Experiments show the way
Make heaps of whatever works. Share the good stuff. Drop the rest.
What works in the classroom?
A foundation of practical work
A quarter of a century ago, italic was introduced in Iceland. A group of teachers, led by the redoubtable Mrs. Hilda Torfadóttir, formed a group for the experimental teaching of handwriting. I helped them with teaching aids and a model alphabet. Our beginnings were described in Cursive Italic News vol. 2 no. 3.
Technology took a useful step soon after the project began. It became possible to digitize the model alphabet. Teachers could make their own exercise sheets on a computer and knock them out on a printer.
During the last decade, we have learned a few things. Beginners, for instance, prefer a surprisingly large handwriting model. An x-height of about three quarters of an inch has given good results. That’s twice the size that current wisdom had suggested.
A well-worn complaint about italic turned out to be correct. The letters m, n, and u are too similar. They tend to turn into a scrawl. And saying “just write carefully” isn’t much of a remedy.