Good Handwriting is a Useless Talent


…When I was in the third grade, I won some of those scribe contests, the prizes for which were shiny ribbons. Useless ribbons for useless talent.

or so they say...

or so they say…

These days, I don’t think I could win any scribe contests, because I’m more of a scribble scrawler, even when arthritis isn’t killin me, which it often is. My writing was much neater when I was younger, but then I wrote more by hand then. I don’t write letters as often as I used to, which I think may be killin my mother, who writes like this:

and this is just her scribble scrawl, y'all

and this is just her scribble scrawl, y’all

See, my mother was a civil engineering draftsman, long before CAD, and she writes everything perfectly.

yes, we do our crosswords with a pen

yes, we do our crosswords with a pen

When little girls are inclined to imitate their mothers, I must have aspired to handwriting greatness or somethin. I also dreamed of being long and tan like her, so at least this handwriting bit worked out for me.

It’s pretty typical that teachers have good penmanship, but even so, not a requirement.

These days, writing by hand just isn’t as common. When I fill out forms, I get compliments, which are perhaps even less useful than shiny ribbons. Can you imagine if compliments were currency?

I have addressed invitations and written recipe cards for people, as favors — like anyone would pay for that!

I could forge my father’s signature by the age of my poorly completed long division, but beyond that, being able to copy the handwriting of others has also proven to be a useless skill.

If I had anything of importance to say about handwriting, it would be that it needs to be taught.
My kids were all taught cursive, but many schools no longer teach it, and as such, students are not permitted to do assignments in cursive, because not all students can read it. As an English major, that seems unfathomable. Can you imagine how time-sucking and painful it would be to have printed out every essay you ever wrote?!? I can. Sounds bloody awful to me. It’s a form of illiteracy, being unable to read anything written in cursive. On a personal note, one day The Mister and I will be gone and I’m pleased that our kids will be able to read decades of our correspondence.

yes the mister has the handwriting of a serial killer, but he isn't one

yes the mister has the handwriting of a serial killer, but he isn’t one

Good handwriting gets you nowhere. Do you have a useless talent? I won’t ask you for a demonstration.

This post is part of Just Jot It January, which is also via LindaGHill, because apparently, I do whatever she tells me to, she inspires me.

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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47 Responses to Good Handwriting is a Useless Talent

  1. meANXIETYme says:

    That’s really creepy and weird, Joey, because I just finished sharing this article with my family (and therapist) about writing by hand. I think you have a more useful talent than you know.

    I used to write my books longhand, and I loved it. It really did work much better for me. I love writing longhand, but I, too, suffer with hand-and-finger-and-arm pain that takes away some of that passion for longhand writing. I miss it. My handwriting is hit-or-miss with how nice it looks, depending on how much time I have to write and how much pain I’m in.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. LindaGHill says:

    Hahaha! I’m glad I INSPIRED you. hehehe. And your handwriting is lovely. And you’re absolutely right – it needs to be taught in schools. I remember the first time someone told me they couldn’t read cursive and I didn’t believe them. So very very sad.
    So okay, I’ll share another useless talent. I can bend all my fingers at the first knuckle (the one closest to the fingernail) only.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I actually think this is a very useful talent… and yes people would pay to have beautifully scripted letters, invitations etc. (and your script is gorgeous – Also you could do signage with writing like that) Should technology ever crash and burn you would have the gift of being able to actually write out communications.

    I taught all 4 of my kids cursive, also how to read an analog clock (I am totally astounded that most of my kids’ friends cannot – my youngest 2 are now 15 & 17).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cardamone5 says:

    The thing about cursive elimination from curriculum that bothers me is this: how are kids going to sign their names? Print it? I don’t think so.

    Useless skills…hmmm…let’s see: I’m excellent at flossing my teeth, but that’s not useless because I prevent tooth decay. Oh, I know, I can use a hot glue gun with the best of them. I had been hearing about hot glue gunning for some time before actually daring to try it out. When I realized how easy it is, and how addictive, I laughed. Really? I think the skill with this activity is more about not burning yourself.


    Liked by 4 people

  5. hollie says:

    Owen is not at the cursive writing age yet…but I’m not sure if they will teach it. However, if they don’t teach him in school, I’m totally teaching him at home. I think it is a damn shame that we are raising a generation of young people who will be functionally illiterate, not able to write or read cursive and writing numbers instead of words. It just gets my goat.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agreed. It’s all about who’s teaching 2nd and 3rd grade. In both places my kids have gone to school, teaching cursive was up to the discretion of the teacher, and all four times my kids lucked out. Of course, I made sure to get Moo into 2nd grade with the same expert teacher Sassy had, so that wasn’t as much luck.
      If they hadn’t been taught at school, you can be for damn sure I would have taught it at home.


      • hollie says:

        Owen’s 2nd grade teacher is so disorganized that I’m surprised he is learning anything. How is a kid supposed to study spelling words if they don’t come home in his backpack? I’m hoping for a better third grade teacher that will teach him cursive there. I’ll totally teach him at home, but I think he’ll be more receptive to it at school. Fingers crossed. At least we know our kids won’t grow up to be illiterate!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Dan Antion says:

    Cursive is not useless. I often take notes and jot down ideas using a combination of cursive and doodles. I guess the age factor has me thinking that printing is something you eventually move beyond.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Susan says:

    Joey, your handwriting is so good, my mother would trade me for you, seriously. She edited my Thank you notes post wedding shower and made me write several over again!


  8. Carrie Rubin says:

    I was shocked when I learned some schools no longer teach cursive. Yes, most kids keyboard now, but they still need to know how to write. And as you point out, cursive is far easier than printing. Of course, my penmanship is terrible in both forms. And it gets worse each year…


  9. jetgirlcos says:

    Awww…sad! My mother also has gorgeous handwriting. Me? I love writing things out by hand. I strive to have nice handwriting, and I find that writing is calming. So is looking at beautiful handwriting, (Like your examples above!) You said “It’s a form of illiteracy, being unable to read anything written in cursive…” I totally agree. Not useless. On the contrary, it’s useful and it’s also art 🙂 Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This is such a delightfully rich post. Love it!
    My grade 5 teacher was OCD when it came to penmanship. He told us why, too. Apparently he failed a course in Teacher’s College strictly on the merits (or lack thereof) of his hand writing.

    I recall reading a novel set in India. One of the characters had the task of writing love letters or other correspondence for those who could not write. I always thought that would be a cool job to have.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. menomama3 says:

    My husband the teacher has completely illegible handwriting. He used to scribe the sweetest love letters which I always had to ask him to read cuz I couldn’t! I have too many useless talents to name, like organizing the fridge so the natural peanut butter is always visible thereby avoiding morning melt-downs of teenage girls.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sherry says:

    I can smell a stupid person at 60 yards. It’s a talent. HA! But you said useless didn’t you? hmmmm…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Jewels says:

    WHAT?! Many schools are no longer teaching cursive?! That’s alarming. I totally agree that not being able to read cursive is a form of illiteracy! Wow…
    My handwriting has gotten consistently worse over the years, but it is still my preferred method of writing, there’s nothing quite like sitting down with pen and paper in hand, and feeling the pen glide across the paper… ❤
    Your mom's handwriting is freaking gorgeous!!! Yours is pretty snazzy as well! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know, right? I sat down this morning and jotted a note to a friend, all the while thinking about how delighted the recipient would be. ❤ Happy mail!
      My mother's artistic abilities are insane, handwriting included 🙂


  14. Sammy D. says:

    You DO have lovely writing. Mom says I do, too. I hate that it’s becoming a lost art and measure of cultured societal norms. Our illiteracy rate in all subjects is alarming.

    My useless talent is how quickly I can devour a bag of Vic’s popcorn.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. danicapiche says:

    Wow, that is some nice hand writing! I also find it unfathomable that some schools no longer teach cursive. Why impose limits on people so early in life? What will they all do when there is a mass-power outage or systems crash?
    My useless talent is always finding a way to make coffee…even in emergency situations where the only supplies are a frying pan and hammer.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Kami says:

    My dad was an engineer and had perfect penmanship, like your mother. He still writes beautifully. I havent many samples of his writing though. I need to save the few I have. It is truly a lost art, but a beautifully useful one.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ralph says:

    You have lovely hand writing 😀
    Because I have vibrating hands mine looks like a drunken dyslexic heart monitor on drugs 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  18. My handwriting, along with the rest of the world’s population, has declined significantly. My dad has incredible writing, but he writes in all caps. My mom writes slanted to the left, the incorrect direction. In other words, when I tried following my parents’ handwriting examples as a kid, my teachers slapped my desk with a ruler a few times. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m shocked that kids don’t all learn cursive writing now! Obviously I don’t have kids, or I’d know that, but if I DID have kids they would definitely be required to learn that skill, useless or not.

    My useless talent… you would not believe how beautifully I can put wrapping paper on a box. This is made even more useless by the fact that I never bother with ribbons or bows or any other decoration.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. reocochran says:

    I was a language arts teacher, handwriting used to be part of the curriculum. I miss cursive handwriting and the art of letter writing, too. I wrote a post about this a long time ago, which may or may not be of interest. I appreciate this very much and I need to learn to move into this century, my kids say! ha ha!

    Liked by 3 people

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