Thursday, January 31, 2013

“Swing for the L”

Reading Kitty Burns Florey’s Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting (Hoboken: Melville House, 2009), I realized that the perfect L in my dad’s signature is straight outta Palmer:

[From A. N. Palmer, The Palmer Method for Business Writing (Cedar Rapids: A. N. Palmer, 1915). Found at the Internet Archive.]

Handwriting is in the news again this morning, as I discovered only after deciding to make this post.

comments: 1

Elaine said...

Well, that's interesting. I noticed no one addressed the fine-motor-skills aspect of writing, and why that might have value.
Two related tales:
1) When I first began writing seriously, I wrote in longhand and basically used the computer as a glorified typewriter, transcribing each day's output. (This was in the days of Volkswriter and later WordPerfect1.0) Eventually I was just sitting down in front of the computer and lettin' 'er rip, but I noticed that I had to do a lot more editing in the latter case. Writing in longhand gave me time to do a better job of composing.

2) Our son had a diagnosis of dyspraxia--difficulties with motor patterns and sequencing. Whereas most children can watch someone do a jumping jack and imitate the motions, Nat had to have step-wise instruction. Instead of forming letters systematically, he was basically drawing each letter; as the demand for speed and fluency increased, his printing and spacing deteriorated. Many hours of OT... We spent one summer learning cursive via 'The Benbow Method' while at the same time I devised a series of keyboarding lessons--there weren't any for kids at that time--in order to free him as soon as possible from the more taxing fine motor task. Decades later, he prefers to print as needed (horrid chicken scratch that his own father can't read.)

I'd like to see cursive taught alongside quaint-but-useful things like phonics and orthography.