“All right, class. Sit back in your seat, keep both arms on your desk, and hold your hand so that it rests on the nails of your last two fingers. Are you ready to practice your cursive handwriting?” Those handwriting guidelines for fourth grade students in the 1920s came from “Correlated Handwriting, 4 Compendium No. 4” published by Frank N. Freeman and the Zaner-Bloser Company.
Freeman (1880-1961), who had a doctorate in educational psychology from Yale and expertise in teaching handwriting, collaborated with Zaner-Bloser to provide a student-friendly book that includes photos of youngsters practicing their handwriting and uses verses to encourage students and help them remember their technique. The textbook contains examples of handwriting so students can compare their work with them, illustrates how to head a paper, and provides an alphabetical spelling list using both capital letters and small letters.
Zaner-Bloser, established in 1888, is still doing business in Columbus, Ohio, as a division of Highlights for Children. A leading publisher of educational materials for grades K-8, Zaner-Bloser’s handwriting program has been “a national institution for several generations.” The company promotes teaching handwriting as part of the whole curriculum and believes that learning cursive handwriting helps students improve visual, motor and cognitive skills. Zaner-Bloser also offers many online services for today’s students, including a program to help children practice their handwriting skills over the summer.
Class dismissed. Your homework assignment is to visit the Vigo County Historical Museum, where you’ll find this week’s treasure, “Correlated Handwriting,” on display in the classroom on the second floor.