Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Written History

"Next, I want you to do a line of a's, and make sure you close the tops, I do not want them looking like u's." I instruct my son as he examines the cup full of pencils, seeking the one with the decent point. The homework for school is done, which becomes the perfect time to work on the core exercises, reading, math and hand writing. For the past few summers we have been hiring a tutor to work with my son on some of these core groups, just to keep his mind limber, and it seems to help him out. The tutor would come for an hour once a week and my wife and I do supplement with exercises at other times. Tonight we are working on writing in script. Looking at the workbook detailing the proper way to write each letter took me back a bit. I notice I write some of the letters incorrectly, in fact I do not write correctly in script at all. Did they change it from when I was a child? I always hear the phrase "new math", is there "new" script as well? I turn the workbook towards me and flip through the pages, each one covering a letter, first uppercase then lowercase, and think about my own flaws. In my head, I analyze my own mechanics and recall struggling with script as a child, attempting to follow those little arrows to form the letter correctly, and not really working at it skillfully. I used to attribute my poor handwriting to being left handed but its simply about practice. I never practiced my handwriting skills enough to make it automatic. Just like a basketball player practices standing on the free throw line, shooting free throw after free throw until the movement is so natural he does not need to think about it, it just flows. Writing should feel the same way, the positioning of the pencil to the paper, the lead dancing across the paper like an ice skate etching out the routine on the polished ice. Writing in script should flow like that, effortlessly and smooth, the exact opposite of my handwriting. 

I look at my son's repetitive a sequence and see improvements along the line. I make him do another line, suggesting slow and steady until the pencil reaches the end of the page. All a's look precise and clean, like the ball swishing through the net. Tomorrow we will work on a couple of more letters, but this time a pencil and paper will sit in front of both of us, each working to make it automatic. Swish...


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