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This article on How the ballpoint pen killed cursive (via andrewducker) reminds me of something.

I did a single year in London pre-tertiary education, in first year secondary school. One of the many differences between that and my otherwise mostly US-based early formal education was that the school required us to have a fountain pen. My parents bought me a cheap basic school model, refilled with cartridges like everyone else. It was meant for more formal writing situations (with ballpoints allowed in less formal situations), but I found it awkward since I hadn't ever used one before that. As I know from later usage, better-quality fountain pens can be lovely to write with; this one wasn't.

But that's not the point. I haven't heard anyone discuss fountain pens outside the realm of specialist love and practice since then.

Are fountain pens still used in the UK educational system anywhere, or have they fallen by the wayside in the intervening decades?

(My own pen-love has largely settled on superfine felt-tips these days.)


Sep. 2nd, 2015 01:31 pm (UTC)
I was taught cursive, by school (mainly by close-to retirement WWII-veteran teacher) and my mother (born 1918).

I cannot write comfortably or legibly with a biro, especially now I have quite severe arthritis in my hands, so use either a fine fibre tip or one of my fountain pens to mark work and make any hand-written records.

Some of my pupils - bear in mind I work with a lot of the poorest kids in mainstream schools and a mixture of kids with special needs - have never seen a fountain pen before and are bemused by mine. I encourage them to use a form of cursive, because you can write quicker with it, and while exams are still hand-written, that is a huge advantage over printing letters.

My pupils and some of my younger colleagues struggle to read my writing. They think my cursive lower case zed is a three and are bewildered by my lower case esses and pees and bees.

I get kids to improve their writing by using fibretips, and when I could two decent fountain pens for a quid in Poundland, used to give out fountain pens as prizes.