Category Archives: “The Common Core Subjects”

Dropping Penmanship

Standard

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Somehow, this makes me sad

that I didn’t write this in September, back to school time. But I did

know that penmanship was dropped out of the “Common Core.”

State standards, or school curriculum requirements, no longer require

students to be taught handwriting, cursive or what we called

“penmanship.” I liked to write in my nice blocked off letters in my early

primary school years. Making sure the circles that were made for the “d”

and the “b” didn’t “roll off the page!

I remember watching teachers letters forming on the board while

trying to copy their letters to the “T!” I was a little mimic, Mom said I

imitated the teacher’s moves in ballet class with some humorous

flourishes. I tended to want to add flourishes to my cursive once we

learned how to do that form of writing. I liked my “writing handbooks”

and our journals that we would write our thoughts or follow an

assignment. As a sixth grade Language Arts teacher, I liked taking those

precious journals filled with my students’ thoughts and reflections.

There was a lot of “angst” expressed in their writings. Somehow, if

they had been simply written on a computer and then, printed off, the

impact and power of their words, may not have been driven home.

Of course, schools have not immediately stopped these procedures. I

just can see the day happening, now that it is not “required.” There will

be no tests and no answering to anybody about this area of expertise!

Mom found a really nice article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about

a man who still makes lovely designed pens. HIs name is Brian Gray,

he has a “machine shop” where he makes custom pens. He is a “pen

maker.” There are still a wide variety of people who are interested

in purchasing the hand designed fountain pens with a variety of “nibs.”

There are still beautiful Pelikan pens that have a pelican engraved on

it. I think Cross pens are wonderful tools, this article mentioned by

Joe Crea, a reporter, that he considers them, “reliable tools for everyday

use and inexpensive enough” that he wouldn’t “flip out if they’re lost.”

Joe Crea mentions that he still has in his possession, a “vintage Schaeffer,”

a wedding gift to his parents in the late 1940’s. He has a Mont-blanc

Meisterstuck Classique, a gift from his wife on his 40th birthday.

As writers, how many of you jot your thoughts on note cards or paper

in a notebook, before proceeding to the computer to write your posts

as you blog? I still write notes, since I carry them in my purse, they are

on small slips of paper, either stapled together if I am at home, or

clipped together with a bobby pin or paper clip. I go to the library, spill

the words onto the computer, trying to “beat the clock” before the

next person needs to use the computer. I feel blessed that so far, my

“well has not dried.” (Reference to the days when I would use an ink

well. I no longer use in my pen and ink drawings that form of artistic

usage of ink. I used thin point or extra fine point “Sharpies.” They still

resist the watercolors I apply in some of my drawings and children’s

name drawings.

I do like Joe Crea’s line thtaz summed up the downfall of pen and ink

usage,

“Sure, there were issues that drove many users to abandon their

fountain pens: leaking, smudging, staining. Scratchy nibs. Uneven,

stop-start ink flow. The agony of losing a pricey pen.”

How often in your life have you treasured a special pen? Has one come

to you in a gift box, laid on a bed of black felt, maybe in a set? It was

common in my “old days” to receive them, once you graduated from a

level of school, if you had a boss who wanted to reward you or as a special

occasion gift.

The sadness for me is that I can see the days when we won’t appreciate

those scrolling letters. Nor the artistic and creative ways that people write.

There would not need to be writing analysis books and experts who could

tell your personality, simply through the way you wrote.

History of the words “the pen is mightier than the sword:”

George Whetstone (1582)

Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” (1602)

Robert Burton (1621)

Thomas Jefferson 1796) to Thomas Paine, “Go on doing with your pen

what in other times was done with the sword.”

The person attributed to “coining the actual phrase” was Edward Bulwer-

Lytton, (1839), in his play, “Richelieu, Or the Conspiracy.”

His words in the play were:

“True, This!-

Beneath the rules of men entirely great

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Behold the arch-enchanters wand! Itself a nothing.

But taking the master-hand

To paralyse the Caesars and to strike

the loud earth breathless-

Take away the sword- states can be saved.”