January 23rd is National Handwriting Day (picked because it's John Hancock's birthday!), a subject we pencil ladies feel incredibly strongly about. I'm introducing a new series, Pencil Prompts, in which I share inspiration for getting up and using our favorite object, the humble pencil. Obviously pencils and handwriting go hand in hand (or rather pencil in hand!), so I thought this was a great place to start.
In today's technical age it is indeed true that handwriting is becoming less prominent, but we believe it's certainly no less important now than it was before the dawn of computers. Also, we stand in the unique position of seeing a sort of resurgence of the arts of letter writing, fine writing utensils, and other things related to the analog lifestyle. It's as if people crave the tactile feeling that is missing from their digital life.
It's heavily debated these days whether kids should learn cursive or not, which I tend to think is a damn shame even though my own cursive is weak at best. Here's some great reads on the hot topic.
New York Times: The Story of How Handwriting Evolved, and May Soon Die Off (woah there, NYT die off? I hope that's just being dramatic)
Freakonomics: Who Needs Handwriting? (this one has a great discussion by experts on the merit of handwriting, including a familiar pencil lady)
Chicago Tribune: If you want your kids to sign their names, you'll have to teach them (In which an excellent point is raised: will future generations be able to read historic documents if they can't read cursive?)
Personally, I find my opinions don't weigh so heavily on whether or not we should teach cursive, but rather on a broader foundation: I believe handwriting should be used and encouraged more overall. My own handwriting is cramped and a little messy, but it's my own, my personal mark on the world. It doesn't matter so much to me if it's pretty, rather I appreciate it because it's a tactile effort that reflects the individuality of a human being, like a fingerprint.
Some experts believe your own handwriting can reveal much about your personality as well:
Real Simple: What Does Your Handwriting Say About You? (mine says I'm skeptical! Which is how I feel about handwriting analysis! Self-predicting!)
And handwriting can even influence voters:
Huffington Post: For The Last-Minute Undecided Voter: Handwriting Analysis Of Donald And Hillary
Speaking of politics, did you know that James Garfield could write in Latin with one hand, and Greek with the other at the same time? While I'm guessing many of us don't quite have the motor skills (or knowledge of Greek AND Latin) to master that party trick, there's still room for improvement in handwriting, should you wish to craft some seriously artful cursive.
This might be my favorite bit of reading on the subject: Hill's Manual of Social Business Forms from 1888. In this incredibly thorough tome, you'll learn how to correctly hold a writing instrument, write in cursive with and without flourishes, how to teach penmanship, complete with a 12-lesson plan, how to properly draft a letter, and generally how to conduct yourself as a polite 1880's gentleman. Seriously, it's worth a browse for the guide to a proper handshake alone.
In that same vein, another great resource for classic cursive is the Spencerian Penmanship book. First published in 1874, this little guy is available on Amazon for $5.00 and covers directions on how to form each letter in Spencerian script. Check out this seriously gorgeous letter I received from a pen pal who taught herself off this workbook:
If you're not ready to polish up on your flourishes, the Getty-Dubay handwriting resources are a pretty great way to brush up your everyday penmanship. And of course, if you're perfectly satisfied with your handwriting, today is still a great day to take a break from the computer and lose yourself in a sheet of paper and a pencil.
In case you need one more little push to sharpen up and start writing, how's this for handwriting inspiration?
ABC News: Handless 7 Year Old Wins National Handwriting Competition
Here's the prompt of the month: What does handwriting mean to you? Write to us with your thoughts!
Favorite pencils for penmanship (precision, precision!):
Cedar Pointe #1
Nataraj Marble HB