Cursive writing has been taught in public schools for well over a century. With digital technology, it is being used less and is no longer taught in some schools.
My fondest memory of cursive writing starts with shopping for a Big Chief writing tablet. The paper inside was gray and smooth, with green lines beckoning to be marked upon. I took my tablet to kindergarten, and I would sit apart from the other kids learning to make swoopy letters instead of block ones. I had pages of my name in cursive: Amy. Amy in big swooping letters, Amy in crayon, in pencil, in marker. I felt very special being allowed to write cursive when my peers were not. It was a mark of achievement writing well and in cursive, and I remember vividly having a piece of my handwriting displayed on the cork-board in school with a star sticker on it.
I kept a hand-written journal from ages 15 to 26. Stumbling onto it a few months ago, one of the first things I noticed was the shifting styles of cursive I played with over those years. Playful curlicues, sophisticated sloping, rebellious uprights, so many different personalities on display just through the writing. It made me realize how much of me is missing when I choose to type rather than write. I must admit that my cursive writing has taken on a rather perfunctory style as of late. When I do write in cursive, there is no playfulness, it seems all business. I do miss writing in cursive as a mark of personal style.
Shock of all shocks when my sons began elementary school to learn they weren’t going to be taught cursive. The rationale the teachers gave for not teaching cursive wasn’t very persuasive: something to the effect of cursive being irrelevant or not a skill in high demand. I remember being concerned my kids wouldn’t be able to read cursive writing, and that has turned out to be somewhat the case. But a more egregious problem comes from their inability to form a unique signature for signing important documents. My nineteen-year-old uses a printed form of his name in that regard, and I must admit, a small part of me cringes each time he needs to sign anything.
It isn’t that I don’t want the world to move on, but cursive writing allows an intimate connection to the written word that texting, typing, and printing don’t. The advent of email, instant messaging, text, Twitter, Instagram, and others, have certainly curtailed the written word. There is far less writing happening in general. But, I am excited to see an upswing in journaling recently that emphasizes beautiful cursive hand-writing, so my hopes are buoyed. I myself am inspired to practice my own handwriting after these reminiscences!
Did you learn to write in cursive? Should we still teach cursive in elementary schools?