The Handwriting on the Wall

PalmerIf you know what this is, you most likely grew up learning the Palmer Penmanship method of handwriting.

The sight of these drills may still haunt you.Red Palmer

I, for one, could never quite get my circles to look like the samples from the original text of A.N. Palmer’s 1915 publication.

The drills were designed for proper hand muscle development that would lead to something that looked like this:

Cursive sampleThe nuns from my elementary school never strayed from this approach. Ball point pens were forbidden. We had to use traditional fountain pens, with inkwells mounted into the wooden desk.

Our ink-stained, long- sleeved, white uniform blouses were a constant laundry challenge.

But we did learn cursive. And it stuck.

So much so that when I entered public school in the 9th grade, I had to trade in my fountain pens and learn to print.

The Palmer Method was abandoned sometime in mid- twentieth century.

It is under current discussion that cursive be dropped from all elementary school programs.

lazy dog

It seems that lazy dog had the right idea.

He saw that handwriting on the wall, and left it there, for a keyboard.

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This entry was posted in Childhood, Education, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Handwriting on the Wall

  1. George says:

    Oh man, how I remember the nuns and those fountain pens…:) it’s so funny you mention this because I did a post a while ago that talks about how cursive writing is quickly becoming a lost art and how it’s not even required in schools now past 3rd or 4th grade. Thanks for the memory.

  2. I was taught “joined up” handwriting in primary (elementary) school in Scotland but not a specific style of writing. It was more about learning fluidity of writing by learning how to connect letters. People often comment on how neat, legible and pleasing my handwriting is but also how unusual it is and I think that is because we were left to find our own style. I, therefore, agree that there’s no real merit in teaching children cursive these days. Especially with the curriculum as crammed as it is, drilling children in a particular approach to handwriting seems like an unsatisfactory use of educational contact time. However, I still think legible handwriting is important – even in the computer age – and that learning to write “joined up” is important to remove the strain on the muscles that printing for long periods creates. Alas, so far my kids are taking after their father with their scrappy handwriting rather than taking after me.

  3. I’ve never seen that writing exercise! I do fear that handwriting may become extinct and that is really too bad. Recently I’ve challenged myself to write notes and letters and put them in envelopes, affix a stamp and send them to people I know. I love receiving handwritten letters. ❤
    Diana xo

    Hey a positive thought, perhaps I will live long enough to be translation handwriting expert for those who want to learn about the old days! 😉

  4. Oh boy do I remember that. I am a leftie they made write right-handed. I tend to lean to the left and I make strange e’s. I wanted to be different and I certainly am. LOL! ❤

    • A Southpaw ? You always had it the worst. They would make you twist around in distorted positions just to achieve the correct slant. I always felt bad for lefties. ☺ Van

  5. That exercise looks grueling. Over the years I’ve come to write a hybrid of print and cursive. But rarely. The keyboard has taken over for all but journaling. I don’t know if it matters that much as long as people learn to express themselves.

    • I picked up a bit of calligraphy in later years…back to the ink pen ! Old habits die hard. I’m faster on the keyboard, but get a different kind of inspiration when writing longhand. You’re so right, Diana, about the goal of self-expression ! ☺

  6. LaVagabonde says:

    They didn’t have this method when I was in Catholic school in the 1970s. However, the prejudice against lefties was still strong. I endured much humiliation because of it, and the teacher wasn’t even a nun. I’d heard that they want to abandon cursive in schools. I think it’s a bad idea. I’ve read that there’s a connection between creativity/certain types of learning and writing by hand.

    • I’ve always believed that creativity connection. When I travel, I use a marble notebook. I can’t describe why, it’s just different pen to paper. So sorry for the lefties..you had it the worst ! ☺

  7. Handwritten letters have a way of sending emotion….great if it is love…not so much if it’s hate. In our state, they just now added cursive writing back into the curriculum.

  8. Angie Mc says:

    I learned the Palmer method but not with the ink well, how cool! Well, I likely say cool because I didn’t need to use it 😀 Making decisions about handwriting and how to teach my children, we chose to be practical. Personally, I love having pretty handwriting. I enjoy it creatively at times, combined with doodling. Yet, I knew how much time it took to gain such mastery and, well, my boys were *never* going to enjoy handwriting as an art form, lol, although my daughter is deep into fonts and graphic design. Back to being practical, we taught our children how to print and type, cursive was considered an option, which they all did choose to learn. It just made sense to put their time to more pressing pursuits, but every so often one of them will say, “I wish I had nice handwriting like you, Mom.”

    • So far, it is still taught here, but certainly not with the same emphasis. For me, I can go back into my writings and personal calendars and tell you about my mood/temperament as reflected in my writing at a given time. Curious and curiouser ??? Van ☺

      • Angie Mc says:

        That *is* curious! And now that I think of it, makes sense. When I’m rushed or anxious, surely my handwriting will reflect that. When I write my husband a love note, it really is more flowing, loving. While typing this, I’m noticing how all the font is the same, not giving my mood away…except for this 😀

      • And..times when I might have been medicated…so different; it was like I lost my true nature and the writing reflected the chemical intervention. Bygones….

      • Angie Mc says:

        Yes, the disconnect. So many ways to lose one’s true self in this life. It makes sense that we would reflect this loss physically, handwriting being an example.

      • For sure, Angie, thanks for the conversation. ☺

  9. lbeth1950 says:

    Oh, I learned the Palmer method, and got a grade. We use pencils till fourth grade ,then switched to ball-point. Printed 1st and 2nd grade, then learned “real writing” in third grade.

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