Monday, August 31, 2015

All for the sake of Good Handwriting

I  started  my  education  in   Lady Irwin  High   School, (later  Higher Secondary School ) Shimla-precursor of the present Dayanand Public School, which  despite  a different name  was under the  DAV  management. Without  the  trappings  of  a  public school, English was taught  from   Class  I. It was a  girls’ school,  boys  being allowed upto Class IV only. By the time  we reached  our last class in this school, we had started  reciting  and  learning  by rote  English poems. All the  teachers  were  ladies. We    wrote with lead pencils .
All this changed  when I got admitted  to the local  S.D. Higher Secondary School in Class V . Teachers were all  male, and strict disciplinarians  at that , though  devout  teachers  and   literally wedded to the profession.  Uniform was compulsory only on Monday , though   some of us  wore it  on all days.Only one notebook for each books was prescribed – there being no separate  notebooks for class work and homework.    But the rude shock came in the shape of   use of ink instead of lead pencils. It  was  ‘G’   nib   fixed to a holder   for English and  ‘ Qalam ‘ made from bamboo reed    for   Hindi and other subjects. New to this , it took me  quite  some  period  of time to get used.  Every time opening the inkpot and placing it on table,  then dipping the holder with the nib or the  Qalam  in ink and  writing  on notebook  was quite taxing. All the time my  fingers got stained  with  ink , which  was removed with difficulty on reaching home . Sometimes, if the inkpot had a loose cap , ink would spill out and spoil   the bag and the  books and notebooks. The use of blotting paper  while turning pages was quite frequent.However, we got wise with time and had our fountain pen nibs cut in the  Qalam style  which  brought forth the same results , but without hassles.   Good  handwriting  was not only encouraged  but duly emphasized.  There  was   a competition of sorts  among the students who cared, to earn  as many  ‘ Good ‘ or ‘Very Good’ remarks as  they could.  A far cry from the present  day  emphasis  on cursive writing in schools, without  teaching the students how to write. I must say this stood us in good stead so far as handwriting is concerned. This reminds  of  Mahatma Gandhi’s lament  that he  did not  have a good handwriting  and called  this a sign of imperfect education. 

The good old days !

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