I’ll be the first to admit that my handwriting stinks. I’ve gotten so used to typing that it is a pain (almost literally) to pick up a pen and write more than a few words or phrases. At the conference last week I took all my notes on the Powerbook or on the thumb keyboard of my Palm. Once upon a time I used to have good handwriting and I’ve got the school certificate to prove it. But even my mother, who for many years forbid me from sending her typed letters, now prefers email so she can actually read what I’ve written.

Many teachers will tell you I’m not alone in this lack of penmanship skills. Lots of kids today have grown up with computers all around them and have come through elementary schools that have de-emphasized the handwriting practice they once gave awards for. So it may come as a shock to some students who next year will have to write an essay for their SATs – in longhand, without benefit of computer. It may also come as a shock to the people who have to grade those tests.

Some students who think they’ll write a good essay are worried scorers won’t be able to decipher it, raising the question of whether penmanship should be getting more attention in the classroom.

"People like myself, who don’t have good handwriting, are wondering if some anonymous person is going to think I spelled stuff wrong and not understand what I’m trying to say," said Lucas Rohm, 16, a Country Day alum who is now a rising junior at Greenwich High School.

I’m glad I don’t have to take the tests – or read them.