Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The story behind Dr. IQ McGrew's infamous WJ III and WJ IV test easel signature

I was pleased to receive my WJ IV test battery last week (I am a coauthor--conflict of interest disclosure). I was surprised to see that the publisher had lifted the author signatures that were on a limited edition printing of the WJ III back in 2001. So there I was looking at my barely third grade level signature....again. It made me laugh.

Today I received an email (the second) commenting on my signature. I provided the story. The person (semi-serious or tonque-n-check) was relieved as they thought it showed signs of a sub-clinical tremor and the possibility of signs of emerging problems.

The real truth is a funny story (in retrospect). When I was in grade school I struggled with "penmanship." I hated it. We used the Palmer Method. Everyday we had to practice making repetitive, rhythmic shapes.....and it was hell for me. My fingers turned red and I pressed so damn hard. Couple that with some spelling problems, and if I had been a child in today's schools, I would likely have been diagnosed with a mild spelling disability and dysgraphia. It likely is genetic, as my 37 year old son's handwriting (if you can call it that) is even worse and shows all the same signs.

Fast forward to the original request to supply the publisher with my signature for the WJ III. I spent the good part of a morning trying to make the best possible signature using different pens, pencils and multiple pieces of paper. I ended up with two choices. One would be my adult signature, which is a wild K followed by a few squiggly lines, with a very crude M somewhere in the middle. It is a way to disguise my horrible penmanship. I sent the publisher a page with various versions of the two types (doing it slow and doing it fast) and simply told them to pick one. They picked the one that was my best effort, and I swear it would not be judged as being beyond third grade level work. my signature is back to haunt me.

The good news is that in high school I completed a typing course. And damn, I was the fastest male student in my large class and earned many of those small words-per-minute pins. It was not the coolest thing to brag about in high school. Then, when PC's became available  later, all my problems were over (except for my spelling issues--which I think are more due to a very "busy mind"---and can be handled by spell check--if I bother to do it). I can type at a very fast rate on a computer keyboard. Technology saved me. I tell people that typing was the most important class I completed in high school. I have fond memories of Mrs. Carpenter, my HS typing teacher at Moorhead High. She made a difference.

So...before the rumors start the I am in some form of neurocognitive decline, I wanted to share "the rest of the story."

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