Calligraphy change-up

I noticed something a few years ago in many of the kids I work with who are struggling with writing (and when I say they were struggling I mean they weren’t meeting adults’ expectations of their writing; they didn’t seem to mind so it’s maybe more accurate to say they were struggling with and not meeting writing expectations).  These kids tended to spend a lot of time decorating their letters, adding curls and whiskers and various other embellishments.

They seemed to be looking for ways to make it interesting.  One day I pulled out a calligraphy book and put it in front of one of these letter decorators.  His eyes widened.  We spent several minutes experimenting with a calligraphy pen.  In an instant he shed his sullen mood of “I’ll do only as little as I can get away with” and toiled seriously until it was time to leave.

Writing tends to be fraught with resistance for young people, particularly when it still feels like a physical chore and has yet to show compelling purpose other than pleasing adults.  We cling to the progression we were taught, taking the way kids writhe around and resist as an unavoidable by-product of things as they must be.  Changing things up with something like calligraphy, loosening our grip on The Proper Order of Things can make room for kids to start from scratch with their relationship to the likes of letters and words, to build one that suits them, one they can really make their own.


2 Responses

  1. This is exactly what happened with my fourteen year old, eight grade grandaughter last week. She arrived home from school excited to tell me about the wonderful pen her social studies teacher demonstrated in the classroom. My grandaughter, who is always in a rush to complete her work at the expense of the quality of her writing, presented me with an entire page of work she wrote with the “magic” pen that belonged to her teacher. Her writing looked like it was printed by a calligraphy press. I had to look twice before I realized it was her work. Needless to say, Abby’s mom took her to Michael’s and found the “magic” pen. It has changed the way Abby now approaches her written assignments. It makes writing more fun for her and she is proud of her paper when she is finished. I think I will purchase one for her eleven year old sister whom I home school.

  2. Any recommendations about a calligraphy pen and book that you like? This sounds like fun! Wes has been using ink a lot more and his dad loves fountain pens, so I’m thinking there’s something there….

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