Changes in Handwriting Education Leaves Teens with Poor Penmanship

...Teens who can't write legibly -- multimillionaire teen celebrities aside -- do suffer. Even though many children use computers to write papers at home, most writing done within the school walls is still done by hand. (The country's ongoing economic problems won't likely add many computers to our nation's public school classrooms in the next few years.)

"Without it [cursive handwriting] you lose the sense of having your thought process through your hand movements to create your language and thoughts to someone else," says Michael Sull, a master penman in Spencerian script; past president of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting; and author of four books on handwriting including, "American Cursive Handwriting," which was released last month. "There is a great loss in the progress that could be made with children fostering their motor skill development, literacy training and concepts of communication."

Sloppiness makes the reader think the writer's ideas aren't any good, studies show. "If you have sloppy handwriting, people make [negative] judgments about the quality of your ideas," says Steven Graham, professor of education at Vanderbilt University.

And poor handwriting slows down the writer. If you write slowly, your hand may not be able to keep up with your mind's attempt to have a thought, form it into a sentence and remember it long enough to write it down. "Until you can do this skill quickly and without thinking, it will interfere with your output," says Graham. "You better learn to write."

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