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Handwriting: Introduction

by Edward L. Thorndike - 1910

Handwriting may profitably be studied from three points of view: —that of the physiology and psychology of movement,i that of the part it may play in the intelligently directed activities of child life in schools,ii and that of the direct examination of the quality and speed of handwriting secured by various forms of school training. But to any study of it there is one very desirable preliminary — some means of measuring the quality of a sample of handwriting. At present we can do no better than estimate a handwriting as very bad, bad, good, very good, or extremely good, knowing only vaguely what we mean- thereby, running the risk of shifting our standards with time, and only by chance meaning the same by a word as some other student of the facts means by it. We are in the condition in which students of temperature were before the discovery of the thermometer or any other scale for measuring temperature beyond the very hot, hot, warm, lukewarm, and the like, of subjective opinion. We opine roughly that, at a fairly rapid rate, writing-movements in which the forearm shares are able to produce a better quality of handwriting than movements confined more exclusively to the thumb and fingers, but no one could estimate with surety and precision how much better the best rapid " free-arm " writing is than the best equally rapid " finger-movement " writing. We opine roughly that drills in which good writing serves some end of consequence to the children will be more efficient than drills for mere penmanship, but no one could estimate how much more efficient they will be. We know that some schools secure better writing at a given speed than do other schools, but no one could tell how much better in any terms sure of understanding and agreement; for we have no scale to measure handwriting, by. No pupil, teacher, or superintendent of schools knows how well any child, class, or group of children writes in anything approaching the sense in which we know how hot any liquid is or how long a wire is.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 11 Number 2, 1910, p. 1-3
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10060, Date Accessed: 5/31/2020 1:56:17 PM

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  • Edward Thorndike

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