There’s a woman I work with who holds her pen straight up and down when she writes. If she were writing with a calligraphy brush, that would be the correct position, but it just looks weird when she’s using a pen, and even weirder when she’s writing in English because the stroke order is different from what I was taught. For example, most Japanese cross the “t” before they make the down stroke, which is correct if you’re writing kanji, but I was taught that is WRONG.
Apparently, American schools don’t teach stroke order anymore; such training inhibits the child’s innate creativity or some such thing. Really, if you think about it, what does stroke order matter as long as you, and other people, can read what you write? Proper stroke order doesn’t always help with that anyway.
I had to go to a meeting on Sunday, the only time both of us were available, and it was strange but cool to be there then. The office is the size of a football field, with the yard lines being row after row of desks stretching into the distance. Only the bank of lights over this guy’s section was turned on. The rest of the usually brightly lit and rather loud room was murky and silent.
We sat at a table by the windows and when he wrote something down, I noticed that he was a lefty. Nothing unusual there, but then he put the pen down, picked it up again with his right hand, and wrote down something else, in English, complete with the odd stroke order.
I sputtered, “You…but…you, you…j-just…what?” I can be so eloquent.
I had heard of that, of course, but had never seen it before. He looked up innocently and said something like, “Is that so strange?”Perhaps Japan, with all its emphasis on conformity, had made him feel like an oddball.
So I said, “Well, yes, but only in a very cool way.” Then I taught him the word ambidextrous, which he thought was a pretty cool word.
And I said, “It is cool. Just like you.”
Up, down, side to side, right hand, left hand, both hands. I guess it’s all a matter of whatever gets the job done.