During the early years of schooling, an important aspect of education that is either overlooked or misunderstood is the handwriting of students. Most teachers and parents seem to be carried away by the idea of developing a ‘uniform handwriting style’ among students. Not that the idea is entirely bad, but it is necessary to be aware of what we mean by uniformity for this awareness can affect the methods that we apply. If our intention is to see in the students’ notebooks perfect as well as identical samples of handwriting, it raises two questions. Firstly, is the expectation realistic? Secondly, is it desirable? After contemplation, it would be hard to answer either of the questions in the affirmative.
Graphology is based on the fundamental principle that one’s handwriting is very much a reflection of one’s personality. Should that be so, all the students in a classroom writing in the same manner would imply that all of them have the same mindset or its direction of development. Obviously, that is quite unlikely since they belong to and come from diverse backgrounds, having had their exposure to a wide range of influences that can have only a little in common. In a utopian situation, if such a thing happened in a classroom, that would be as unexciting as all the people having the same face and voice. The world is interesting because our faces, voices and the way we do things are infinitely different. The handwriting of a child, which takes a long time to form, evolve and stabilize is usually the result of the amalgamation of numerous influences and it is bound to be as unique the DNA itself unless the process of its formation is unduly tampered with. Ideally, it should be possible to recognize a person by his/her handwriting just as we do by the face or voice or gait.
It is not to say that the aspect of uniformity with respect to handwriting is entirely to be ruled out. There are several ways in which diversity and uniformity can coexist and that does not have to be a contradiction. For instance, we all write from left to right, from top to bottom and from front to back. We all use the right hand for writing, of course, with the exception of an occasional left-handed writer. There is a certain set of basic principles as to the method of writing and we all respect these rules. To that extent, uniformity does exist. The obsession among parents and teachers for uniform handwriting, the kind that is seen in cursive writing exercise books, is often because good handwriting is often mistaken with calligraphy. They would do well to realize that good handwriting is all about cultivating and following the fundamentals regarding sitting posture, pencil grip, paper positioning, hand movement and zones. It has little to do with beauty. Good handwriting is a scientific term and by no means aesthetic. What matters is legibility and not the curves.