Car conversations: handwriting stress

 
“Your day will be full of luck”
D received this message in a fortune cookie he was eating in the car, as we zipped from childminder’s to karate.

D: Well that’s great – not. There’s hardly any day left!

Me: But has your day felt lucky so far?

D: No! I got told off for my handwriting.

Me: Oh. Why did you get told off?

D: We were told to do our best, and I did my best, but my teacher said: “Dylan, you need to do something about your handwriting. We can’t do it – only you can do it.” She said it in the voice that told me she was really annoyed with me and was telling me off.

Me: What are you supposed to do about it and when? Just try harder whenever you write anything?

D: I don’t know – I did my best. You told me my handwriting wasn’t that bad. 

Me: I said your handwriting’s a lot better than a lot of students’ work that I see in secondary school. Your handwriting isn’t GOOD, but it’s certainly a lot tidier than some that I see. I’ll show you some examples and you can see if you like? Shall I tell you WHY teachers get so worked up about handwriting?

D: Why?

Me: Because, rightly or wrongly – people will make a judgement about other people based on presentation. 

D: What’s ‘judgement’?

Me: So, if a new teacher was to look at your work and, even if it used some great words and sentences, if it looks messy, they might take one look and – without even reading it – they might think you’re no good. Sometimes it won’t matter what words you use. I don’t mean YOU specifically – anyone. It’s the same with speaking and giving speeches. You know about percentages? Well, if you write the best speech in the world, using the best words and what’s actually IN the speech is amazing, if you don’t present it well with body language and how you communicate verbally, people won’t listen. I think it’s something crazy like 80% body language and HOW you speak and only 20% based on the actual words and WHAT you are saying that people remember.

D: Well I think that’s wrong. It should be about what words you use. 

Me: I agree, but that’s just how people are.

D: But I can speak well.

Me: I know you can, and don’t you forget it – it’s one of your strengths.

D: So you’re telling me that if I write really bad words, but they look nice that I will get a “Well done, good work.”?

Me: Well, why don’t you test it out? I love testing things like that out – sometimes testing makes me feel better if someone is saying something I don’t agree with.

D: Won’t I get told off?

Me: Don’t write rude words, and promise that you will only do it for this and not give up on your amazing words which are your strength… but it would be an interesting test.

D: I wouldn’t write rude words! I’m going to do that. It makes me feel better when someone says something bad about me and I know it’s not the truth and so I can answer back saying something smarter – that makes me feel really good.

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