I am a fan of writing in script. The dreaded cursive lessons and penmanship of grade school gave way to admiration for my mom’s elegant scribe. I wanted to have my handwriting look like hers. Feminine swoops, powerful loops – I was in awe of how her writing appeared immediately out of her pen.
I started like most school children do: blocky letters from learning to write in print on lined paper gave way to bulbous, clumsy and coarse scribbles, once again on lined paper. Though I recently turned thirty-eight, penmanship and handwriting were skills taught when I was a younger lass. Learning to write and read in script was a major accomplishment. My mom’s lists and letters made sense. The shaky, blocky handwriting of my Gram was no longer a struggle to decipher. Even writing my own assignments for school came easier when pen no longer required lifting between each letter.
So, imagine my horror when I found out from my eldest nephew that learning to write in cursive was no longer taught in schools! No longer taught?! So there was a reason behind seeing signatures of adults that looked to be scribbled by toddlers. Why I was seeing printed names more often than I was boldly stated declarations of identity. Cursive just wasn’t being taught.
The ability to read and write script is a skill that should, and must, be learned. Not only does it appear the American school systems have placed more value on the ability to tackle an opponent or score three-point shots on the court, but they have devalued culture. The teaching of cursive is joining Art Classes, Music Classes and the Dodo bird. While solving Math problems has become over complicated, our culture is being oversimplified to the point of extinction. Soon, the number of school children who will be unable to read the Declaration of Independence in its original state unaided by a translation into Times New Roman will outnumber those who are able to grasp the emotion behind every peak and whorl.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”
Hold! All is not lost! My mom, in her infinite wisdom and forethought, started to teach my nephew and niece to write and read in cursive. Legislators in Tennessee are pushing back against the Common Core Standards and are finding ways to include, even squeeze in, teaching handwriting. Even adults who missed out on learning script are now teaching themselves as they’ve discovered a disconnect in communication between those that can’t and those that can.
And me? Did I ever attain my lofty goal to imitate my mom’s beautiful penmanship? I think I came close, though my writing has it’s own look, a little less elegant, a little more messy – much like the thoughts in my head. Writing in script has serve me well and I continue to use it daily; even the draft for this post was first scrawled out in script.
Carry on Tennessee in your valiant fight to teach handwriting in schools. I am a vocal champion of this skill and salute your efforts.
Do you prefer writing in print or cursive?
If you have children, have they learned or are they learning, to read and write script?