Friday, July 22, 2011

Autumn of roses...and hand writing?

My last roses and my favourite plens

I read an article in The Australian newspaper last week about handwriting disappearing from classrooms in the US, with the new national curriculum putting more importance on the computer keyboard than writing skills.

There is a strong argument that children need correct typing skills for efficiency; but surely the core standards for young students should be using a pen, pencil, crayon - whatever the implement – to write.

I remember the “good old” days when the teachers drew horizontal lines on the blackboard, all in chalk, and they would then form beautifully cursive letters for we little children to copy, carefully, in our own lined exercise books.  Once we reached Grade 3 we used a “dipping pen” which we dipped in the ink of the built inkwells of the desks .  And if we “dripped” the nuns would get very cross.



I asked my niece, who is training to be a primary school teacher what the standards are in the Western Australian school environment, and I was delighted to learn that handwriting is still very much part of the curriculum from pre-primary level.

I am sure this argument of keyboard verses pen will be taken up by wiser people than me, canvassing all aspects of the discussion, motor skills v. comprehension levels, etc.

There are still authors, such as Jeffrey Archer, who write their works in longhand.  Is it old fashioned to expect others to type the manuscript?  I have read that by putting “pen to paper” the words which issue from the writer are more carefully chosen;  and the argument against this view is that editing can always be undertaken later.

I personally have changed my writing style over the years, and a friend of mine regularly suggests that while my handwriting is nice to see on a page it is virtually illegible to anyone but me!  I must say, that after a fall a couple of years ago when I dislocated two of the fingers on my right hand, my handwriting has taken a battering.

I enjoy using beautiful writing implements.   I have a lovely Montegrappa pen which I found among my late father’s bits and pieces; a gift from his time as Naval Attache in Washington DC in the ‘70’s.  It writes beautifully, although it is a ball point.  I also have his gold Cross pen, which he insisted could only be used with black ink – informing me one day, in no uncertain terms, that “blue ink is for children” …!

Since the accident with my right hand, I have found that using an old fashioned fountain pen assists with my writing ability.  And I use a lovely sepia coloured ink.

I enjoy writing, and receiving, handwritten notes, be they for thank yous or birthdays.  And many of my Gen Y clients enjoy the "challenge" which the old fashioned method of communication offers them.

Computers over lovely writing implements…old and new?…a clear choice for me.



2 comments:

  1. I used to be able to (hand)write very long letters. Sometimes up to 5 or 6 pages. However, since the keyboard has taken over my life, I have lost this ability. Taking short notes or writing an address are about the only things I can still handle without getting a cramp in my fingers and wrist. What a shame, as, like you, I find that handwritten letters are so much more personal and 'warmer'. But how would we write our blog posts without our keyboards, then? :) Martine

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  2. How true Martine! Yes, we need our computers and I do so enjoy reading my favourite, type written blogs. But I will keep writing the cards and small letters with my fountain pen, because I still can, fortunately!

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