Some Palmer Method Facts
IMPORTANT MESSAGE (November 2014): We need your feedback. Please help us improve this site.
Read and Carefully Consider Everything on These Pages Before Beginning the Study and Practice of the Lessons. Failing to follow These Simple Suggestions, You are Likely to Waste Many Hours, Weeks, and Months in Useless Practice.
THE PALMER METHOD is an online text-book on practical writing and should be studied as such — not treated as a copy-book. The printed instructions are the author’s direct personal talks to pupils — the same things he would say to you from day to day were he personally to teach you. These instructions are of more importance than the copies. They tell you how to develop and use the muscular movement in writing. If you do not follow the instructions, you will fail. Pupils who followed absolutely the Palmer Method plan have always learned to write well. Pupils who have not first studied the plainly printed directions and followed them absolutely, have partly or completely failed. Failure is unnecessary. Thousands of young men and women have made the Palmer Method of Business Writing the stepping-stone to positions in business offices, where commercial advancement rewarded faithful service.
In hundreds of classes where the Palmer Method has been faithfully studied and completely mastered, periods devoted to written spelling, composition, examinations, and other written work have been reduced more than half. Time thus saved has been put to very good use in other directions. In the beginning stages of the work, until good position, muscular relaxation, correct and comfortable penholding, and muscular movement as a habit in writing have been acquired, extra practice may be necessary; but the extra time will be saved many times over in all written work later.
Muscular movement writing means good, healthful posture, straight spinal columns, eyes far enough away from the paper for safety, and both shoulders of equal height. These features alone should be sufficient to encourage boys and girls to master a physical training system of writing such as is presented in the following pages, remembering that it is impossible to do good muscular movement writing in twisted, unhealthful positions, or with stiff and rigid muscles.
Straight line and oval drills are of no value except as they lead to writing. They are the means through which to gain the muscular control that will enable pupils to master an ideal permanent style of rapid, plain-as-print writing.
When pupils have learned good posture, correct penholding, and how to use muscular movement in making a good two-space compact oval, they are ready to begin to learn how to write well. Too many pupils think they have really learned how to write well when they are able to make some of the very simple drills in correct posture at the right speed and in correct rhythm. That is really the starting-point toward good penmanship, and should be followed immediately by the practice of words, and, indeed, by the use of the movement in all written work.
Study and practice go hand in hand in securing the best results in the shortest possible time. Keep the Manual open before you as you practice; study and make frequent and careful comparisons of your work with the drills if you wish to make rapid progress.
Your letters, words, and sentences should occupy the same amount of space they do in the Manual. Always, before beginning practice, the drill should be studied in every little detail until the correct picture is in your mind.
Just how and where does the first line in a letter begin; is it made with an upward or downward stroke; how high is the letter; how wide is each part; how much running space does it occupy; in what direction should the pen move in beginning, continuing, and completing the letter; and at what rate of speed should the letter or word be written? These are questions that should constantly occupy you as soon as automatic muscular movement has been established. In fact, as was said before, study and practice must go hand in hand, if good results are to be the outcome.
Blackboard copies, though written by expert penmen, are seen at many different angles, and at different distances, and do not give correct mental impressions.
It is highly important not only that pupils have copies of the Manual, but that they study the printed instructions and drills, closely and constantly.
The plainly printed instructions in the Palmer Method tell you step by step exactly what to do and how to do it, in order to progress steadily and surely toward the desired end.
Millions of American boys and girls have learned a permanent style of rapid, easy, legible, and beautiful writing by carefully and patiently following the printed directions found in the Palmer Method of Business Writing. Final results have then been delightful to pupils, teachers, parents, and school officials.
The first step is a correct understanding of the required position. Study the pictures on pages twelve, fourteen, and fifteen, of a pupil who has learned how to sit so as to use the large tireless muscles of his arms to the best possible advantage. Study every little detail of these pictures from the crown of the head to the shoes. Study particularly and closely the arms, the relation of one arm to the other, the position at the desk, the distance of the body from the desk, and the positions of the fingers preparatory to taking the penholder.
As progress is made in the more advanced lessons, you should refer frequently to these pictures and try to sit as this pupil sat when his photographs were taken for the Palmer Method. When writing, he always sits as shown in these photographs, and he knows that it would be physically impossible to use muscular movement writing in a cramped, unhealthful position.
There is an old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” That is only partly true in relation to writing. Practice of the right kind leads toward perfection, but the wrong kind of practice leads just as surely in the opposite direction. It is not so much the exercise that is practiced as the manner in which it is practiced. Millions of pupils have wasted the time given to movement exercises because they thought it was the exercise that counted and not the manner in which it was made.
There is no value in any penmanship drill ever invented unless it is practiced with correct positions of body, arms, fingers, penholders, paper, and with exactly the right movement, and at exactly the right rate of speed.
If you study the instructions in the Palmer Method, and follow them absolutely in daily practice, you will make steady progress and, within a short time, become a splendid penman. But, even should you spend a great deal of time practicing the drills in a poor position with cramped muscles and with the wrong movement, you not only will make no progress toward good writing, but will contract bad habits, or firmly fix those already established, and, under such conditions, the possibility of learning to write well will constantly become more and more remote.
It is a fact, that among the thousands of men and women employed in business offices who do longhand writing constantly, rapidly, and well, none can be found who do not use muscular movement, because it is the only movement through which penmanship embracing in the highest degree legibility, rapidity, ease, and endurance can be developed.
It is now generally conceded that systems of copy-books have inevitably resulted in a poor finished product of penmanship. Public school officials and teachers were satisfied with copy-books so long as they did not consider good posture, muscular relaxation, easy, tireless movement and reasonable speed, as important factors. Then the discovery was made that pupils were able to draw the letters slowly and very accurately in close imitation of mechanically engraved copies, but that when rapid, continuous writing was required in the penmanship employed in written spelling, compositions, examinations, etc., the letter forms became dissipated in appearance and soon approached the stage of scribbling.
It must be conceded by everyone that any system of writing which does not lead to an automatic style embodying legibility, rapidity, ease, and endurance is a failure.
The term “Copy-book” has been applied for many years to sheets of paper bound together with a cover, containing at the top of each page, a line of writing or an exercise to be imitated by the pupils on the lines below. Sometimes the headlines are made from carefully penciled copies, mechanically perfected through a system of hand engraving.
There are also bound books, with copies at the top of the pages that were really written with some show of muscular movement and afterward photo-engraved, but the copy-book principles are involved in the publication of such books — principles which preclude the teaching of good writing through their use. The mental attitude of pupils who see before them the immaculate page upon which they must make reproductions, as nearly facsimile as possible of the copies at the top, is wholly unfavorable to the process.
Another recent copy-book system is the pad with the copy at the top, and sometimes at the top and center of each page, there being blank lines below for practice purposes. These modified copy-books are probably doing just as much harm to the cause of practical writing as the former kind. Unless the mental attitude is right, physical conditions will be wrong.