Educational Bulletins

educational bulletins

May 2, 2024

The Palmer Method & Productive Penmanship, Circa 1888

EB 102-2024

Lessons Learned from Austin Palmer and the Palmer Method:

  • There was a search for efficiency to improve a task not only for one, but for many.
  • A system developed by Austin Palmer—"The Palmer Method"—eliminated a time-consuming and difficult-to-learn method.
  • The Palmer Method revealed to be beneficial to children—producing better readers, more efficient neural processing, and greater learning.
  • Sometimes technology is not better and can hinder learning.
    • Keyboarding vs. pen and paper (cursive)

History of the Palmer Method:

  • Austin Palmer worked as an engrosser when he was 19.
  • The Spencerian Method, an "elaborate script with decorative flourishes on each letter,"1 was the primary style of writing.
    • This method was time-consuming and difficult to learn.
    • Typewriters became an alternative, but they were new, and few knew how to use them.
  • Palmer looked for a new way of writing that was legible and quick.
  • He created a writing system that maintained the ovals and straight lines and nixed the additional flourishes the Spencerian Method required.
  • Palmer shared his technique and method in newspaper articles and, as a result, was hired to teach a summer school for nuns.
  • A textbook introducing Palmer's method was later printed in 1888 and titled, The Palmer Method of Business Writing.

Benefits of Cursive Handwriting:

  • "Studies conducted with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have shown that cursive handwriting can improve brain functioning and yield benefits for children as well as adults. 
  • Handwriting activates parts of the brain that typing does not.
  • Young children who receive handwriting instruction become better readers. College students who take notes by hand learn more than students who type their notes on tablets or laptops.
  • Handwriting leads to more efficient neural processing and greater learning."

1Hoffner, Helen. "The Catholic Roots of Penmanship." Catholic Exchange, 20 March, 2024,


April 22, 2024

Lessons from Early Private Schools

EB 101-2024

There are many things that can be learned from private schools in the early 20th century. Schools focused on teaching students practical skills while also placing emphasis on the comprehension of materials. Teachers provided direct explanations of topics—similar to modern day direct instruction—and frequently used simple illustrations to support learning. 20th Century Schools and Thales Academy are There are profound similarities between 20th century schools and Thales Academy, both in conduct and educational philosophy. The American High School by John Franklin Brown offers a unique insight about the history of American academies.

Grammar Schools

  • The Religious and Moral Purpose of these schools was emphasized quite as the intellectual. In the selection of teachers, as much attention was given to their piety and morality as to their scholarship.
  • Theoretically they were free, though fees of some sort were usually paid, except in the case of the poorest pupils.
  • They were small schools, usually taught by one or two teachers.
  • Its curriculum was principally made up of the classical languages, especially Latin, although in the lower classes considerable time was necessarily spent upon reading, writing, and arithmetic.
  • It was influenced in large part by the Church and churchmen who laid great stress upon the importance of moral and religious education. The Particular Characteristics of the American academies may be stated as follows:
    • Challenged the narrow classical training afforded by the grammar schools.
    • A substantial secondary education for all youth, not just college bound students.
    • Their early development was almost entirely independent of the college, but they soon came to provide a college preparatory course.
    • They were organized and managed by private effort and private funds.
    • They trained teachers for the elementary schools.
    • They influenced the entrance requirements of the colleges.
    • They were animated by a broader, freer, more truly American spirit than the grammar schools, a spirit more in accord with the developing characteristic American democracy.
    • The fact that they were managed by private effort and that they were not free prevented any organic connection with the public elementary schools and rendered them somewhat exclusive (23-24).

Function of the Elementary School

  • …besides the moral and social purposes which characterize all schools, the function of the elementary schools is to give the pupil command of the tools of education. These are reading, writing, arithmetic, and the ability to use the mother tongue effectively in writing and speaking. With these arts at his command the child has the key to all learning (42).
  • In the second period of the elementary school as distinguished from that of the primary school, the emphasis is shifted from the mastery of the means of knowledge as a purpose to the mastery of knowledge itself (42).
  • Geography, literature, physiology, grammar, history, advanced arithmetic, and civics are taught not so much because they are the means of acquiring additional information, however valuable they may be for that purpose, as because the knowledge gained in the study of these subjects has in itself practical and cultural value for the pupil (42).

Organization and Management

  • If, as a matter of policy, weak and incapable pupils are occasionally passed from the grades into the high school…
  • If pupils are capable of doing the work of any grade, they should be required to do it before they are promoted. Not to require this is to do them a great unkindness; for in attempting the advanced work they are likely to become discouraged and fail, whereas if they had been required to do their work thoroughly before promotion, they would have passed on successfully (144).
  • The number of recitations per day for each teacher should not exceed six (158).
  • The teacher is, by all odds, the most influential factor in high-school education (193).

As Thales Academy continues fulfilling its commitment to provide an excellent and affordable education all students, many great lessons can be learned from schools in the 20th century. Similar principles are used at Thales Academy to provide students with practical skills and knowledge.