Good penmanship was never really my thing. In elementary school I got good grades, but my handwriting pretty much always “needed improvement”.
By the time I got to 4th grade and started learning cursive, I was a lost cause. It was bad. And I was fully aware it was bad. I sort of embraced that sometimes I was the only one who could read my writing. I guess I figured good handwriting was something beyond my control–a trait one possesses rather than a skill that’s developed.
When I reached junior high and cursive was no longer compulsory, I joyfully dropped it. In its place flowed a strange, monster hybrid of print and cursive. Once in 8th grade a teacher lamented my handwriting, so for one paper I painstakingly drew my thoughts out in lovely (for me) cursive. She pronounced it glorious. I decided it took way too long.
By high school pretty much everything was expected to be typed up on Word. Penmanship became an art form rather than a mode of communication. I dappled in doodles, but was mostly unsuccessful. Most of my doodles contained poignant Avril Lavigne lyrics and a lack of spacial planning. A friend once commented that my writing looked like a 2nd grader’s.
Times New Roman size 12 and my mutant scribble covered all my bases all the way through college.
Then I got married. If I were to change my signature, that was my opportunity. So one day in my unemployed, post-grad, post-wedding era I sat down and tried out some new signatures with my new name. They were no good. Bad, even. I didn’t end up changing anything about my signature except my last name.
And then last year I taught preschool. One day my boss got her hands on some blank worksheets I’d already written students’ names on. She corrected my handwriting on each paper. She made my V’s more angular. She made my e’s uniform. She pointed out to me the changes she’d made, handed me a printing guide, and gently requested that I study and practice it.
Miraculously, my handwriting changed throughout the school year. I got good at writing nicely and quickly. Simultaneously! I didn’t know it was possible.
My handwriting is far from perfect (especially when I’m teaching violin and leave myself about one minute to write a billion notes on my student’s practice guide), but I wouldn’t say it’s all that bad anymore. And that is the ironic tale of how I learned good penmanship in a near-paperless era.