Page:Theory and Practice of Handwriting.djvu/167

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appears almost in all scholars a nearly irresistible mania for turning and pushing the copy-book, till the body is twisted in a dangerous way and assumes a posture which seems incredible when seen before one fixed in a photograph. Some children carry the turning of the copy-book too far, the direction of the lines becomes uncomfortable for the arm in the normal posture of writing, the right elbow is pushed on to the desk, the right shoulder follows, moves forward and rises, the body supports itself with the right side against the writing desk, the spinal column is turned towards the left about its axis of length and shows an arched curve towards the right, while the left arm entirely slips down from the desk, on which only the fingers of the left hand still find a sorry support. Others, and indeed the majority of children, fall into the opposite fault, the copy-book is placed only slightly oblique, and therefore pushed so much the further towards the right, while the bodily distortions characteristic of right positions now show themselves.

This, then, is the most serious hygienic disadvantage of Sloping Writing,–and there is absolutely no way of obviating it,–that it allows the children to abandon the oblique middle position recommended by Berlin, with moderate turning of the copy-book of 30°–40°, in which the posture, though worse than in Vertical Writing, is at any rate tolerable, and to assume middle positions in which the copy-book is turned through much too great an angle, together with any degree of right position they choose, with all conceivable bodily distortions. Perpendicular Writing, on the other hand, can only be produced in straight middle-position, and so gives a guarantee that the children will be preserved in the preparation of their home-lessons also from the bad cramped postures which threaten health in so many ways. The Hygiene of the home-work forms an exceedingly important section of school organization, but lies, in the nature of the case, to a great extent beyond our influence.

We are deprived of the possibility of securing for the child in its parents’ house, good light, a writing-desk suited to its stature, and a well-ventilated room; and all that school hygiene has up to the present been able to do in favour of the home-lessons has been limited, besides quantative restriction of them, to the improvement of the printing. We ought to gladly and vigorously take hold of the new and exceedingly important handle which Vertical Writing offers for hygienic regulation of the writing-posture in the parent’s house; in it I see by far the most essential advantage of Perpendicular Writing.

Though Sloping Writing be encompassed with well-intentioned and carefully thought out regulations as to the position of the copy-book and the posture in writing which must be maintained, it will