I don't think we can blame the teachers for harping on handwriting because it's part of their job in the early years. I have a daughter will really bad writing and have had my share of teachers complaining. The only comfort is that once they get past P3 or so, as long as the writing is legible, the teachers will have more important things to be concerned about. At most, they will write a comment in the margin, but kids won't lose marks unless the teacher can't read the answers. (And these kids will eventually finish school and move on to computers, then no-one will care about their handwriting unless they decide to become Pr school teachers.)
I am glad it was DS1 who started P1 first, cos he started out with beautiful handwriting. That said, his handwriting is getting worse and worse through the years.
Ds2 is very laissez faire in his way of writing since nursery. I can talk until cows come home and he will still flourish his way of writing. This is probably the first P1 kid I know who can kinda write in cursive. I am just happy he complete his writing exercises.
I'm probably a bad parent but hey, if my kid can link 2 pictures together, I really don't care if he uses a ruler or freehand. I was really shocked when DS1 first came back with a big cross on his homework just because he didn't use a ruler and all the answers were correct.
And I think to my dying day, I will still not geddit why beautiful handwriting is a must because as they progress on, the amount of writing they will have to do will be much more - I rather my kid can finish writing than to have copperplate and not be able to complete. I have only seen one person in my years who could write fast and beautifully (it's really like printed form) - only One. The rest of us can only lapse into horrible writing when it comes to exams.