Take Note

May 30, 2001 1 min read

The Write Stuff

In a world where computers have cornered the market on producing technically perfect P’s and Q’s, neat handwriting may seem like an outdated skill.

But not for Miho Ueda, a 5th grader at the 110-student Principled Academy, a private school in San Leandro, Calif. She’s the 5th grade California State Handwriting Champion.

Miho competed in the National Handwriting Contest, sponsored by the Zaner-Bloser Co. of Columbus, Ohio, the nation’s leading publisher of handwriting texts for students in grades K-8. Judges reviewed more than 104,000 student handwriting samples. Children were asked to copy a sentence provided by the company and then to write one of their own, both in cursive.

Miho’s teacher, Brenna Iredale, encouraged her to submit a sample.

“I’m always looking for ways to recognize each student’s talents, and Miho is so artistic,” she said.

Students begin learning cursive in the 2nd and 3rd grades after they’ve mastered the alphabet and can print evenly. Miho showed talented early on, and by the 5th grade, her cursive had become so extraordinary it caught attention.

“Her handwriting is better than my own,” said Ms. Iredale. “In fact, it’s better than most adults’. You look at it, and you never think it could be done by a child.”

Ms. Iredale credits much of Miho’s skill to her strong hand muscles, but says that artistic inclinations and great patience play a role.

For Miho, her teacher said, handwriting is an intensely beautiful art form that makes a computer’s seemingly perfect keystrokes dull and boring.

“She works deliberately and cautiously,” said Ms. Iredale. “Not like some of us who just scribble things down.”

—Marianne Hurst

A version of this article appeared in the May 30, 2001 edition of Education Week