As one who is a member of the Facebook community, I see a vast array of topics making the reposting loop. Lately, a topic that has been popping up is the use of cursive writing. There are many recent articles about this disappearing form of communication. A good one that I have read his here.
Having gone to school before computers, I learned cursive writing in grade school. Book reports and essays in junior and high school were all written in cursive writing. Typing wasn’t even offered until grades nine or ten, and then it was only an elective. It wasn’t until after I graduated from high school that I took a typing class in the evenings at a local business college.
With all the attention being paid to the loss of cursive writing, not just as part of the school curriculum, but also due to the predominate use of electronic communication, even those of us who were taught cursive are losing the ability to write in the cursive form.
Of course, I am speaking from experience. I predominantly type on my laptop to compose any communication these days.
Even in my personal correspondence, I find I print, rather than use the looping cursive form.
Recently, I read an essay about how a father would write letters to his children at summer camp using cursive with the intent to keep it alive in his family. I was saddened and also gladdened to read that his children were able to read it to a certain extent, but also had to get help from the older camp counselors.
In the last couple years, I have been trying to be more diligent in sending cards and letters in the mail for birthdays, anniversaries and just because. From now on, I am going to dust off my cursive writing skills. I have been working at it recently; any notes for research I make, I am keeping the pen on the paper and curve and loop my way through the sentences. I even bought myself a disposable fountain pen to make the effort easier. I am finding the muscles needed to write in cursive need to be retrained. The muscle memory is still there, but it I realize it is beginning to fade. I still have time to reawaken this practice.
The Palmer Method is a well-established method of learning cursive which I think I will undertake to study. I remember Mom showing me penmanship exercises that she was taught in school, which by the time I was in school in the 1960’s, were no longer taught. Swirls of the pen making circles that started out large and gradually went to small, the goal being even-width strokes and pen control. It looked like a slinky on the page that grew and shrunk with the movement of the pen. The unpracticed hand would produce poorly spaced and overlapping swirls, much like the tangle created when a Slinky was miss-handled. How many of us remember the tangled, never to be recovered from messes that our slinkys ended up being? It was sad. Those toys gave such pleasure, and if one practiced amazing tricks could be done with them. But without practice, those metal coils were cast aside and lost forever.
I am sure there will be many a page of inky swirls that will be discarded over the coming months. Friends near and far will receive letters that will reveal my awkward attempts at my personal cursive revival. I hope in time that they will come to appreciate the effort I have made, not just in actually writing them a letter (another lost art that needs to be revived, but that is a topic for another post), but in the physical beauty of my communication. I have long admired the penmanship that I have come across in old documents, and signatures. It is time to pick up the banner and wave it high.
Who else is with me in bringing cursive back into their personal communication?