A friend of mine wondered if these posts are excerpts from my book, “Baby Boomer Reflections: Eighteen Special Years Between 1946 And 1964.” They aren’t. The book is scheduled for release in May 2015. It is an actual story. These posts are fun memories I believe we need to share.
I had actually forgotten the formal name until a former classmate mentioned it in a comment she posted on Facebook. For those of you who didn’t have the privilege of taking penmanship as a class in your elementary school, it has absolutely nothing to do with men or ships.
Penmanship is the technique of writing with the hand using a writing instrument. Unfortunately, it is becoming a lost practice, with many elementary schools across the United States dropping cursive (a penmanship term) instruction altogether, in deference to increased progress testing, State Standards and the impact of computers in the classroom.
I’m not sure when we baby boomers started practicing penmanship in school except that it was definitely in one of the elementary grades. We were graded on it. We also were graded on deportment or conduct (apparently, that’s disappearing as well).
Remember the penmanship drills we did before we started practicing the actual letters? Students would practice slanted vertical lines or consecutive circles from one side of the paper to the other. While the students practiced these drills, the teachers would meander around the classroom, some carrying a ruler, that they used to touch students’ fingers to indicate they were doing something incorrectly. Many times, that touch resulted in something like a smack.
When you demonstrated really good penmanship with your pencil, you might have had the opportunity to use an actual fountain pen and ink to demonstrate your prowess. Dip the pen into the inkwell and don’t get it on your fingers or clothes.
Unfortunately, texting, emails and other genius inventions, like voice-to-text software, are making actual handwriting disappear faster than you can type LOL. I hope evolution doesn’t eventual replace five fingers with a giant thumb. I also hope that tomorrow’s students don’t have to go to a museum to see a number two pencil sitting right next to a quill pen.