Josh Giesbrecht, a public school teacher and writer from Canada, in a recent article in The Atlantic, rekindled the discussion on the importance of handwriting (see our posts here, here and here). But, with a twist. Giesbrecht suggests that perhaps it is not digital technology that hinders handwriting and its important benefits to learning and memory. Rather, it is the invention of the ballpoint pen (an interesting side story that Giesbrecht briefly covers). He cites the work of Rosemary Sasson, who contends that we teach our students to hold a ballpoint (or pencil) using a grip originally developed for holding fountain pens. This results in poor penmanship, resistance to writing, and can produce lasting physical complications. Further, fountain pens, with their specialized inks and nibs, are ideally suited for cursive writing, a more efficient and rapid way to write.
Thankfully, Waldorf Education promotes the use of fountain pens during a critical (and age appropriate) stage of learning how to write. At the Waldorf School of Baltimore, students use fountain pens from fourth grade on.