Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is Cursive writing a dying art...

Image of a modern fountain pen writing in curs...Image via Wikipedia

    I heard a story on the news the other day and it got me thinking.  It was survey of incoming college freshmen this year.  It seems that the majority of them do not know how to write in cursive.  The folks that do college entry test say that 85% of the students tested now print their essays.
   Is cursive writing dying out?  Is it soon to go the way of the Dodo bird?  Something only seen in museums.

Dodo reconstruction (Raphus cucullatus) reflec...Image via Wikipedia

  I remember when I went to school learning how to write using a Big Chief tablet and a black jumbo pencil.  I could not wait to learn to write in cursive.
Why because all the grown ups wrote in cursive, and it was like a secret code.  If it was important like a letter or postcard it was in cursive writing.  These things had to be read to me.  How did I know there wasn't a secret the grown ups were keeping from me.  Kind of like when they would spell words they didn't want me to understand.  What kind of secrets would be revealed when I could read the code for myself?
   I concentrated so hard on learning those letters.  After all I was on a mission to learn the secrets of the adults.  When I could read and write in cursive I found out that apparently most of the adults didn't take the same class that I did.  Oh there were similarities in their cursive writing and what I learned but the adults each had their own way of writing.  It made it a little harder to read, but I made it out.
   What secrets did the writing reveal... nothing.  They would write letters about what we did, how much they missed each other and things like that.  But at least I could now read for myself what they wrote.  I no longer had to depend on others to read the letters from Grandma to me. 
   I later learned everyone develops their own way to write.  Your own personalty shaped your formation of the letters.  Your way of writing becomes so much a part of yourself, that it revealed more about you than you knew.  Reading and interpreting writing is what a handwriting analyst does everyday.  There are volumes written about it.
   But if cursive writing dies out who will read those volumes of information and what will become of our written history.  Most of the letters and documents that make up our past are written in cursive, The Deceleration of Independence,  The Constitution and most every important document from our forefathers.  Not to mention all the personal letters from people like Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain and from your great grandfather to your great grandmother during the war.  Only a lucky few would still be able to read and enjoy these writings in their original form.
   Will future generations come back full circle to were we started when we were children?  Will they have to depend on others to read the code written down in the letters, and hope that nothing gets left out?  That in itself should be reason enough to continue to teach and learn cursive writing.
   But then I have always loved a mystery and wanted to see everything for myself.  Maybe, just maybe there is a hidden code in those letters.  Do you really want someone else to read and discover it before you do?

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