The art of cursive
If any of my grade school teachers were around, this column would shock them: I really believe that cursive writing should continue to be taught in grade school.
When I was young I was an outspoken critic of writing class, and sometimes my comments landed me in hot water.
I will be the first to admit that my handwriting was always bad. Actually, deplorable would be a better term to describe it. While most had a tough time deciphering it, I had no trouble reading what I had written. I had an employee who once described it as looking like a chicken had walked through a pool of ink and wandered around a sheet of paper.
Actually I have almost totally used typing in my career. I cannot remember the last time I used cursive writing other than taking notes at governmental meetings when I was in the newspaper business. It appears that future generations will be using laptops or phones to take notes.
Really I think that it is a great way to keep track of meetings or classes, yet I still believe that kids should learn the basics of cursive writing. Almost all notes I receive from younger people are hand printed. It would seem that cursive writing has been dying for a long time.
The Kansas Board of Education recently took up the issue and finally said though it could not require the teaching of handwriting, it “strongly recommended it.” I have to say that I agree to a point. I really believe that cursive writing is important to know, although there is little doubt in my mind that it will be rarely used. It is simply a skill that it doesn’t hurt to master. With that said, I do not believe that there should be the emphasis on it that there was when I was young.
I read that one study said using a pen and paper permitted a more continuous flow of thoughts. In my case, I have to disagree, I frankly have a writers’ block unless I’m sitting behind a keyboard. There are many other benefits according to experts, and again I generally disagree. I can memorize a speech as quickly by typing it as I could by composing it using longhand. I really believe that it all comes down to the individual and the discipline that works best for him or her.
It is interesting that the history of cursive or connected letters form of writing dates back to the Romans. The use of lower case letters appeared in the fifth century. In the eighth century, English monks were given the challenge of standardizing handwriting. The explosion of learning in the Renaissance made handwriting more important and early books were reproduced by hand.
By the 1700s, handwriting was a skilled profession. Governments used professional penmen to copy all legal documents. I have read that this is the case with some of our most valued documents. Slowly over the years the use of moveable type and the advent of the printing trade began to slowly relegate professional handwriting to obsolescence.
Yes, I think that it is a good idea for young people to learn cursive writing, however with ever advancing technology I can see it fading away to be regarded as a skill from a bygone era.