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11. Conditions Frequently Met. When pupils enter the fourth grade, all habits are in a formative stage. However careful their previous training in penmanship may have been, correct habits of position and movement are not firmly fixed. After the long summer vacation the children will be out of practice, and some of them, at least, will be unable to recall readily the details which they learned in the previous grade. The writing of many of these children will be characterized by wavy lines and poorly formed letters. Some, especially among the girls, will have acquired the finger movement, and their written characters will be so small as .to be scarcely legible.
These conditions are due chiefly to four causes—a faulty position at the desk, the child's inability to control his muscular movements, lack of knowledge of the forms of letters, and spending time and energy during the writing period in copying forms instead of in drills designed to fix correct writing habits. Before good results in penmanship can be secured, these difficulties must be overcome. It is, therefore, well for the teachers of intermediate grades to begin the year's work in penmanship with those exercises which are essential to success in this branch.
12. The Teacher's Viewpoint. Many teachers fail to secure satisfactory results in penmanship because they do not study the problem carefully or plan their work systematically. Penmanship is placed in the course of study that children may be taught to write legibly, easily, and with a fair degree of rapidity. The writing lessons are a means to this end, and the teacher should look upon the work in this branch from the viewpoint of its purpose. Writing, when considered from the point of view of its function in a course of study, is vastly more than the copying of forms. Writing is reproducing with pen or pencil the forms of letters which the writer holds in mind, and the combining of these letters to form the words required to express his thought. Every lesson in penmanship has its psychological as well as its physical or muscular phase. "All principles of pedagogy apply to penmanship."
13. The Teacher's Preparation. Too many teachers overlook the psychological phase, or mind side of the subject, when preparing their writing lesson. Unless this phase of the work is most carefully considered, it is impossible to secure the desired results. "The three essentials in teaching writing are form, freedom and interest."1 Of these, form and interest belong to the mind side of the subject.
(a) Form. Before the architect can draw the plans for a building, he must have a clearly defined picture of the structure in his mind. Just as truly must the pupil have in mind definite images of the letters before he can write them. Form, then, is in the mind, and the acquisition of form is a mental process. So long as the child is dependent upon the copybook or the blackboard for the forms of the letters, he cannot express himself in writing. The child acquires the forms of letters by observation, by studying them in books, and by seeing them made on the blackboard by the teacher. He fixes these forms in mind by making them himself. Therefore, the teaching of form is one of the first essentials in teaching penmanship. The steps are (i) observation, (2) formation of mental images, (3) reproduction of the forms learned.
(b) Freedom. By freedom is meant the ease and skill which characterize one's writing. The acquisition of freedom constitutes by far the greater part of the work of learning to write, and a large portion of this lesson is devoted to exercises which will enable the teacher to assist her pupils in securing this much desired end.
(c) Interest. Interest is the appeal which the subject makes to a child. In nearly all cases the interest which the pupils take in their penmanship depends upon the skill with which the teacher plans the lesson and the zeal and enthussiasm with which she conducts the exercises. The teacher who plans her lessons wisely, and is enthusiastic, will have little or no difficulty in securing and retaining the interest in the writing lessons. All the principles and laws of interest
» B. D. Berry: The Penmanship Trinity.
which apply to other branches apply here with equal force.
(d) Applications. From the foregoing discussion it is clearly seen that the teacher should prepare her lessons in penmanship with as much care as she does those in other branches, and that the lessons should be systematically arranged and properly graded. The teacher should have a definite plan, and should proceed by the most logical steps to reach the end in view.
14. The Elements of Form. In learning to write, the child has to observe, memorize and make sixty-one characters—twenty-six small letters, twenty-six capital letters and nine figures. Were each of these characters formed on an entirely different plan from the others, the task, though somewhat formidable, would not be beyond accomplishment with a reasonable degree of effort. The problem, however, which confronts the child and the teacher is much more simple. These sixty-one characters are all formed from two simple elements—the straight line and the oval, by combining them in different ways. It naturally follows that children who acquire the power to make these elements with ease, skill and rapidity, become free, easy and legible writers. In all drill exercises the teacher should hold this idea in mind. The exercises given in the following pages are for the purpose of showing how the elements are modified and combined to form the different characters and how by their use the pupil may acquire skill in writing.
16. Position. Good position at the desk is essential to free and easy movement. Unfortunately, some school desks are so narrow that the preferred position cannot be taken. The front position is the most desirable, and whenever practical this should be assumed in all writing exercises. The pupil should sit erect, facing the desk, with both feet squarely on the floor. The body should be approximately erect, but may bend forward slightly, provided the bending is at the waist. Keep the spine straight. The pupil should not lean against the desk, nor against the back of the seat. Fig. i shows the position of the arms and paper. A is the right arm, B the left arm, P the paper, and D the desk. It will
be noticed that the angle which the paper forms with the front of the desk is about one-third of a right angle; in other words, if the line which represents the lower edge of the paper were extended to the right edge of the desk, it would
~~7* "V-1 touch a point one-third the
\ / distance from the lower to
FIG- x the upper corner.
The desk should be of such a height that when the writer sits erect, and lets his arm drop naturally at the side, the top of the desk will be a little higher than, the elbow. For the adult, the writing should be from twelve to fourteen inches from the eye. When writing, both arms should be upon the desk, the right hand guiding the pen and the left holding the paper in position.
When school desks are too small to admit of the front position, the pupils may be permitted to assume a side position, in which the body is turned to the right, so that a line running from the right to the left side will form an angle of about 45° with the front of the desk.
16. Holding the Pen. The pen or pencil should be held loosely between the thumb and the first and second fingers, the thumb coming beside the first joint of the forefinger. The pen should point to the shoulder, as shown in Fig. 2. The ends of the last two fingers are the only part of the hand which should touch the paper, and these finger-tips should glide lightly over the page. The first and second fingers should be nearly straight.
The forearm should rest upon the large cushion of muscle between the elbow and the wrist, and the hand should be in such a position that the under side of the wrist is nearly parallel with the surface of the desk, afe shown in Fig. 3.
Caution. "Eternal vigilance" is the price of good results in writing. The necessity of insisting upon correct position and proper holding of the pen in every written exercise cannot be too strongly emphasized. Unless the pupils follow the directions given in Sections 15 and 16 until these positions become habitual, they will never make free and easy writers. FIG- 3
17. Movement. Three movements are recognized in writing. These are the muscular, the arm or whole arm, and the finger movements. While all are used to a greater or less extent, the muscular movement is the only one which should be used for general writing. The finger movement is sometimes combined with this for forming the long stem and loop letters, but such a combination should not be freely resorted to. The arm movement is useful when very large writing is desired, but it is seldom called into use.
In the muscular movement, all forms except the long loops and stems, for which the fingers may be used, are made by the hand and arm, the fingers remaining in a fixed relative position. This movement is the one in general use by accountants, clerks and others who are engaged in constant writing with a pen. It is also the movement taught in business colleges and advocated by most systems of writing introduced into the public schools. It secures the best results with the least effort, and can be practiced longer than either of the other movements without fatigue. The