It is the emergent deficiency of father-hood in the twenty-first century. In all the ways I try to be a role-model for my daughter the one very obvious and nearly-inexcusable way I fall short, veer off course, and utterly fail to meet the grade is in handwriting. My printing is atrocious.
I could blame many different influences for such a deficiency: the proliferation of smartphones and texting, the advent, rise, and domination of email, the requirement of speedy recording of meeting notes versus the lack of necessity for strong penmanship, or even the waning need for paper and ink in this modern society of ours. But alas, the fault is really my own.
Opinion is sure to vary widely on the topic: do we even need to learn to record letters and numbers on paper with pens and pencils any more? Why aren’t kindergarteners introduced to keyboards instead of pencils, as surely they are much more likely to use the former in their technology-connected lives than the latter?
Writing, it sometimes seems, truly has become — or is at the very least well on its way to becoming — an anachronistic art form.
Claire has been bringing home printing assignments each night lately. We practice printing by writing out “found” words, each day the next letter from the alphabet. I assist by penning out the word first on a small whiteboard in black felt pen and she imitates. Each word I print, however, I find myself wiping clean and re-writing two… three… or sometimes even more times. As I said, my printing is atrocious and I’m hardly a role-model.
The effort, however, has made me slightly more cognisant of this deficiency and as a result I’ve thought it might be an interesting exercise to explore the notion of re-learning my own penmanship skills. Yes, in my mid-thirties, it might finally be time to learn to print legibly.
I see it as a threefold course:
1) Figure Out the Right Way
As should be fairly simple with a five-and-a-half year old daughter bringing home printing assignments and word-shape charts on a regular basis. A study in fonts and styles and form and typography might not hurt, either.
2) Practice, Practice, and More Practice
This is the easy part. Or, at least the notion of it is easy. Re-copying pages of books or finding swaths of text to print out onto paper should be easy. Finding the time, on the other hand…
3) Kill All Those Old Habits
Forcing myself to break down the scrawl: printing neatly and clearly will be an effort in everyday life and work. Speed is going to be a factor. As will the appearance of attending meetings and patiently printing my notes into my notebook.
But the result? It will be good, right? And it will be worth it. Or, at least I’ll have an old fashioned kinda skill to fall back on if this computer-stuff doesn’t work out.
Updates are sure to follow…