Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Art of Penmanship

Thinking about yesterday, and my inability to type due to the shakiness, made me sad for the nice penmanship I used to have. I always had A's or B+'s in penmanship - both manuscript and cursive in school. On a good day now, my writing is neat, but not like it used to be. 

Even as recently as 2009, I took a calligraphy class in college. It was a lot of fun, and my addressed Christmas cards looked pretty good that year. I do not think I could make it pretty again.
My best friend in school had the neatest handwriting of everyone I knew. His name is Patrick, but we stopped being best friends at age 22. I think marrying other people, and my moving to another state, had something to do with us losing contact, but I digress. 

My middle son also has beautiful handwriting. He always did, right from the beginning. His degree is in Graphic Design, so it is good that his handwriting is great. The picture below is the version of cursive he and I both learned in school.
I have been relying on my computer for the last few years, even for correspondence with friends, because my handwriting is not what I would like it to be. I remember my mother saying the same thing when she was about my age. Mom had learned the Palmer method, which she demonstrated to me once. It looked very complicated to produce, because of the way her hand had to move.
At one time, we both could write in Gregg Shorthand and would send letters to each other using it for a page or two so we would remember how to do so.
My youngest son was homeschooled for grades 2-5. I did not teach him cursive, because his printing was so bad. He could read it, but he could not write anything except his name. His signature was not very legible then, and it is indecipherable now. Thankfully, his field is Finance, although he has a doctor's signature.

When he was returning to public school, I met with his teachers so they would know where he stood academically. I told them I would teach him how to do cursive if they needed him to know it. His teachers told me he did not need to know how to write cursive as long as he could read what was written on the board. 

Ironically, my oldest son's half-sister learned cursive, instead of printing, at her elementary school. The thinking was that circles are easier for children to make. If you watch a toddler, he or she will make more circles than lines. Maria Montessori observed this, and Montessori schools teach cursive.

Today, most people feel manuscript or cursive is outdated, because children use computers almost from Day One. I think it is important for children to learn the eye-hand coordination required in both. Leave me a comment below to let me know if you believe children these days should learn to write on paper.

- Amelia

Addendum:  Line on "Chicago P. D." tonight: "Don't schools teach penmanship anymore?"