This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
A WRITING School conducted thus, according to the foregoing arrangement of lessons, the principles of penmanship being explicitly illustrated on the blackboard and taught by a thoroughly competent teacher, will be of great and lasting service to the community in which it is held, and will afford every member of the class a season of highly profitable enjoyment. Of course the success of the school mainly depends upon the teacher. The instructor is, in fact, the life and soul of the class. If he possess love of order, tact, versatility, knowledge of human nature, self-possession, with ability to illustrate, explain and entertain his class with story and anecdote pertaining to writing, he will find his classes large and the profession of teaching writing as profitable to himself and as beneficial to the public as any upon which he can enter.
Should teaching writing be chosen as a profession for a series of years, it is well for the teacher to select a dozen or twenty villages in which to teach, and give instruction in each of these localities, once or twice a twelvemonth for years in succession rather than teach over a very wide range of country. The teacher's reputation thus becomes established, the profession is dignified and ennobled; people knowing the worth of the school are free to patronize, and thus the avocation is made much more pleasant and profitable to the teacher.
The outline of instruction given for the foregoing series of lessons is but a brief epitome of what each lesson ought to be. The enumeration of subjects may guide the young teacher somewhat, but the whole should be greatly elaborated, and will be, by the ingenious teacher, as circumstances demand.
The usual charge for a course of instruction of 12 lessons is from $2 to $5 per pupil.
The strictest order should be maintained. No whispering ought to be allowed. Such stillness should reign in the school that every scratching pen may be distinctly heard.
To secure order the teacher will notice when the first evidence of restlessness begins to manifest itself in the class; certain students becoming tired of writing. If this uneasiness is allowed to continue twenty minutes, the school will be oftentimes a scene of confusion, but upon the first appearance of weariness, the attention of the class should be directed for a short time to the blackboard, or the time may be occupied for a little while by some story, humorous or otherwise, having a bearing upon writing; listening to which the students become rested, and proceed with their practice afterwards with pleasure.
Having invited the leading citizens of the town to visit the school, call upon them frequently for remarks to the class on the subject of writing. From the business and professional men who may thus address the class, the teacher and pupils may oftentimes gain many valuable ideas, the class will be encouraged, and better discipline will be secured. The great secret of preserving good order in school is to keep the mind of the students constantly employed with the work in hand.
The subjects pertaining to writing are abundant, and it becomes the teacher to study and present them to the class in familiar lectures as occasion demands. Many of the succeeding chapters of this book afford subject matter, from which the teacher of penmanship can obtain topics to discuss, that will entertain and instruct the class, while the instructor should, at the same time, be on the alert for practical subjects to illustrate his work, from whatever source they may be obtained. For example, how character can be told from penmanship; what faculties of mind are employed in the execution of writing; why some pupils are naturally handsome penmen and others not; why Edward Everett should write elegantly and Horace Greeley with a scrawl; why gentlemen naturally write a large hand, and ladies fine, etc. »
The effect of temperament on penmanship, and the result of using stimulants, should be thoroughly considered, and presented to the class. Students should be urged to avoid the use of tobacco as a noxious habit that lays the foundation for intemperance, and the use of strong drink as the destroyer of the soul; both tobacco and stimulants being also destructive to that steadiness of nerve essential to the execution of beautiful penmanship.
Many a boy may be deterred from an evil habit by the good example and advice of the teacher, admonishing him that superiority in penmanship and great excellence in life will come from being strictly temperate.