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The Question of Cursive

Ah, penmanship; the beauty of graceful handwriting.  It is a dying art? Have computers, emails and online bill pay made it a waste of time?  Were those hours I spent in grade school perfecting the flawless F and honing every O all for naught?  Oh, I hope not.

The debate is out there that learning cursive is a waste of time, time that some teachers feel would be better suited to teaching technology rather that a “fancy script no one will ever use.” More hands today hold an iPad than a pen, anyway, they argue.

I will not disagree that times change and so do learning tools.  I probably scoffed at the inkwell and quill pen my parents wrote with.  My grandchildren would laugh if they found out about the abacus I used in the second grade.

There are those that say cursive is outdated and that content is more important than form.  Others say learning cursive makes students more proficient at reading and increases their mental skills.  Both sides of the issue are being weighed by every state in the union as educators reject or rally round the cursive cause.

But for me, cursive is more than just being able to write legibly with pen on paper. I remember so well practicing my letters as a child.  I would work until each one had the textbook curve, the perfect height and just the right amount of drop below the line. The letters had to join together with impeccable spacing.  I worked hard and took satisfaction in making that happen every time, especially on my name.

I was somewhat thankful for my parents’ wisdom in giving me my name.  First and last, it was less complicated than some of my friends.  It all stayed above the line.  My father actually said he named his children so none of the letters in our names dropped below the line when written in cursive.  The one exception is my youngest sister.  Her name, Nancy, drops down at the end, which again my father said was on purpose to more or less put an exclamation point at the tail end of his family.

To read more of this story, pick up a copy of this week’s Leader.


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