As schools scramble for funds for the latest in high-tech machines, one school in Scotland is turning to the tried and true fountain pen to teach their students the value of beautiful handwriting, reports MSNBC
Students at Mary Erskine and Stewart's Melville Junior School receive a fountain pen to write their essays because the principal believes the old-fashioned tool aids in boosting academic performance and self-esteem.
Even the ball point pen is shunned to make way for its more artful predecessor.
"The pens improve the quality of work because they force the children to take care, and better work improves self-esteem," principal Bryan Lewis said. "Proper handwriting is as relevant today as it ever has been."
Just because students are required to use fountain pens for writing doesn't mean that the school eschews all new technology. They still have access to computers. But working with a fountain pen allows students to work in a meticulous and graceful fashion, the principal says.
"At the start it was hard because I kept smudging, but you get used to it," said ten-year-old Cailean Gall. "I still have to use a pencil for math, and now I find it strange using the pencils. I like it because it makes me concentrate much more on my work."
Teachers also must take a course in how to write with a fountain pen, before they can teach classes and they are seeing the value that beautiful writing can have.
"I don't see fountain pens as old-fashioned or outmoded. Modern fountain pens are beautiful to use; it's not like in the old days of broken nibs and smudging," Lewis said. "We have a particular writing style and we have developed it very carefully and found a way that allows left- and right-handed people to write without smudging."
Some people think that technology will make handwriting outmoded. But students still need to be able to hand write exam papers to gain entrance to universities.
"We talk of the paperless office and the paperless world, but this is not true," Lewis said. "You still need to have proper handwriting skills."