Saturday, January 19, 2013
There is a debate going on about whether or not cursive handwriting should continue to be taught in schools. Some teachers say that knowing how to type is more important these days. Okay – I understand that. At times, I am a “mad texter” myself. I have always loved to type, and I do love the email! But I do hope the teaching of cursive will not be discarded. I believe penmanship is something that is part of our identity. The way our handwriting looks tells a story about us – how we go about doing things….
In elementary school, just learning to write in cursive, we called it REAL writing. If the teacher wanted sentences, a paragraph, or an essay, the question always came, “Do you want it in “real writing”?
I can remember the handwriting of some of my school chums from so many years ago! I watched my left-handed friend hunched over her desk, carefully copying something from a textbook. I was mesmerized by the careful movement and the perfect letters that came out of the awkward way she held her hand and pencil. And the way the little boy I had a crush on crunched up his face as he wrote. Looking over at his paper, I fancied I could see his facial expression in his handwriting! When I helped the teacher, I knew whose test paper I held, without looking at the name.
Oh how I loved to watch my husband write his name! The movements were as unique as he was. The handwriting of my children makes me happy! I remember my Mother’s small neat script…my Father’s scrawl. I remember the handwriting of some of my teachers on the blackboard. One teacher stood very close to the board and wrote hard and slowly - as though the chalk were going to jump out of his hand at any moment. Then he went back to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s as a final job. He performed this task as though he were mad at the letters for needing something extra. Another teacher wrote with a flourish and used lots of exclamation points after her flowing writing. The handwriting style said so much about who they were…
I recently helped some elderly people shop for groceries. I watched, as each person slowly and carefully signed their name in the electronic box at the check-out counter – in cursive. I sensed that they wanted to write their names perfectly – it was as if they were positive their signature would be seen by everyone. “This is who I am,” their slow, spidery, crawling penmanship said to the electronic box on the counter.
I love to write letters and receive letters. But what is a handwritten letter unless it is in “real writing”?
What will happen if they stop teaching cursive writing in public schools? Will this technique only be taught in college under a “Special Studies” curriculum? Will we slowly become a culture that uses only electronic devices to communicate? (Gee – I think I already know the answer to that.)
Will the love notes that I used to put in my husband’s lunch bag be unearthed and put in a museum someday, as a rare item – perhaps called a hieroglyphic? (Uh – I hope not….blush)
Cursive penmanship makes me happy! Perhaps something in real writing will be in the mailbox today!