Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 150 - Penmanship

In college I was hired by a parent who put an ad in the local newspaper for a tutor for her daughter.  You might think I was hired to teach her eight year old daughter math or spanish but it was for penmanship. Every Saturday for two months during the summer at 8 AM my student arrived at my apartment.  We walked out to my front porch that was on the second floor and looked over the park in the middle of town.  The birds chirped and an occasional car drove by but for the most part it was quiet.  I have to admit that I can't remember my student's name.  She started out writing in cursive that was absolutely atrocious.  She had never been taught penmanship in school and her mother was doing the right thing and getting her child help that wasn't available to help her learn how to write legibly.  She found an additional resource to help her child learn what should have been provided by the school.  What a great mother who can recognize a deficiency in her child's learning environment and then have the courage to do something about it.  For this one hour each week I was paid $10.  That was a pretty good deal for me and for her as well.

As a result over the eight weeks, my student really learned stupendously and had better handwriting than myself!  I started off showing her the top and bottom boundaries.  The dotted middle line showed her the guidelines for where the tops of o's, a's and other guidelines where the letters should not extend.  I think this was representative of most things in which children don't do well.  They just need to be shown the boundaries.  The children who are never shown boundaries go on to break laws and hurt other people.  My father was a good example of this lack of boundary rearing during his childhood.

He told me that his parents, my grandparents had really never cared for him.  He came to this conclusion based on their nonchalant attitude of never telling him he had to be home by a certain time.  He had no boundaries.  He claimed they never came looking for him either when he didn't come home. As a result he went on to hurt his wives, his children and his mother. He to this day is estranged from all blood relatives and has told me to only contact him when his Dad, my grandfather is dead and buried because he wants to go piss on his grave.  Clearly he lives with no boundaries and doesn't care about the impact he has on others.

With the teenagers of this modern era, boundaries are just as important.  Especially due to the enormity of the internet and its mask of identity.  Texting and typing frees this generation from the need to know how to learn how to write cursively.  They may feel like it isn't necessary but how are they going to read the writing of the past?  I have saved and remember at the age of twelve writing letters to my grandmother.  I was never so excited as to see a letter addressed to me in cursive from her.  I mattered enough to her for her to sit down and write a letter.  It wasn't long but it was the time it took to write, address it and know that I was on her mind. 

Spencerian Handwriting
I have time now but I'm still in a hurry.  I try to write as neat as I can to keep my handwriting in top shape.  I'm still not as perfect as the girl who always had her paper returned from the handwriting specialists as the model for cursive, but I'm striving to get there.  One day I aspire to write in Spencerian Style, and as in all things, its the journey not perfection itself that is important.

To create your own worksheets for your children click here: 

Handwriting is civilization's casual encephalogram.

~ Lance Morrow

Encephalogram - a measurement of the activity of the electricity used in the brain.

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