This week I received a letter from my 99-year-old Aunt, in reply to the handwritten note I sent her recently. Her closing comment made me laugh out loud.
“Yes Joan your writing isn’t so neat you better visit me again so I can teach you.” (No chance of that with Queensland still locked off to we diseased southerners).
Anyway, that set me thinking about learning to write so I dug into the boxes where I knew my old school books were to be found. Among these ancient treasures I found my Grade 4 copy book.
I was 8 years old and those were the days when pen and ink were still used. Being left-handed, I was not good at writing. Left-handed writing smudges the not-yet-dry ink, and it is also difficult to get the right leaning slope. The only choice a left hander has is to use a hooked wrist so as to come at the script from above, or to twist the book so it is near vertical to the desk (I chose the latter because my Mum would not have me looking awkward when I wrote, though I am sure writing that way also looked somewhat awkward).
My copy book has all sorts of admonitions – “This is a little scratchy”; “Don’t lift your pen!!”; “Don’t write with the back of your pen!”; “Look above”; “Are you holding your pen correctly?”; “This is very careless work” and words written in red showing I have the slope wrong.
When we got to Grade 6 we could transition to biro or fountain pen. And the copy book gave way to the dreaded weekly “Exercise” where we were set a writing task which had to be embellished with Old English Lettering and have an illustrated facing page.
My artwork turned out to be worse than my writing but Mum came to the rescue. She found an old colouring book with pictures of flowers and taught me how to draw a grid so I could copy the image to the perfect size for the page. I then outlined it with Indian ink and coloured it in. I remember consulting her each week as to what colour would be right for the flower since many of them were cold climate varieties not seen in tropical Queensland.
|I chose this particular spread in honour of Remembrance Day this week.|
I used a fountain pen and throughout this exercise book my writing is not too bad – lots of merit stamps. The main complaint is, “Your writing it too big”; “Writing is still too large”
I wonder – do they care much about the quality of a child’s handwriting anymore? Mine has deteriorated drastically with 40 years of writing via keyboard.