Most of my contemporaries are familiar with the art of handwriting, not to be confused with printing. Some of you can produce excellent examples of penmanship while others…..well, you know who you are. I have admittedly been quite proud of my penmanship over the years but I spent hours upon hours perfecting it so many, many years ago.
Remembering it almost as if it was yesterday, it was my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Jones whom I shall extend all the credit for my handwriting and penmanship credentials. She was also the elementary school’s art teacher so I can easily surmise that one easily influenced the other from her standpoint. And she demanded perfection from her students.
Realizing in those days there was only playing outside and radio for entertainment, I would spend hours just sitting and writing. I can’t say why, but I just loved the art of writing. Now I am not speaking of sitting and making up stories and the like. I mean I just loved sitting and working on my penmanship. I can’t tell you how many times during my school years I would finish my homework and then sit and re-write it all just because I wanted it to look prettier.
My writing generally exhibited the classic slant to the right but there were times when I would decide I’d like a slant to the left better and would change my style. There were other times when I would see another classmate’s writing and be so impressed that I would go home and practice for hours trying to mock the style.
Sadly enough, what propagated the writing of this post on this particular subject was that I have, over the past few weeks, run across several posts from people, even teachers, questioning the need for schools to dwell on teaching writing skills any longer. Since everything is almost 100% keypad initiated these days, they and others are beginning to not see the need to pursue the classroom time and drills associated with handwriting.
Well, I guess I was a bit shocked. For a while I could not believe someone would suggest such a thing, especially an educator. After pondering the issue for a measure of time, however, it slowly began to sink in that we really don’t write like we used to in times past. Of course, some of us who are older and never became acclimated with computers and the associated technology still write as they always did. But eventually those of us who do still partake of the skill will be but a mist on a distant shore.
I hardly ever pick up a pen or pencil and write anymore. The weekly grocery list, an occasional check, or to sign my name here or there and that’s pretty much it! And my writing is not quite as artful as what it used to be some ten or twenty years ago which I guess relates to the old adage, “Use it or lose it!” But I wouldn’t trade the art of writing for anything.
In one sense, I find it very hard to defend my position with regard to maintaining our educational tools in the teaching of writing and penmanship. But on the other hand I cannot imagine a civilization or culture that can only communicate digitally. Are we going to revert back to the days when people signed something by putting their “mark” on the paper?