? How about home-schoolers? For another wrinkle, how about 'charter school' students vs those in state managed schools.


Edited by Mickey, 05 March 2014 - 18:47.

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#46 BlotBot

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 19:33

First, I wonder if only antique dealers with nice handwriting write take you notes....

 

I dont think handwriting is generational.  My mother, who is in her 80s, has always had terrible handwriting.  My father had very neat, precise handwriting.  I think it is more about personality-- patience and attention to detail.

 

I find handwriting tends to go down hill the faster I write.  Taking notes at the speed of the lecturer really causes deterioration. 


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#47 pajaro

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 20:04

I had nuns teach me to write, and I was not good at it.  Over the years I worked on it, and my writing improved.


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#48 knarflj

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 20:30

I wonder what the correlation is between union and nonunion instruction, i.e., do parochial and private school students have superior or inferior handwriting? How about home-schoolers? For another wrinkle, how about 'charter school' students vs those in state managed schools.

I can't answer all of those questions, but I know that home-schoolers vary widely. Most of the ones I know do teach handwriting, including some form of cursive. Not all of us spend enough time on it, alas. That's one of the things I'd do differently if I were doing it over: none of my children's penmanship is as good as mine. At least they all write legibly when they want to.

 

I've seen a trend lately in a few private schools away from the computer and word-processor, requiring that all notes and assignments be handwritten. I don't know whether that will spread or die. And of course on the other end of the spectrum are the schools that have eliminated all books in favour of an iPad . . .


Edited by knarflj, 05 March 2014 - 21:50.

"To read without also writing is to sleep." - St. Jerome

#49 kestrel

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 20:55

There have always been people with good handwriting and people with bad.  My father-in-law had abominable handwriting with misshaped letters, uneven letter height, wandering line spacing.  It was decipherable.  Barely.  The most intelligent man I have ever worked for had handwriting so bad that only three people in the office could decipher it.  Both men were born long before the Second World War and were probably given instruction in penmanship.

I do think the overall handwriting quality has declined for a lot of the reasons mentioned above.  I teach high school so it is a little late to change things by the time they get to me although that doesn't prevent me from trying.  I know that here in Florida penmanship has disappeared from many public elementary schools because it isn't assessed on any state tests and those tests are used to evaluate schools, administrators, and teachers as well as students.  Every available minute is devoted to maximizing those test scores.  Some teachers still teach these basic skills but not enough.  I know this is going on in some other states because the handwriting on the Advanced Placement essays I grade every June has been declining as well. 

The result?  I have 66 freshman biology students.  Two have handwriting that is so bad I regularly kick back assignments because I can't read them.  It costs them points on tests.  Both have been told since second grade that their handwriting was illegible.  Both will have a very difficult time earning points on AP or SAT exams that require handwritten essays.  Neither can read their own handwritten notes.  Another fifteen to twenty have legible (barely) handwriting that requires considerable effort on my part to read.  One-quarter of my ninth graders do not read cursive handwriting. 

Equally disturbing is the fact that students aren't taught how to hold a writing instrument and some of the grips I see cause discomfort when used for extended writing.  Last year I had a couple of students who were on what are called Individual Education Plans, legally binding documents that specifically limited the amount of writing they could do due to hand pain.  I taught them both the basic tripod grip and gave them a Pilot Varsity and much of the pain went away as their handwriting improved.

This will only change when the people in charge of the school systems want it to change or when parents decide to pick up the slack and teach these skills to their own children. 

I can't answer Mickey's questions because I don't have the data.  In general, parochial schools seem to push penmanship skills more than public schools.  The few home-schooled children I have taught ranged across the spectrum, probably based on parental writing or teaching ability.  Charter school students in Florida still have to pass the FCAT state exam so I wouldn't expect to see much difference there.  Union membership is optional and you get a mix of members and nonmembers in all schools so I doubt you could differentiate on that basis.

My eyes are more relaxed, now.  I will go back to grading my scrawled exams.


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#50 Mickey

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 21:22


I can't answer Mickey's questions because I don't have the data.  In general, parochial schools seem to push penmanship skills more than public schools.  The few home-schooled children I have taught ranged across the spectrum, probably based on parental writing or teaching ability.  Charter school students in Florida still have to pass the FCAT state exam so I wouldn't expect to see much difference there.  Union membership is optional and you get a mix of members and nonmembers in all schools so I doubt you could differentiate on that basis.

My eyes are more relaxed, now.  I will go back to grading my scrawled exams.

 

Unless you presume the entire curriculum of both charter and non-charter schools and all classroom time was devoted solely to preparing for the FCAT, the fact of the test is irrelevant to the question. Union membership is hardly optional in many public school systems, regardless of the statutes. As for homeschoolers, those transferring to public schools likely represent a population biased to some degree toward children whose parents were unable to effect a quality education.

 

Without a dedicated study, it would be difficult if not impossible to sieve a conclusion from existing studies and statistics, ergo, my 'I wonder if...'


The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#51 trdsf

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 22:44

I get complimented on my handwriting or, oddly, get told I have "feminine" handwriting.  Personally, I think I do not have compliment-worthy handwriting, and I am just baffled by the idea that my handwriting is gendered somehow.

 

I do have different hands depending on my circumstances; a note for myself will be written with less care than a note for someone else, especially at work; likewise, a note scribbled in pencil or BP will be of a different character than one done with a FP.  Co-workers, therefore, are likely to see my handwriting at its clearest, and not see the electroencephalogram I jot for myself.


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