“Excuse me!” She ran down the corridor after me. “I just wanted to ask, if you have time, could you come back and show me your handwriting please? It’s just I’ve never met a handwriting specialist before and I’d really like to see your writing.”
And there it was. Impending judgement. My stomach dropped a little as I processed her words.
I reminded myself that it was perfectly reasonable for this teacher to be interested (or was she feeling defensive I wonder?) … and also perfectly natural for me to be alert to judgement. It’s a very human thing isn’t it, judging and feeling judged?
Job titles are necessary and useful in helping people begin to understand what we do, but I’m always aware that mine brings certain expectations with it. Expectations that mean my handwriting is gonna be judged - obviously!
It’s interesting because my work really isn’t about MY handwriting, it’s about my ability to help other people with theirs… teaching them and helping them develop a script they feel good about, is legible and useful (and helping other teachers do that too). Of course, how my writing looks is part of the evidence base; I understand that.
It’s good to be conscious because judgement is what so many children and adults feel when it comes to handwriting.
It can make them not want to write.
It can make them feel frustrated, angry, embarrassed and self-conscious.
It can raise anxiety levels, taking up precious space in working memory that is needed for so many other things.
It can make them want to write more.
It can make them feel proud and confident.
It can also tip into influencing aspirations for perfection which become impractical or even damaging.
Judgements can make us feel bad OR good and they influence our behaviour.
I’ll share some stories of people who have been affected by judgement of their handwriting in future blogs.
I replied honestly.
“Haha, people often seem to imagine I’m going to have some amazing calligraphic style. I’m sure they’re either disappointed or unimpressed by how regular it is! It’s neat (when I want it to be), it’s cursive (when I want it to be)… but it’s not calligraphy!”
My general style is the product of continually modelling for others - I often wish it had a bit more flair and personality!
My styles are also the product of how I’m feeling or the task I’m undertaking.
Styles. Plural. A spectrum.
I guess I’d better show you my writing then. Let’s get it over with!
If you can, tune in to your thoughts, whatever they may be. Notice what you hear yourself thinking…
“Well that’s nothing special,” or
“What a mess!” or
“It’s quite nice,” or
“Mine’s better,” or
“I wish my writing was neater,” or
“Who cares about handwriting anyway?” or
Note how I've been lowering your expectations... a useful strategy when we feel vulnerable to potentially negative judgement.
Here we go!
So there you go. Eight shades of '✍? Nicky Writing'. There are more (maybe not fifty) but you get the idea.
So what do you think of my handwriting? What’s your opinion? Your judgement?
And how do you feel about yours?
PS Did you notice how I started off with my messiest styles then built up to my neater ones? ;)
Come and tell me on Twitter @nicky_parr
or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next blog: I’ll be sharing my thoughts about teacher expectations when it comes to handwriting.