Every teacher I had from kindergarten through about third grade tried to change the way I held my pencil. I'd try their way for a couple of days, but the moment I shifted my concentration from my fingers to what I was doing with the pencil, I'd revert to my old ways. To this day I use my middle finger and thumb to pinch the pencil, rather than my index finger and thumb.
It was clearly a point of emphasis either at my elementary school or perhaps in the broader teaching world because they all did it to the point that I think about it, briefly, almost every time I pick up something with which to write. Maybe someone knows what that was all about, but I've survived to tell you that my improper pencil grip hasn't hurt my prospects in any discernible way.
I remember a similar thing going on with scissors.
We give the kids lots of practice with scissors. There are nearly always freely accessible collections of them available around the room, but we only "instruct" them if they seem to be getting frustrated with their lack of success.
Lately, our Pre-3 class has been giving the play dough scissors a work out, for instance, snipping away with their various techniques. They've been available all year, but have only recently become a trend. I wonder who was the lone nut who first tried them out, and I'm even more curious which of them was the first follower, but whatever the case, it's been a certifiable movement. (You know, ever since coming across that Derek Sivers video, I been seeing the lone nut/first follower phenomenon everywhere.)
Still, I sometimes wonder as I watch a child fiddling around with her scissors, if I'm doing a disservice by not manipulating her hands into the proper position. At some point, I know they're all going to switch to a one-handed method if only because it's really hard to cut a piece of paper on your own without using one hand to hold it in place, but I've sent more than one kid off to kindergarten with a serviceable, but oddball one-handed technique where I'm pretty sure they get corrected. Should I be "intervening" earlier?
What would my first grade teacher Miss McCutcheon say?
After all, you know, it is possible that I've come as far as I have in life despite my improper pencil grip. Who knows where I'd be today if I could have only managed that?