Physical Training in Penmanship Practice: Correct Posture, Relaxing Exercises, Movement Practice, and Penholding, Taught in Pictures
No progress can be made in mastering good muscular movement writing until there is a correct understanding of the important steps and the order in which they must be taken.
No written or spoken words can explain these more fully and plainly than the fifteen accompanying pictures given as models. They tell all that could be told about the important beginning steps, and they should be studied with thoroughness now, and often during future practice periods.
Step one, illustration 4: Position in seat with arms hanging limply at the sides. Step two, number 5: Body turned a little to the left and arms extended above the desk, wrists and fingers limp. Step three, number 6: After permitting both arms to drop to the desk, raise right arm as shown in the picture, withdraw control and let it drop, repeating the operation until the arm drops comfortably into the writing position, with a square turn at the elbow and fingers bent naturally. Step four, number 7: Learn to run the writing machine.
Notice the closed fingers making a fist, and the absorbed interest with which this boy studies his arm near the elbow. The arm is the machine, and the engine that moves it is above the elbow. With the arm lying on the desk in that position, it requires but little eflfort to drive the wrist forward out of, and to pull it backward into, the sleeve; this is “muscular movement.” Fix in your mind the following facts: In muscular movement writing the arm is never raised above, but lies on the desk all the time in a perfectly natural, comfortable position; the sleeve remains in one place on the desk at all times, and the flesh on the arm moves, the action being inside the sleeve.
Careful study of illustrations 9 and 10 at this point will be helpful. The arrow points to the main rest, which should always be the larger part of the forearm near the elbow. In writing, the wrist and side of the hand should never touch the paper. There are only two rests, the muscle near the elbow, as explained, and the third and fourth fingers, those fingers supplying a movable rest, and gliding over the paper in the various directions in which the pen moves.
Do not think of writing or penholding at this point, but give all your attention to position, muscular relaxation, and the running of the writing machine, until good position and easy movement have become natural. It often pays primary grade pupils to practice on position, relaxing exercises, and movement, from three to six weeks before taking writing instruments. It is best that all beginners on muscular movement practice should devote several periods to these things before thinking of penholding or writing.
Future progress depends upon present understanding of these first important steps. Even after beginning the movement drills, and when muscular movement is used in all writing, parts of practice periods should be devoted to the study of the writing machine, and to the calisthenic exercises suggested.
Illustration number 8 is worthy of close study and imitation. This boy was looking at some object at a distance. In this position you should practice the movement. Test the movement here, and see if you can feel the action of the muscle of the forearm as it rests on the desk.
Definition of Movement
Muscular movement as applied to writing, is the movement of the muscles of the arm from the shoulder to the wrist, with the larger part of the arm below the elbow on the desk, the fingers not being held rigid, but remaining passive, and neither extended nor contracted in the formation of letters. In this movement the driving power is located above the elbow in the upper muscles of the arm.
Examine your right arm. Notice the increasing size from the wrist to the elbow. Note particularly the elasticity of the muscles. On the elasticity and development of those muscles depends your success in learning a good style of writing.
Reread this and make sure that you thoroughly understand what muscular movement means before going ahead, because your success depends upon it.
How to Develop Muscular Action
Place your arm on the desk and close the fingers of the right hand tightly. (Number 9.) See how far you can move the hand forward and backward without slipping the sleeve or without any motion of the wrist or fingers.
Can you move that hand through space a sufficient distance to make any capital? Could you make a capital through two or three lines of the paper, two or three times larger than necessary, without any action of the fingers?
Above are five pictures of a boy who sits in a splendid position for writing. He is never found in a cramped or poor position. In number 11, the right elbow is placed on the lower right corner, the hand pointed toward the upper left corner, of the desk. The arm may then be lowered until it rests in a writing position. In number 12, the left arm is placed on the desk as shown in pictures one, two, and three, and then the exercise of the muscles begins. The entire right arm is on the desk, and this is the best position, except when the arm is so thin that the bone of the elbow grates on the desk. Then the elbow may be extended off the desk enough to relieve the discomfort.
In no case will it be necessary to extend the elbow more than an inch; and not one pupil in a hundred will need to take advantage of this exception to the rule, that the entire right arm should be on the desk.
In number 13, make a special study of the upper part of the penholder. It does not point toward the right shoulder, and never will, if the arm, wrist, and hand are allowed to retain natural positions, providing pupil and desk are fitted to each other. In number 14, again study the right arm, and, in particular, notice its distance from the right side, also look at the portion of the penholder in sight.
In number 15, notice carefully the distance between the boy and the desk. You should always sit well back in your seat, so far back that the body will not touch the desk. This boy is none too far back; his writing is well in front of the eyes, and it is easy for him to retain the very important square turn at the right elbow. You should follow his good example in the matter of position, and if you practice faithfully you can soon become an expert penman.
Number 16 shows the position in which many good business pen-men carry the penholder when writing. Others who write just as well let the holder drop below the knuckle joint, as shown in illustrations 24 and 25 in Lesson 3. The best position is determined by the length of the fingers and the shape of the hand. It is not necessary that the pupil with a long, slim hand and long, tapering fingers, should carry his penholder in exactly the same position as the pupil with the short, thick hand and short, stubby fingers.