Monday, October 03, 2005

The Foundation for a Legible, Fluent, Attractive & Personal Writing Style

Of all the certificates, diplomas and degrees I’ve earned, none is more meaningful to me than my Pen License, issued in 1980, when I was in Grade 4. My memory (and it’s an unreliable one) is that I was one of the first presented with a License, which permitted me to write with an ink pen, leaving lead pencils behind to messier and more uneven hands.

Even at nine years old, I was aware that this milestone wasn’t what it once was: my parents spoke of their school days using inkwells, nibbed pens and blotters. Ours were standard issue blue biros, but they were real, grown-up pens nonetheless. The License itself was a certificate, now regrettably lost.

What remains, however, is this book: Modern Cursive Writing Work Book Year 6. First printed in 1961, this copy a 1981 reprint. For some reason, the book is only filled out halfway into Lesson 8, so I missed copying sentences such as “We went to Sydney in Wendy’s new fawn station wagon.” Or “Sylvia got into mischief and suddenly disappeared.” Even more ominous, however, are these four sentences from Lesson 13:

Our government is responsible for Australia’s progress.

Our population supports the need for law and order.

Australia’s history is a story of wonderful progress.

We are grateful for the vision of our pioneers.

Got that kids? Let’s move onto Lesson 14.

If you’d known me as a child, with my stencils, my Letraset and my Derwent pencils, you won’t be surprised at all to know that I was on the first inaugural Twilight Typo Tour of Melbourne last night, along with fellow knitter/blogger/typophile Erin. Or that the night before, I was at the first inaugural Typo Film Festival, reveling in the mastery of lettering genius John Downer and watching jealously as the folks at Firefly Press cranked the Vandercook. Watching these craftsmen at work was the perfect antidote to another uneven discussion bogged down in theory and corporate-speak. Let’s just say, when you can wield a Speedball like Downer, I’ll start paying attention to your thoughts on branding. Until then, let’s try educate our students that there is more, much more, to a life in design than simply fun, fame or fortune, or any two out of the above three.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it. I remember desperately wanting to move from lead pencil to blue biro - which happened in the 4th grade. Oh how grown up it was to have blue biro!!
I also remember getting my sewing machine license in Year 7 - you had to sew a straight line (and I mean straight) and thread the machine.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, I was just talking about this to a friend! I did year 4 in '81, so we're of a similar age. Did you have those little words in Kindy, like scrabble letters? But they were whole words, and there was a little stand like the scrabble stand, and you had to make sentences on the stand with the words.
Odd, the things we remember. My daughter is 12, and pen licenses are still a Big Deal in Year 3 and 4.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Lesson 13 is such a kak!!
I tried to switch to pen a little too early in life. I was a baseball fanatic and by the age 7 or 8 (the licensing years) my grandfather had taught me how to do a baseball scorecard, which involves a whole lot of little symbols in little boxes. In my first attempt on my own (scoring a game on telly), no one was looking so I deviously switched to the much coveted biro. This resulted in tears, of course, when I made scoring mistakes. To this day I prefer pencil.

1:45 PM  

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