Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dear Mr. Palmer,


In his usual unvarnished way of saying the truth, Evan tells me my handwriting, "Sucks!" I thought, "Humph! Nice. Considering you want mail so much, I wouldn't think it would matter that much!!!" HUMPH, say I!

But, with a moment of consideration, I have to admit- he's correct. Lately, it does suck. It's a by-product of an age when typing every correspondence and idea is d'rigeur. I really don't write much anymore. My handwriting has suffered for it. Apparently, that's the case for most.

I read a newspaper article recently that said that many teachers don't have time to teach cursive writing. That's because the average curriculum is so eavily weighted with standardized test taking preparation. In today's classrooms, we don't worry if we're teaching our kids anything...we just need them to successfully pass tests. Tests that don't measure knowledge and learning, but instead determine whether a teacher keeps a job. Real nice. It's maddening! Why don't we simply do our best at what we're charged to do? The measure of that success and effort will be evident, then.

No. That's too simple. Now we have trumped-up, false measures of a faculty. It's become a game. And while we're growing a whole generation of students who undoubtedly will know how to take a test after being drilled hours daily on the likely questions...they'll also be a generation that doesn't know how to reason, think, or have real knowledge. Why? Because they aren't being taught anything; they're being used as litmus tests for some arbitrary system.

If teachers need to be better, get better candidates. Or, how about this radical notion...give them the tools and resources they need to be successful! If we have teachers who have been worn out and sucked dry by a broken system, let's ask them to move on. Fix the system and hire those who are willing to continue to invest the effort! It can't be only about money as a fix; teachers will never be paid enough for what they do. Like most avocations and callings, there is way too much personal and emotional investment demanded. No good teacher could ever be truly compensated for what they do. Just as no craftsmen or artist is ever truly rewarded monetarily for the works of art they create.

For goodness sake! It's not about taking tests! It's about teaching!!! And, not everyone who supposedly 'teaches' should ever call themselves a Teacher. Time for us to identify and employ true Teachers. But, I'm getting off point...

It's sad that one more individualizing piece of life is slipping away. Handwriting is as individual as a finger print, a voice, a smile. Your signature is a unique facet of you. Imagine a world where a person can't even sign their name to a document? Ridiculous, you say? Me, too. But, handwriting could be going the way of the dinosaurs.

As well as I write, and by that I mean convey a thought for you to read, when you look at what I've written here, it's absolutely no different from the zillions of other black bits of type you'll take in today. True, if you know me you can, 'hear' me talking in my writing which provides an individual slant. But as you view it...it's absolutely the same as everything else you'll see.

However, if you open your mailbox and there's a card in it from me...you'll recognize that right away by my flourishes and style of writing. They distinguish me from all the other people you know. My handwriting becomes as familiar to you as the sound of my voice. And, isn't that part of the pleasure of reading a handwritten note? You know it's from a particular individual who took time to send something of themselves.

I remember the countless hours, practicing with those fat pencils; making those loops, loops, loops. And, those bold up and down, down and up, strokes on paper with three lines each. The Palmer Method alphabet scrolling across the top of the black boards for constant review.

Not every student excelled at handwriting that would make a Victorian proud...but all of us learned to write cursive and developed our individual signature... a singular style. Like most girls, I did pretty well learning Mr. Palmer's method. Over time, what with my artistic nature, my handwriting developed into an interesting 'hand,' as it's called. I've even been paid to address envelopes for special occasions.

And, just the other day, my Boy-chic says my handwriting 'sucks' because I no longer spend time using it enough to garantee it stays true and readable. As I get older, my hands don't have quite the same tone and control as when young and flexible. But, no more excuses. Time to get back to practicing my handwriting.

So, I went to a teacher's supply store and bought a cursive writing work-book. It even has stickers so I can be rewarded when I make really fine letters! I'll be practicing my Palmer method daily, even if it's only to write my alphabet a couple of times. I don't want anything about me, not one single thing, to slip away from lack of use or attention. I promise to do better, Mr. Palmer!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly

3 comments:

LionKing said...

Would if it were so...the wonderful thought of being able to "move along" those tired, worn-out, ineffective or just plain incompetent persons-employed-in-a- teaching-capacity, but who certainly are not and probably never should have been even thought of as a true "Teacher." Let's not forget, when considering how nice that might be, the profound and inordinate impact of unions. No Child Left Behind is far from a complete, effective or desirable plan. But the political and economic influence of unions on the education process is the flip side of that coin. I still believe education is yet another major endeavor best left to the states and local control. Accountability and merit must both be considered - and measured!

Eileen said...

Yes, cursive handwriting is the one area where I have first felt my "aging" ... I can walk several miles no problem, I can still run up a flight of stairs, but controlling the pen and making those strokes and curves just doesn't come so "naturally" anymore ... I miss that because I always liked my handwriting. Oh well, I'm trying to accept that change under the banner of aging gracefully. We can always hire a scribe!

Donna said...

Funny that you talk about handwriting, I'm trying to teach my granddaughter how to spell and write her name...ok, so she's not yet 2 but her Uncle Scott bought her a chalk board for Christmas. We write CARLEY, POP POP, NANA, DADDY and RUSTY on it every Thursday night and all day Sunday when we play. I give her the chalk and I can tell she's trying. So, perhaps the teachers aren't doing their jobs, this Nana is doing hers.

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