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WRITTEN LANGUAGE                        245

writing? And would it not have been simpler to begin with cursive

Would many not believe that in order to learn to write it is
necessary to make children draw little strokes? This used to be a
deep-seated conviction. It actually seemed natural that, in order
to write the letters of the alphabet which are all round, it was
necessary to begin with straight lines and with strokes giving a bend
at an acute angle. Need we really marvel then that the beginner
experienced such great difficulty in getting rid of sharp angularity
when attempting the beautiful curves of the letter 0, or how much
effort he and we expended in getting him to make strokes and
write with acute angles? Who is it who revealed to us that the
first drawing to be made ought to be a straight line? And why are
we so determined to use angles to prepare the way for curves?

Let us rid ourselves for a moment from such preconceptions,
and let us travel along a simpler track. Perhaps it will bring us
great relief, sparing future humanity every effort needed to learn
to write.

Is it necessary to begin with strokes? Logical thought at once
answers " No ". The child expends too painful an effort in. such
an exercise, for the strokes must form only the minor difficulty
which has to be overcome.

Also, if we notice carefully, the stroke is the most difficult
exercise to accomplish; only a first-class writer can complete with
regularity a page of strokes, whilst a person who writes moderately
well could offer a page of presentable writing. In fact, the straight
line is unique, indicating the shortest distance between two points.
On the contrary, every deviation from this direction'means a line
which is not straight; the infinite deviations are therefore easier
than the unique line, which represents perfection. If the order is
given to draw on the blackboard a straight line without any other
limitation, every one will draw a long line, in different directions,
beginning sometimes on the one side, sometimes on the other and
almost all will succeed in it. If one asks for a .straight line to be
drawn in some particular direction and beginning from a definite.