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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.

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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.

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:

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