If you are one of the select group of readers of this blog with whom I've exchanged handwritten letters, you are already familiar with my style of handwriting...it's sort of a mutated version of the elegant Palmer Method script drilled into me by the nuns at my grade school many years ago:
Nice, isn't it? Of course, my handwriting today doesn't always look too much like that, at least not after the first few lines of a letter when I tend to rush more and get sloppy. Of my fellow bloggers with whom I have exchanged letters, the neatest (or, at least, most elegant) cursive writing belongs to the Green Canary, with Amanda not far behind. Andrea and Fiona have nice cursive writing also. John's handwriting is perfectly legible, but not as neat and tidy as that of the ladies, and Mike's ... well ... since Mike writes in invisible ink, it's hard to tell just how legible his handwriting is.
Okay, I wrote all that so that I could set up this topic about whether or not cursive writing should be taught in schools.
In the September issue of the Costco Connection magazine (which you receive if you are one of those folks like us who purchase things in huge bulk at the Costco warehouse stores), there is an interesting discussion in the "Informed Debate" section titled "Should Students Still Be Taught Cursive Writing?" You can read it online here, and there are also links to other articles on the topic.
The arguments against teaching cursive seem to center on these: it's a useless skill at a time when everything is typed on a keyboard, the skills of fine motor control that come with cursive writing can be taught in more efficient ways, and time spent in learning cursive can be better applied to improving reading skills. Arguments in favor of teaching cursive include: teaching focus and attention to detail, improving fine motor skills, and helping connect the written word to the spoken via phonics.
As you all already know, I'm a great fan of the written word. I love sending and receiving handwritten letters (although I don't send as many as I used to because it takes so long to write the sort of letters I enjoy writing and receiving). There is nothing quite like the thrill of holding a handwritten letter in your hand and knowing as you read that the same document was held in the hand of your correspondent ... there's a personal connection there that an e-mail, a tweet, or a typewritten letter just can't match.
And knowing cursive writing is more important than just for the ability to write letters, too. Although I am able to poke out short reminders and shopping lists on my trusty iPhone, I find it faster and easier to just write them down in good old ink on whatever paper is available. I have piles of notebooks and scratch pads to catch random doodles and thoughts. If nothing else, I'll still be able to read those handwritten notes if the electricity goes out or the batteries die.
I personally think it would be a tragedy to stop teaching cursive writing in schools. While it's true that keyboarding skills are important in an age when everything is done electronically, there's a lot to be said for having the skill to sit down and thoughtfully compose and write by hand. Even allowing for the fact that I'm a traditionalist, I think that elegant (or, at least, legible) cursive writing is a skill that says a lot about us and the things we value.
So join me in resisting the move to eliminate the teaching of cursive in our schools. And if you want to see just what ol' Bilbo's handwriting looks like, e-mail me your snail mail address and I will write you your own personal letter to compete with all the bills and junk mail that fill your unhappy mailbox every day.
Have a good day. Write someone a letter. More thoughts tomorrow.