Roy Exum: Our Handwriting Wish

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I can remember a time in my life when I could recognize a person’s handwriting. It was back when we used to send and receive letters and postcards and love notes with our friends. But the biggest reason I am wildly in favor of a bill now in the Tennessee Legislature that will hopefully make it a law that all children must learn to write and read in cursive by the third grade is because – right now – I can hardly sign my name.

Don’t worry; in the next few weeks I hope to be outfitted with a new, and marvelous, brace on my arm that will finally position my right hand where it can hold a pen or pencil. I have been wearing a rigid brace for months, one that positions my “writing hand” with the palm up to help me carry things since I have no elbow joint.

My new brace will purposely have my thumb up instead so I can not only shake hands properly but – at long last – write a quick letter or take notes because just watching me endorse a check makes the bank clerks cringe. You have no idea how terrible it is if you can’t write and, because I have such a perspective, I can say that good handwriting is essential to a full and happy life. And just like riding a bicycle, everybody must learn how to do it.

We live in a word of gadgets, from computers to tablets, and while today’s young can text on an iPhone faster than I can talk, the ability to write in a clear and concise hand should be a prerequisite to an elementary school education. We should have spelling exercises, primary writing classes and tests where the answers must be hand-written as well.

State Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia) authored House Bill 1697 after she was told many of today’s children can’t write or read the Bill of Rights in its original form. But Tennessee will soon be like California, Georgia and Massachusetts in demanding our children should be adequately prepared for life that includes some form on handwriting virtually every day.

Before my bout with infections that caused me to reject artificial joints, I didn’t have “a pretty hand” when it came to writing, more of a print-like style, but I loved to drop people notes. Since then I have envied people who write beautifully and it isn’t lost on any of us it is becoming an extinct art. Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) is a school teacher and said, “Not only do kids not know how to write cursive, they don’t know how to write, period. The style is really rather tragic, to see some of the materials we have to read.”

The bill, which was delayed on Tuesday for one week, is certain to pass. Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) is the youngest legislator at age 29 and he expects a large bipartisan vote to approve the bill. “You need to be able to write in the event your computer, your phone or your iPad batteries fail.”

I noticed last summer that some schools were discontinuing algebra II for the simple reason there was little use for it in “the real world.” Good handwriting has just the opposite effect, whether you are reminding your child about baseball practice or leaving a note that you’ll be home in time for dinner. It is a vital educational tool, not to mention its primary purpose – communication.

* * *

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” -- Anaïs Nin

“Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.” -- F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” -- Mark Twain

“A woman's perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” – Christian Dior

“I’m ambidextrous. I can write just as poorly with either hand.” – Jarod Kintz.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen your handwriting before. It’s an oddly personal thing, isn’t it?” -- Ann Aguirre.

“A bad handwriting is as annoying to a reader … as an irritating voice is to a listener.” – Mokokoma Mokhonoana.

“Man is a strange animal. He generally cannot read the handwriting on the wall until his back is up against it.” – Adlai Stevenson.

“You may not be able to read a doctor’s handwriting and prescription, but you’ll notice his bills are neatly typed.” – Earl Wilson.

“Handwriting is an imprint of the self on the page.” – Dr. Rosemary Sasson.

“If your handwriting is barely legible, it makes them think that you are not really an organized person. That you are writing too fat and not thinking about it.” – Adam Levinson.

Climate Change Or Change The Climate

Is it "Climate Change", or "Change the Climate"?  We are being told that we can change the climate. If so, let's all really believe, close our eyes very tightly, click our heels together and from now until eternity, it will be sunny and seventy-five degrees.  Bob Bogart (click for more)

Thankful For Earl Freudenberg

This is certainly a red letter week for Chattanooga's best supporters.  My long time friend Earl Freudenberg was elected to the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.  It is an honor he well deserves.  After writing a letter in support of recognition for Bob Elmore's contributions to making Chattanooga great, I read where Earl was selected for this notable honor.  I ... (click for more)

Larry Schumacher Named Chief Executive Officer Of CHI Memorial

The board of directors of CHI Memorial and Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) have chosen Larry Schumacher as the chief executive officer (CEO) of CHI Memorial effective Jan. 4, 2016 . Mr. Schumacher comes to CHI Memorial from Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) based in Springfield, Illinois where he served as system chief operating officer for the past eight years.  ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Under Flood Watch Through Wednesday

With a steady rain set to continue through Wednesday, Chattanooga is under a flood watch. Over four inches of rain are expected in some areas. Here is the advisory from the National Weather Service: ...LOCALIZED FLOODING POSSIBLE ACROSS EAST TENNESSEE AND SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING... .THE COMBINATION OF DEEP SUBTROPICAL MOISTURE AND A SLOW MOVING FRONTAL ... (click for more)

No 1 Connecticut Overwhelms Lady Mocs, 79-31

At least 6,104 basketball enthusiasts got to see what the best women’s college basketball team in the country looks like Monday night at McKenzie Arena. The three-time defending national champion Connecticut Huskies won for the fourth time this season and 41 st game in a row with an impressive 79-31 victory over the Chattanooga Lady Mocs before the seventh-largest crowd in ... (click for more)

Mocs Fall 64-54 At ULM

The Chattanooga Mocs (5-2) five-game-in-10-day road show ended Monday night with a 64-54 loss at ULM (3-2). The squad shot a season-low 35.3 percent (18-51) in the loss. "I felt like we had good shots, especially in the first half,” coach Matt McCall said. “We were getting down the lane and guys were just flat out missing layups. Everyone for the most part was getting in the ... (click for more)