Wikimedia Wikimedia
Fatherly Forum

3 Reasons Why Your Kid’s Lousy Handwriting Couldn’t Possibly Matter Less

The following was syndicated from Quora for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].

Does it mean anything that my 8-year-old daughter’s handwriting is illegible? She is very bright — is this just laziness?

Do not worry. Focus on anything else, but don’t waste time on handwriting. I say this for the sake of your child as well. Not only is it a futile topic to worry about, your influence is less than you may think and — more importantly — it does not have any indicative or predictive value whatsoever. Let me illustrate with a personal story:

My handwriting is quite possibly the worst you will see in your life. Think of how that 8-year-old writes and multiply it with the effect of being in the medical profession. Laura Copeland once sent me this, in her infinite wit and wisdom.

main-qimg-91f8f77e8cbf6dcfa9d761ec7b1e4a7c-c

I have been prosecuted by my father and almost all of my elementary school teachers like a witch in the dark ages, and spent many nights soiling “improve your writing” booklets with a mix of tears and fountain pen ink. All in vain.

baby in taco costume
RELATED

How My Kid Skipped Baby Food And Went Straight To Tacos

In high school, quite often the only criticism I got still was that dang writing of mine. Then came college and no one suddenly gave a rat’s ass about my writing and grades skyrocketed faster than the dotcom boom and I fared pretty well. So really, don’t worry for a second about your kids’ handwriting; it is completely unrelated to any other skill that will be relevant in her life.

Sign Of Intelligence?
I’ve seen utter morons write what essentially was a waste of ink in beautiful calligraphy. Want your kid to look smart? Use grown-up grammar and teach her a fun new word every day. If possible, let her grow up in a multilingual environment. No excuses: there is no place in the world where one can only speak one language. I tried my best to develop these skills and still enjoy their value each and every day — my handwriting is still shit.

Predictor Of Success?
That was a popular concept until typewriters came about, but I hope to sweet baby jeeves not anymore. I should be living under the bridge if that were the case. Let me then just point out for arguments’ sake that I’m a doctor and a Fulbright scholar who did his PhD research and a postdoc at Harvard. And (update:) as of 2016 I also just landed a coveted job at a firm known for having the hardest interview process — my handwriting is still shit.

Important Step Towards Fine Manual Skills?
I can pull off a mean stitch, separate the layers of a blood vessel without damaging it or use a MIDI console with more knobs and buttons than a pilot’s cockpit without messing up — my handwriting is still shit.

Ramzi Amri has an MD and PhD. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Harvard Med/Mass General Surgical Oncologist. Read more from Quora below: