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Pen Licence Perils Poem

I have never been a fan of pen licences. As a student I didn't like them and as a teacher, and a left handed writer, I refused to implement them in my classes. I figured there were more authentic ways to encourage kids to write neatly. I would explain to kids that writing neatly was a way of showing respect for your readers, your audience. Whatever you write with -pen, pencil, marker, the same message applies- its about respecting your audience.

 Having spent my entire writing life railing against the false prediction of my very first teacher who told me, 'Alan, you need to write with your right hand, otherwise you will never be a neat writer,' you can understand why I don't hold much store in pen licences. I am proud of my left handed writing. It may be slow and deliberate at times, but it is neat, quite neat.  My teacher's prediction proved to be way off the mark. Her words have motivated me to dispel her dire predictions for  my handwriting future. 

So, here's my poem in defence of all those young learners doing their very best to write neatly... 

Pen Licence Perils

Tomorrow looked so much better
Than it does today
Doubt is now all around me
It rumbles like thunder in the distance…
Personally, I think pen licences are a bit silly
But, my teacher thinks we must have one before we can
Give up our pencils
I just want to write
-sometimes with a pen
-sometimes with a pencil
We don’t need a book licence to read
So, why do need a pen licence?
Today, I grip my pencil more tightly
Words form reluctantly on the page
Nervous letters
Shaky S'es
Trembling T's
Tomorrow looked so much better
Than it does today
I never needed a knife and fork licence
Or a shoelace tying licence
Pen licences should be struck off
With the stroke of a… 

Alan j Wright


  1. I had to research 'pen licence', Alan, and there are templates available! I had no idea, but I understand the angst, and love that with a pen stroke, they could be gone. My son is a lefty & went through a bit with his teacher about the writing, but we have no licencing here, only grumpy teachers of handwriting. My son, btw, is grown & done very well!

    1. A story of triumph is always compelling Linda. The notion of 'pen licences' may well be an Australian invention, which makes it all the more disappointing from my perspective.

  2. I had not heard of a pen license. I'm glad I never encountered one because I may never have earned one with my messy scrawl. (If I want something read, I try to type it for my readers.) And I'm right-handed to boot. We won't mention how many times I had to redo the handwriting portion of one class I needed for my elementary teaching license.

    1. You have been saved this indignity Kay. What a relief!

  3. Fun rallying poem for left handers Alan, I think we should ban all "pen licenses," I never heard of them before. I am partial to left handed people first, my daughter is left handed and writes beautifully, second I'm a visual artist and I see value in all different kinds of mark making.

    I love your lunes–the humor and how they visually appear in your notebook.

    1. I like your attitude Michelle. Glad you enjoyed the lunes too.

  4. Wowza! This was new to me too. A pen license. I am still stuck on this. I'm with you. Long live writing with whatever helps one express a meaningful thought! Peace...


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