Saturday, March 19, 2011

Throw all forms of civilized communication out. Morse code is out and so is stenography why not cursive writing as well? There was a time that penmanship was as important as speech itself. School children used to study the three “R’s”. Reading ,Riting and Rithmetic. Nope, now most schools are throwing out the Riting part. They got computers; all they need these days is to scribble their name on a check someday maybe.
Riting meant good clear writing; penmanship. It was just as important as clear compressive speech. If you had good penmanship, you were probably smart too. Most speech has been denigrated to smaller words and penmanship can be considered a lost art. The old song, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter” is out too. No one writes letters anymore. We text in under 160 alphabet letters. Not very memorable and deleted in a moment.
How is your writing? Chances are that it is not very good. If your 4th grader is in fact still learning how to write connecting letters, that is the best it will ever get. As the years go by, our writing gets sloppier. Yes, we peak at about 4th grade. It’s not that we’re not writing. Every day we send billions of text messages and e-mails. For adults, hand-writing has been reduced to shopping lists and credit card signatures. For well over 100 years our handwriting skills have declined.
In the Pilgrim days, only some could write. Few could read and write. In the 17 and 18 hundreds, if your handwriting was good enough, you could actually make it a career. Our most famous script writing is the founding fathers documents like the Constitution and the logo on Coke bottles. The arrival of the typewriter in the late 1800’s changed everything. A man named Palmer said speed write. So, the effort was to type as fast as possible and boast how many words you can type per minute or use stenography where lines and curvy handwritten symbols meant entire words. It was a code among secretaries as was a great skill, the series of taps over phone lines that was a secret language called Morse code. The Navy uses computers now.
Graphology was an occupation. Handwriting analysis was used to define one’s character or personality or even intelligence level. Abraham Lincoln never printed. Pen and pencil still remains the simplest, easiest most inexpensive and most portable means to write. However, the most effective is to immediately start writing on a keyboard and that is how most children learn to communicate these days. Penmanship counts when trying to study and remember things.
A kid with good handwriting could get better grades. When former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote a handwritten note to the mother of a fallen soldier in 2009, it became a source of embarrassment for him. His sloppy hand and misspelled words got her so angry she revealed it to the press causing a penmanship scandal. Headlines on British newspapers called him, “Bloody Shameful!”
Although 80% of us can use penmanship, only 18% regard our skill as excellent. Margaret Shephard wrote two books on “The Art of the Handwritten Note” and is a professional Calligraphier. She has noted that our most important historical documents are handwritten and our most heartfelt letters are handwritten and our children are not practicing it anymore. What will they do when the power on all our communicating devices ceases.

1 comment:

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