Marion Richardson, Her life and her contribution to handwriting, by Dr. Rosemary Sassoon is one that I highly recommend to anyone interested in handwriting. Richardson, 1892-1947, was a dedicated instructor of handwriting.
She believed that a model alphabet is needed for beginners. Hers was simple and designed to fit the most natural movements of the hand. She believed that once learned, children should move on from the model to develop personal hands. This is something Sassoon, as mentor, impressed upon me, and which I try to follow in my own instruction.
The norm among handwriting programs is to provide initial letterforms, and to continue with exemplars, grade-by-grade, with larger characters for beginners to copy, followed by increasingly smaller ones to imitate.
Sassoon’s book includes this says-it-all quote from Richardson.
‘As I watched I gradually realised the supreme importance of natural movement and saw that the gestures made were those, and only those, of which the hand was most easily capable.By scribbling they were teaching themselves both to write and draw…I saw that in scribble the same patterns occurred over and over again, and reduced themselves to six that were separate and essential; that in shape every letter of our alphabet was but a variation of these themes.’
Two things are missing in most handwriting programs, attention to natural movement within the design of the letterforms, and allowance for students to develop personal hands.