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Re: news from Norway


Kate Gladstone <[log in to unmask]>


Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>


Thu, 31 Jul 2003 12:28:56 -0400





text/plain (101 lines)

Jeff reports (on French education) that:

> ... students slow or clumsy to takes notes (and read
> their own writing) have difficulties to adapt to secondary education
> and proceed to university.

In the USA, of course, just about everyone can "proceed to university":
at least, to *some* kind of university or college, since certain
schools have (shall we say) set their entrance-requirements quite low.
          But the fact remains that students who have trouble taking
notes (or reading the notes that they take) have trouble adapting to
education past the primary level. (They may even have trouble WITHIN
the primary level, given the increased reliance of school-curricula on
creative writing, "journaling," and state-wide tets that increasingly
require timed handwritten essays.)
           People in the USA will probably start worrying more, much
more, about this in March 2005, when a timed-handwritten-essay section
becomes part of the USA's Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT (taken
nationally, and used to judge students' ability to do college-level
work at those colleges where "college-level work" still means
anything.) Students taking the new SAT will have 25 minutes to compose
and pen a two-page essay on an assigned subject - an essay which the
graders will have 4 minutes to read and evaluate, and which will count
for 1/6 of the total SAT grade. (Completed essays will also go - as
scans - onto a special web-site open only to college-admissions
officers, who can then use these as part of their admit-or-reject

As anyone knows who has seen the handwritings of USA high-schoolers,
most of them cannot pen two legible pages in 25 minutes - someone given
two pages of their writing would need far more than 4 minutes just to
decipher (let alone to evaluate) the text.
        Among the relatively few USA high-schoolers who do write
legibly, most of them can do so only at a laboriously slow rate. (In
many cases, they would require 25 minutes to complete a short

We can expect that USA teen-agers (and their parents & teachers) will
suddenly care a lot more about handwriting (and will, specifically,
demand handwriting-training in schools and in SAT cram-to-pass
programs) as soon as the first batch of scores from the March 2004
exams reaches the students.

Already, I get anxious inquiries from students (as well as from
teachers and parents) about how to learn to write well enough to pass
existing or future tests that involve timed handwritten essays. (Teens
and even children can easily discern that they will soon need a skill
that no adult has ever bothered to teach them.)

> Could be that neglect to teach fine, elegant, handwriting will
> benefit attendance to calligraphy courses (a future must-have on the
> curriculum of plush private schools) and the use of fine fonts. Who
> knows ?

I can only hope so ...

> Maybe it will lead to restore graphological tests for the selection
> of top-executives (only the vulgus pecum won't have to produce
> something by hand) ?

Given the errors committed by most graphologists, I can only hope
*not*. Most graphologists, in fact, suspect and dislike a "too-good"
handwriting (e.g., a script that they regard as abnormally beautiful)
and also tend to suspect/dislike a handwriting that differs much from
the handwriting-styles that they learned about in graphology-school.

Few if any graphology-textbooks mention Italic, for instance, other
than perhaps to describe it as an affectation used by those writers who
have decided not to use some other, allegedly "real" handwriting that
they presumably had before they learned Italic. Therefore, many
graphologists will not analyze - or will not favorably analyze - any
Italic handwriting. Graphologists often get mad - REALLY mad - when I
given them evidence that quite a few schoolchildren in the USA and
elsewhere learn Italic as their first and only form of handwriting:
therefore, these schoolchildren, once grown, would not have any "real"
handwriting except Italic to present to the graphologist.

(I have seen at least one eminent graphologist turn a vivid shade of
magenta when I documented for her that, in the largest city of the
state where she lived, about 3/4 of people starting school during or
after 1976 had learned Italic in childhood: she regarded Italic as,
essentially, an adult accomplishment and "not a real handwriting
because everybody knows that real handwriting joins all of its letters
and uses the Palmer Method cursive capitals."

> (for ex., I'm not sure at all there
> is a correlation between taste for calligraphy or just fine
> handwriting and the use of fine typefaces, that is, on a statistical
> significant scale).

I know quite a few people who got into calligraphy and/or Italic
handwriting because their computers had calligraphic/Italic-handwriting
fonts which led them to wonder whether a human hand could produce the
same letter-forms.

Kate Gladstone - Handwriting Repair -

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