A recent ABC News report suggested that cursive handwriting is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Students rarely use or practice this once standard form of communication. In fact, one high school principal suggested that cursive may become a skill students must learn outside of the classroom because schools are focused on “real-world” job related skills involving technology.
Even signatures, as important as they are, may not necessarily have to be in the form of cursive. A sales manager at a credit union opined that the lack of a cursive signature isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. The individual’s mark may simply be a dot or an X, and it can be captured electronically.
However, not everyone is willing to abandon this basic building block of education. Lawmakers in Concord, N.H. passed a bill requiring public schools to continue teaching cursive. The bill’s sponsor advised teaching cursive will allow students the ability to read historical documents, such as those created by our founding fathers.
“It’s the last form of personalized communication,” said Neal S. Frank, owner of Santa Fe Pens in New Mexico.With passion and self-interest, Frank is teaming up with local calligraphy and cursive teacher Sherry Bishop to revive the art of good penmanship.
“It is self-expression,” agrees Bishop, who teaches at one of the few local schools that still requires learning cursive, the Santa Fe Waldorf School. “We can’t get much closer to the heart than true handwriting.”
For Frank and Bishop, cursive is about more than good penmanship.“There’s been a couple of studies that show learning cursive triggers the brain on how to learn,” says Frank, adding that “there may be a correlation between not learning cursive and the fact that we [the US] are falling behind the rest of the world.”
Bishop adds that practicing cursive and handwriting improves fine motor skills and head-heart-hands coordination.“It’s this beautiful mediation, and there’s this rhythm that gets the body in sync,” she says. “It’s just me and the person I’m sending the letter to–it’s just this beautiful, private conversation.”
I don’t know about you, but when something wonderful, or perhaps sad, occurs in my life, and someone sends me a handwritten note, there’s no better feeling. It’s much better than a commercially produced card with some stranger’s sentiments printed inside. The personalization and concern conveyed by a handwritten card is something to be treasured for a lifetime.
I encourage my family to communicate using cursive whenever they can. It’s a beautiful form of expression that should not be pushed aside for the sake of technology.