By Barbara P. Hendricks
Two recent articles in the Charlotte Observer have addressed the issue of cursive as a part of the elementary school curriculum. School administrators seem to agree that it deserves a place in the elementary school day. A retired UNC-Chapel Hill professor boldly states that "teaching manuscript - or print - handwriting make more sense for the modern world." Another opinion in the O-pinion, the paper's editorial blog, suggests that "if lawmakers are going to start micromanaging what our students must learn, let's require something really useful like, say, Spanish."
That being said, I cast my vote to continue to teach our children how to write in cursive. I realize that we live in a time where text messages, tweets and e-mails are considered the order of the day, but there are enough hours in each day to continue to learn everything that is worth knowing.
Cursive is in this category. We do need to know that the keyboard was not always available and that, at an earlier time, the keyboard was not powered by electricity, but by the force of the human fingers. Imagine that!
Writing as we know it can be traced back to the 15th century and cursive as a word to describe this writing style was first used in the year 1784. The first typewriter (manual) came on the scene in 1867. Prior to that year, census records, military records, real estate transactions were written by hand (yes, cursive).
Handwriting was also designated by two other words which were used as early as the 17th century. One of these words, "longhand" was first used in 1666; the other word, "penmanship" dates back to 1695. Let us not miss the opportunity to continue to teach our children to write in cursive and to include with it a little history as I mentioned above. Children can be eager learners and we need to remember to be passionate about what we are telling them. They are very perceptive and they know very quickly when our hearts are not in what we tell them.
Time spent teaching our children, at school and at home, is never a waste of time. I feel very fortunate to have lived long enough to enjoy the technology that is available today, and I believe that all of us need to master other languages in order to benefit from life in a multicultural society. Technology should not replace everything else, but should be used and respected as an enhancement to other knowledge.
However, I am still glad that I spent a few minutes of each school day following the directions of my teachers as I practiced the writing exercises in my little 9"x4" paperback writing book with the tan cover, and yes - I think the author's last name was Palmer.
About the author:
Mrs. Barbara P. Hendricks is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an educator, a retired school administrator, a linguist teacher, a pragmatist, our blog proof-reader and our church seat partner.