"You'll never get anywhere with handwriting like that, now hold your pen properly."
My handwriting has never won awards for being the neatest but, as long as it's legible, it's never really bothered me that much. Many a school teacher pointed out to me how it would hinder my life and lead me down a dark path of Special Brew outside my local Spar shop. Fortunately for me, the Spar shop closed down and I ended up teaching.
My school really did try back then - they gave me a rubber pencil grip. It was great for chewing on whilst thinking and it made me discover weird and wonderful ways of holding a pencil ready to transfer over to the pen (that remarkable milestone in any child's life). They provided extra handwriting lessons and worksheets which showed me how to form letters with the use of several arrows - turning the simple task of writing into a Crystal Maze style challenge.
Cynicism over, it all failed. I hold my pen in a weird way, I form some letters differently to what's expected (still in an efficient way - more on that later) and I still enjoy taking pens apart like a budding engineer. But my handwriting's mine and I like it. And I don't think I've failed just yet.
We rely heavily on typing these days. I've not drafted this post by pen first. We write by hand less and less, and we skim read more and more. We now read books on a screen, type on a whiteboard, start our cars without a key, video-call people, have thousands of albums on a hand-held device and we watch stuff in 3D. The world's changing rapidly. And I really, really love it.
I encourage children in my class to be careful and proud hand-writers. I don't want them experiencing the demoralisation that I suffered or the turn-off from writing. But what I refuse to do is pick at their style or formation (when I talk of formation, I refer to forming a letter in a slightly different yet still efficient way). We live in a world with hundreds of different writing systems that have developed over thousands of years and children witness thousands of different typing fonts throughout their early-life. Someone out there must have been prepared to 'break the rules'.
A plethora of logo-guessing games hit Apple's App Store last year with many of them providing different words in a company's font for the player to guess the correct company from the font. Does that make sense? Fonts are now a unique identity because people moved away from standardisation.
I've made my point. Handwriting is extremely important and a much needed life skill. But, in a 21st Century classroom, we need to be prepared to break away from 'the norm' and encourage a little freedom, right?
What's your stance on handwriting? Will it still be taught 10 years down the line? Do you enforce strict rules and regulations? Or have those days now gone with demanding targets, levels and expectations?