TEACHING BEADING AND WRITING 257
able to relieve future generations of all effort in the matter of learning to write.
Is it necessary to begin writing with the making of vertical strokes ? A moment of clear and logical thinking is enough to enable us to answer, no. The child makes too painful an effort in following such an exercise. The first steps should be the easiest, and the up and down stroke, is, on the contrary, one of the most difficult of all the pen movements. Only a professional penman could fill a whole page and preserve the regularity of such strokes, but a person who writes only moderately well would be able to complete a page of presentable writing. Indeed, the straight line is unique, expressing the shortest distance between two points, while any deviation from that direction signifies a line which is not straight. These infinite deviations are therefore easier than that one trace which is perfection.
If we should give to a number of adults the order to draw a straight line upon the blackboard, each person would draw a long line proceeding in a different direction, some beginning from one side, some from another, and almost all would succeed in making the line straight. Should we then ask that the line be drawn in a particular direction, starting from a determined point, the ability shown at first would greatly diminish, and we would see many more irregularities, or errors. Almost all the lines would be long-—for the individual must needs gather impetus in order to succeed in making his line straight.
Should we ask that the lines be made short, and in-eluded within precise limits, the errors would increase, for we would thus impede the impetus which helps to conserve the definite direction. In the methods ordinarily used in teaching writing, we add, to such limita-