Friday, August 26, 2016

Handwriting, pro and con

Jessica Kerwin Jenkins, in a contrarian review of Anne Trubek’s forthcoming book The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting :

Though one technology often supplants another, that doesn’t necessitate concession. Considering its rich significance, instead of hustling handwriting off to the graveyard, perhaps what’s called for is resurrection.
Reading Trubek’s recent New York Times piece “Handwriting Just Doesn’t Matter” made me dubious about investing time in the book. Two sentences from the Times piece:
People talk about the decline of handwriting as if it’s proof of the decline of civilization. But if the goal of public education is to prepare students to become successful, employable adults, typing is inarguably more useful than handwriting.
Notice how the first sentence stacks the deck by characterizing those who value the practice of writing by hand as fuddy-duddy doomsayers. As for the second sentence: is the goal of public education to produce “successful, employable adults”? And what does “successful” mean? Here, from John Churchill of Phi Beta Kappa, is another perspective on the purpose of education.

And what about all those people writing in pocket notebooks and journals?

Related reading
All OCA handwriting posts (Pinboard)
On “On the New Literacy”

comments: 3

Geo-B said...

I moved from one state (Maryland) to another (Ohio) at the end of 8th grade in 1963, and when my father signed me up for the new school, he figured I should be doing something industrious, so he signed me up for typing in summer school (this is so typical of my father, who passed away in January at 93). It held me in good stead, and when I entered college it was in journalism school where we had to type/compose our papers in class on old clunky manual typewriters. I spent almost all of my college experience writing/composing my papers on my own manual typewriter, often without sufficient drafts.
By the time I wrote my dissertation, I would write out a draft of a chapter in long-hand, then type it--during which I would think of changes--then immediately retype it.
When I learned cursive, I began using a cartridge Sheaffer fountain pen, and continue using a fountain pen. If I need to use a ball point pen to fill out something with copies, I have to borrow one.
This summer I took a course in teaching on-line courses, and the instructor told me I should just add my remarks at the end of an electronically-submitted paper i was electronically grading. In fact, as I read a paper, I make marks, I underline salient points the writer has made, I circle things I question. An A paper is as marked up as an F paper. It's how I read, leaving my handwriting on the paper. It's part of my thought-process. I thought we should be discouraged from just leaving a few comments and a grade at the end of the paper.
In my brain, reading and writing are linked with handwriting.

The Subliminal Mr Dunn said...

Your point is very well made, and taken, Michael.

Michael Leddy said...

George, that’s more or less the way I did my dissertation, and the way I still write anything of any length (but without retyping whole documents, of course).

Thanks for the compliment, Barnaby. My point is a Pelikan F (fine).