I learned something disturbing, just recently, from a friend of mine who works in a government agency. My friend told me of an intern they had in their office recently who was unable to read cursive writing. The intern explained that cursive is no longer taught in the public schools. Therefore, she could neither write in cursive, nor read other people's cursive! She was asked how she signed her papers in school and she reportedly said the students were instructed to print their signature.
Now… think about this for a moment. In my opinion, cursive “writing” is another skill of Ladies and Gentlemen, much as the learning of Latin was as late as 5, or even 4, decades ago, which has now been tossed overboard. It was one of the most used skills I learned as a student. It had a direct bearing on my life after my formal schooling ended. (My “informal schooling” has never ended.)
We have become a crass, unpolished, disrespectful, bunch of boobs, we Americans, and it is a damned shame!
Cursive writing is an art form. No two people’s cursive offerings are alike. Cursive is a window into the writer’s personality. It reflects his/her, mood at the time the writer scribbles his missive onto the chosen parchment. I stand by my pronouncement that cursive is an art form. It most certainly is!
I have a signature like no other. I worked at it for years to get it just so. It was to reflect me. I write in bold strokes, in sweeping loops and swirls, and heavy in ink. I don’t know what that says about me, but I take pride in my signature.
For years I had to sign affidavits, by the batches, once every month. I created a signature that was mine and mine alone. I wanted a signature that was not easily copied. It didn’t matter that others could not make out what it was. It was mine and I’d recognize it at a mile’s distance. Even more important, I’d also recognize, instantly, any attempt to forge my signature.
Back to the need for cursive. If, indeed, cursive is no longer taught, we have lost another touch of class. Lord knows we Americans do not need to lose any more “class”. I suppose that is one reason I am attracted to the 19th century. Their “informal” was so far above our modern “formal” as to be absurd! But, they could express themselves in such flowing phrases as to be pure poetry.
I once read a letter written by a Confederate officer in command of troops who were preparing to attack a Union position the following morning. The letter was to the Union officer. The Confederate general read the Union general the riot act… but he did it in such flowery language that it was a pleasure to read. There was no doubt of the threat expressed in the letter. But, again, it was a pleasure to read.
Seems to me, that cursive almost forces the writer to take careful note of what he/she is saying, or trying to say, as the pen moves across the page. A simple note written in your hand to a friend, these days, is a treasure. The writer is sharing a part of himself or herself with the recipient of the note, or letter, as the case may be.
No, cursive is most definitely needed. If our public school systems have, indeed, chosen to stop teaching it, then they (most certainly) should reconsider and begin, with all haste, to teach our young how to demonstrate “a little class” with the simple act of writing… not printing… writing… in cursive.
The personal touch is no longer valued in American culture. Cursive was one of the last threads by which our culture was hanging over the dark pit of the impersonal.
Ok, so whether or not our students can write in cursive is NOT as important as who the next President to the US will be, it is far more important to who we Americans are, and who, and what, we are becoming. The loss of this art form is testament to the decay at work in our society. We have managed to dumb down our civilization to the lowest common denominator, and yet we continue to dumb down even more! This is frightening… truly frightening.
© Longstreet, 2008