I have been sharing my essays with readers from all over the world (those happy, happy few). I have made it a point to write pieces that are intended to be humorous. Some are even intended to be informative or thought provoking. I have also intended to write pieces that are family friendly. If a 9 year old child reads my work, I don’t wish for his parents to pull him away because my material is too “adult” in nature. My sister has even commented to me that I self censor my writing. This may be true but I feel I get my point across well enough.
Occasionally in my writing, I may even stand on my proverbial soapbox on a particular issue. Again, the point is to get my thoughts across and generate a laugh at the same time. I would like to address an issue that is really sticking in my craw. The issue of this writing is….well the issue is writing. To be specific, the issue is handwriting. Handwriting has been a talent I have sorely lacked all my life. I have always admired people who so seamlessly let their thoughts flow from their mind to a piece of paper. Legible handwriting has never been a strong suit of mine. As a result, the only thing I write cursively is my signature. If I actually use a pen and paper, I print everything else. Many of my teachers during childhood squinted, changed their eyeglass prescriptions, or shook their heads in disbelief. In spite of my obvious shortcomings in the area of writing, my teachers (and my parents) still insisted that I continue practicing.
This now leads me to an issue that I have found to be absolutely reprehensible. At the current time, some districts in the United States and across the world have decided to remove cursive writing from their curricula. Some other districts, while not removing it altogether, allow students to learn cursive writing AS AN ELECTIVE. That’s right. Cursive writing in some schools will be the same as taking drama, band, or a foreign language (such as written English).
I realize that technology makes it easier for kids growing up these days. I must admit that I am grateful for some of these advances. I have typed many a college paper in my adult years that would have costs my parents a lot of typewriter ribbon from all the editing. Remove the typewriter from the equation and you would have seen a lot of crumpled paper and pencils broken out of frustration. Technology has also helped many kids with learning disabilities to more effectively complete assignments. This is not a bad thing.
Nonetheless, I still question the logic of removing such teaching from kids who do not have the aforementioned disabilities or disorders. While it’s true that I rely on my computer for a lot of things. I know that if my power went out and my computer was not available….
You may scoff and say: “That printed. It’s not cursive”. Touché, I say but the following is also true…..
I agree that it is not the most legible writing in the world. That’s OK. By my own admission, I am very out of practice. I would like to offer however that for a child to learn to do cursive writing there are quite some advantages. First of all, such writing can prove to be a great therapeutic exercise. When one writes in cursive, all the letters in a word are connected. There is less stopping and less less movement of the writing instrument from the surface. This allows much more flow with writing. Such writing also helps to build and improve eye to hand coordination. Also, such writing has a more personal touch if one does it well. This makes things such as greeting cards and thank you letters to appear more “from the heart” and less like a form letter. As I stated previously, I admire people who write their thoughts well with just a pen and paper. If schools refuse to teach this, parents should continue to encourage the practice to their children. I realize it can be a time consuming process. The same can be said for teaching a child how to play baseball, bake a cake, or drive a car. I truly worry that we may become so dependent upon technology that kids will no longer draw in the dirt to plan a play of backyard football because their phone has an app for that. I worry that kids will not acknowledge gifts with a thank you card because their printer is down. I even worry that a kid will stand at the candy counter of a movie theater with a confused look because neither he (nor the kid helping him behind the counter) know how to break a $20 bill for a $19.47 purchase of a 6 ounce box of chocolate covered peanuts and a soda that could fill a cow’s bladder. I believe that technology should be a supplement and aid to a child’s education. It should never replace it.
I shall now step down off my soapbox on this issue (for now). I pray that five years from now, a young adults can use a pen to fill out a job application. I pray that young adults can balance a checkbook without a spreadsheet. I pray that parent’s will have the fronts of their refrigerators will have at least one creation from their child that was actually created with their child’s own hands. If schools and teachers continue to make decisions such as the removal of cursive writing. We may have little recourse other than prayer.
In conclusion, to my parents who insist that I not do my writing homework on the school bus (or math with a pen) and to all my teachers who insisted that I practice to improve my handwriting, I’d like to say…