Friday, February 9, 2007

Shaughnessy and handwriting

In class, we spoke about the reasons that Shaughnessy might have chosen to include handwriting in her chapter with punctuation. I think that handwriting is very much a part of a person’s overall experience. Shaughnessy recognizes that a person’s handwriting, whether “good” or “bad,” can give various insights into a person’s past or even present situation.

Just as handwriting can be subjectively good and bad, so can writing in general. There are certain things one looks for when assessing the quality of written paper including; subject matter, syntax, organization and other areas of written language. Likewise, one looks for a range of qualities when assessing the quality of handwriting including; correct formation of letters both cursive and printed, overall legibility and pen (or pencil) strokes.

As many people suggest, a person’s handwriting can add insight to the person as a whole. This is why I think it is important to assess the students' writing ability in handwritten form first. In looking at the form, if it is all block letters or very disjointed, the writer may be suggesting more than just the thoughts on the page.

Also the “correctness” of letter formation might have a direct correlation between the written letters and the ability to “form” an essay in the proper manner. This may or may not be true in all cases, but it certainly might give us insight when viewed as a correlation factor.

However, not all basic writers will have bad handwriting and not all 110 writers will have good handwriting. In any case, I think that Shaughnessy’s point is that handwriting is a tool of communication. If a person can not read another’s handwriting it blocks the communication. Poor handwriting can be seen as improper or uneducated, just as a poorly organized or poorly punctuated paper calls (negative) attention to itself, poor handwriting skills will avert the reader’s attention to the perceived incorrectness rather than the thoughts on the page.

While handwriting is becoming more and more unneeded as we infiltrate computers into society, it is worthy to note that hand written notes still exist and might mean more than ever if it is perceived as illegible. Therein lies the importance of handwriting.