Friday, February 8, 2013

Cursive


I record drafts of poem, essay, and prose in hardcover, lined, journal books. I write in a fluid, cursive longhand with a fountain pen. The drafts are streams of consciousness, but not always. Sometimes, an observation, a new-found word, or a newspaper article triggers the flow of inked words. I return to these pieces and cross out, add to, or scrawl on whatever white space remains on the page. I become satisfied that substance is building, and traipse over to my computer. There the clicking and the clacking of transcription takes place. It becomes more permanent.

     I have three-and-a-half journals filled with variations on various themes. They are shelved when there aren't any pages left to fill, waiting for my jottings to be further transferred to my computer.


     What will happen to these journals? Will anyone want them? The journals are, after all, written in cursive longhand with a fountain pen whose ink will bleed across words if spilled upon. What if that future someone doesn't know how to read handwriting? Doesn't understand the four keys to legibility: letter size, shape, slant, and spacing? And, gasp! what if they construe the writing as illegible? As hieroglyphics?

     There is a declining emphasis on handwriting in schools. Some teachers don't know how to teach penmanship, others emphasize content over style. Many students learn to print, but do not learn how to join scripted letters. Emphasis is placed on type recognition. Cursive is an option. Educators don't know how to fit handwriting into loaded curriculums. State legislators and Boards of Education are, too, caught up in the discussion. So are students, the recipients of learning to write in script.

     In a front-page article dated January 31, 2013, Wall Street Journal journalist Valerie Bauerlein headlined this topic "The New Script for Teaching Handwriting Is No Script at All." It was chilling to read "that children will no longer be able to read the Declaration of Independence or birthday cards from their parents." Whether it's viewed as an art or communication form, or part of an educational standard, cursive writing is still an invaluable skill as noted in the January 16, 2013, issue of The Week, and blogger, Beverly Rivera, lists even more handwriting benefits.

Did you know John Hancock's birthday (January 23) is designated as National Handwriting Day? Check this out on The History Channel: History.

Do you write in cursive? Do you enjoy receiving written notes in your mailbox? Do you think handwriting is important? Let me know.