I love longhand writing because there is something wonderful about the aesthetics of well written cursive. I recently learned that many states, including Connecticut, do not require schools to teach writing and reading of cursive anymore. It is a sad commentary on what society deems as important, (a keyboard and screen), and that which is no longer necessary, (a pen and pencil).
Recently I bought a pair of shoes in a store where I used the tip of my finger to sign for my purchase on a tiny hand held computer screen. I could barely read my name, my identifier. It didn’t matter that I had spent hours and hours of my childhood learning to write cursive as beautifully as I could. Does it matter now that today’s children are not taught to write the way their parents and grandparents were taught to write? In our quick world of accuracy and instant communication children are trained to write and think fast by tapping.
My mother and father had beautiful penmanship. When I read the old letters they had written to each other while separated by WWII, I am amazed by the artistic look of each line. In 125 letters there are few misspellings and only one cross-out. Each line, well composed before expressed, was edited by heart and soul, not by spell check and backspace.
As a young girl sitting across the kitchen table from my father, as I did my arithmetic homework, and he paid bills, I disliked what I was doing just as much as he disliked his task. Sometimes when my homework was done, and he had addressed his last envelope, I’d be drawing and he’d be writing a letter. As I struggled to get just the right image, I’d watch as he effortlessly created a message esthetically impressive and emotionally perfect.
Watching his fountain pen race across the page I marveled at how each intricate swirl and line not only created a beautiful picture to look at, but that the drawings, each in their own perfect row created words like love, longing and loss. He always addressed our birthday cards and gift tags; his font was one of pride in making the most of paper, pen and sentiment. Though sometimes difficult to read because it was so elaborate, my father’s writing looked like black lace on a white tablecloth.
My mother’s penmanship, the ‘Palmer Method’ she called it, also a series of lovely lines, was easier to read and more practical looking. She was the list maker for groceries and to-dos. Hers was the hand which wrote the teachers our sick notes and penned notations on the calendar for school events. For Hallmark, my father’s writing would have been the cover of the card, my mother’s, the inside message.
My parents taught me that neat penmanship was as important as an ironed blouse and pressed seams in a pair of slacks.
“If it is a first impression, why not make a good one,” they’d say, “and if it’s not, your words should be at least well groomed.”
If public schools have dress codes, and require civilized conduct, then why not take the time, like many Catholic schools still do, to teach children to present well-groomed handwriting. What does it say about educated adults who can’t write and read cursive? It says that education failed them.
No pen and paper needed, you can contact Carolynn at CP.firstname.lastname@example.org