The following article tackles the controversial topic of whether handwriting is a necessary school-level ability and if it truly relates to one’s capabilities as a writer. The author of the piece is Anne Turbek, the editor in chief of Belt magazine. Throughout the work Trubek (2008) works to convince the reader that handwriting assessments on an educational level are not only unnecessary, but potentially detrimental to young students. She uses a number of examples to illustrate that being a successful writer and having adequate handwriting no longer correlate in the modern day. Trubek utilizes herself as an example, citing that she uses typing almost exclusively for all her work. She provides examples of the original purposes of handwriting, the changes to publishing brought by typing technology, and the modern day approaches to writing text.
Trubek ascertains the importance of the controversial theme of her work by illustrating the issues that come from mandated handwriting currently present in schools. She does so by providing a personal example, her own son’s experience with handwriting difficulty. Initially, she describes the issue with imagery, such as her son being unable to write the letter ‘G’ and ‘t’ correctly. The issue is compounded by his teacher notifying Trubek that this may cause him to fail the state assessment. She is able to convey a larger scale of worry in the life of her son, as being repeatedly told that his handwriting is bad has made him feel like an inadequate writer. However, through a series of examples, Trubek is able to depict that handwriting assessment and its connection to writing is largely irrelevant in the modern-day.
To better understand the current standard for handwriting within schools and its association with written works, Trubek retells the history of print and scripture. In her own words, many of the values that are presently associated with handwriting, such as identity, were not considered prior to the popularization of typing equipment. Medieval monks, frequent users of handwritten methods, were concerned with idiosyncrasies and human error as print became available and not with identity. As Trubek relays, it was a method that was formulaic and not self-expressive. With the invention of typing, penmanship took on a more romanticized nature, with the craft being seen as more authentic. However, as Trubek says, the perception of handwriting as more genuine does not define it as being the superior mode of forming words, narratives, and other works in a written format. Trubek uses Henry James, the creator of the 1880s, as an example. His own novels were written and typed through dictation by his assistant and were not in any way less authentic through this approach.
Trubek continues by offering modern examples, such as the approach used by the writer Richard Powers. Powers himself states that he exclusively uses speech-to-type and voice recognition technology. Powers not only embraces modern methodology but evokes the rejection of nostalgia without purpose. Trubek is able to quote him effectively and convey her own stance on the issue in a statement in which Powers defines writing as a process through which ideas in the mind are transformed into words on a page. Both Trubek and Powers emphasize that in that process something is always lost, and whether it is conducted through handwriting or voice recognition has little relevance to the finished work. Additionally, emerging technology allows many individuals who had previously been unable to write to find accessible and adequate tools or approaches. Trubek is able to summarize that handwriting as a mandatory skill is waning in the sphere of writing.
In the closing sentences of her article, Trubek returns to the issue faced by her son. Similarly to many, her son is unable to effectively convert his mental ideas into words through the approach of handwriting. Trubek has shown how the current educational standards, by enforcing it as a mandatory ability, limit his confidence as a writer. She illustrates how her son can personally benefit from modern technology, such as voice recognition tools, but is unlikely to do so within the current state of educational standards. Though her initial thought may have been controversial, Trubek is able to provide evidence that current expectations are unnecessary if not harmful. Her offered solution includes the rejection of handwriting as a compulsory skill of a modern-day writer.
Throughout the piece, Trubek uses a number of linguistic tools such as imagery, historical evidence, and cause and effect rhetoric. Essentially, she is successful in outlining the personal issues faced by her son as an element of a larger issue that is posed by the current mandatory standard of handwriting testing. She is able to provide adequate alternatives from real world examples through past and present authors. With the use of imagery, such as her son’s struggle or the absurdity of handwriting being integral to creating text to connect with the reader on a more internal level. She also allows the reader to observe evidence, such as handwriting having no relation to identity initially, and her conclusions. Overall, Trubek is successful in conveying the fact that not only does writing appear in many forms in the modern day, but that conforming to archaic educational models has negative connotations for students.
Trubek, Anne. “Stop Teaching Handwriting.” Good, 2008, Web.