Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Bringing Legibility Back
For the first time in '07, I am writing by hand on student work. In the
spring and summer, I taught exclusively online. Today, after penning notes on a
short stack of two-paragraph summaries, I feel like
Cuban (fine, Cuban as a broke grad student)--able only to scratch together
an unreadable Rorschach blot when I put the pen to the paper. My handwriting is
embarrassing! I already knew I couldn't draw; now I can't even draw letters.
When committee members at Prospective U. (it's the season of market
preparations) say something like, "I noticed that all of your materials are
typewritten. How is your handwriting?," I will resort to an end-around,
by-passing the subject of handwriting (as a basic literacy andprequalifier for the professoriate?) altogether, and
getting right to an answer that begins, "I can qwerty like the breeze...."
Posted by Derek Mueller at September 5, 2007 3:20 PM
to Dry Ogre Chalking
Whenever I hand back stuff with my writing on it, I have to circulate while students reading my comments, interpreting my scratching...
A few of the students from the course you taught this summer gave me a hard time last night because my chalking of "ranked" looked to them something more like "rawked."
I just got a tablet pc and spent the evening a few nights ago writing 50 sentences that would give the computer a taste of what my writing meant. Electronic writing has "miles to go" before it catches up with me, let's just say. "EN 001/Prof. Howard" came out as "Indians / Prot. Homrd" with lots o' redlining.
V. funny, Prot. Is it a graphic tablet or one of the laptops that lets you handwrite on it? I've been eyeing a graphic tablet for a few months. Pricey and impractical (which, in part, explains the temptation). It'd be a good excuse to practice drawing every so often.
Uhhhhhh. I believe it's a graphic tablet, and yeah, pricey, but after lugging my fifteen pounder to NY, I realized that I needed something lighter if I plan (and I do plan)to bring it to school and use it as my main computer for inputting grades, etc. Not to mention traveling to New Orleans. And, like you, I'm drawn (oh, the wit of it all)to using graphic applications along with written ones.
I've never tested this response on a committee, but I always tell my students, "My bad penmanship is one of my greatest gifts to you because when you don't understand it, we'll finally have a thoughtful conversation about your writing."
Students politely laugh each time.