Following a fiction piece I did for Charli over at Carrot Ranch with the prompt ‘blot’ my piece mentioned a copybook. I was surprised by the number of people who had not heard of a copy book. I asked my Silent Generation husband whether he’d used a copybook but although he had heard of them, he too didn’t know what they were nor had he used one. Perhaps Australia was the only country to retain such a thing into the 1970’s at least.
A comment from Charli suggested that it would be interested to hear how we learnt to write, where we learnt to write and whether this was different between generations and locations. Some writing can be an art form whilst others are illegible. Is it in how we learnt our writing skills?
Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking. Looking forward to your memories.
Baby Boomer: small rural town Australia
I do not recall knowing how to write when I started school and lessons in writing only commenced in the first grade. Kindergarten was exempt from formal activities but we probably started to learn the alphabet and we certainly played shop, learning to count.
Our first writing lessons were done with a pencil. We had to have a HB pencil and we printed our letters. Writing seemed synonymous with increasing our word bank. It wasn’t until we were in grade 4 that running writing lessons began. The form used was modern cursive. This was different to the copperplate that had gone before it but it was no easier to get perfect. It had to have a particular slope and the early books also had lines marking the correct angle. Writing became a subject on its own like social studies. For an hour at a time we would work at perfecting our script. We were given copy books and had to painstakingly copy the sentence on the top of the page over and over. Knuckles were rapped for untidiness and incorrect holding of the pen. Ink blots were a no no.
This was where I fell down. I was blessed I wasn’t a left hander (they were forced to write with their right hand and got into dreadful trouble for both messyness and disobedience) but my technique was seen to be just as heinous. I was right handed but I gripped the pen with two fingers on the shaft and my thumb wrapped around them both. The first joint of my hand went backwards so it lay along the pen shaft and the joint behind raised like a mountain. My teacher pleaded, yelled, slapped, put me outside the room but to this day my pen holding style remains unchanged. My writing was a little more legible then that it is now.
We were right on the cusp of ink and quill and the coming of the BIC biro. I was relieved when we changed to biro in my sixth class as the ink got everywhere but for many years one of my prize possessions was a Parker fountain pen.
And that was how I learnt to write. What do you remember about your writing experience or your childrens? Perhaps they learnt earlier or perhaps typing on a computer is replacing writing. I’m looking forward to reading your memories…….
For those interested in memoir I am doing a series on the second Friday of the month some musings about memoir, about writing one, things to consider when writing a memoir over at Carrot Ranch. I’d love you to join the conversation. And talking of conversation – if I am tardy this month in my response to you please forgive me as I am going to be out of internet range for most of the month as I cruise the high seas. I look forward to the conversation and your memories on my return.