Mr. PV Maiya often tells stories with profound meaning. Here is one such story:
Mr. Ramananda Rao, after completing SSLC in pre-independence era, submitted a hand-written application for the post of a clerk in State Bank of India, Mangalore. The application reached the head-clerk, who thought the buck stopped at him, crumpled the application in to a ball of paper and threw aside.
The British manager of the bank walked by in the evening and opened the ball of paper out of curiosity, and asked the head-clerk about its origin. Then the manager told that a boy with so clear expression and such beautiful handwriting was needed in the bank. The next day, Ramananda Rao was an employee of the bank. He became one of the finest bankers of the country and rose to become the Managing Director of State Bank of India.
Diligence and neatness in any work is always satisfying and mostly fetches unexpected rewards.
Necessity to write using a pen has diminished as computers are now part of personal life for most of us. It is more productive to write a digital copy than a physical copy of any document. On occasions when I thought that a handwritten version would give a personal touch and feel warm, the interest was overcome by the convenience and efficiency of writing digitally. However, it is not yet time to forget handwriting. At least in schools, the students still have to write physical copies.
Handwriting experts say that we can change our life by changing our handwriting. Several courses are offered on handwriting analysis. I am not sure about the claim that a person’s character is reflected in his handwriting and can be assessed by analysing his handwriting. However, I like good handwriting.
While the need to write continues, it would be good to pay attention to the beauty in writing. An inviting façade welcomes visitors. If the handwriting is neat, the paper invites readers. More important is legibility of handwritten text than the style and beauty. Improving legibility can be learnt with ease by paying attention to the patterns of characters.
An year ago a girl in class-3 had difficulty with Kannada. Her parents, hailing from Tamilnadu and not knowing to read and write Kannada, could not help her. Kannada teacher was very unhappy with the girl as her writing was very poor. I spent 30 minutes a day for a week teaching her the basics of character patterns in Kannada. She started getting ‘A’ grade in Kannada after that, making me very happy and satisfied.
In some cases, a child may be stressed out trying to write neatly. Dr. Mel Levine states in his books “Developmental Variation and Learning Disorders,” “A Mind at a Time” and “The Myth of Laziness“:
“Like all learning problems, difficulties in writing can be devastating to a child’s education and self-esteem. As children progress through school, they are increasingly expected to express what they know about many different subjects through writing. If a child fails to develop certain basic skills, he will be unable to write with the speed and fluency required to excel as these demands increase. Indeed, for a child struggling with a writing problem, the writing process itself interferes with learning. Students faced with such difficult odds have trouble staying motivated.”
Based on his research, he shows that neurodevelopmental problems and their potential impacts on writing. These could be Attention Problem, Spatial Ordering Problem, Sequential Ordering Problem, Memory Problem, Language Problem, or Higher-Order Cognition Problem.
Thus, apart from the legibility aspect, if a child is unable to write as well as expected from children of her age and education, it may not be plain laziness, but could be a neurodevelopmental problem.
Not connected with what we have chatted about in the post, I remember a stanza from “Rubaiyat” by Omar Khayyam:
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.