A goodbye to cursive writing

“Oh, your writing is so pretty!” said my young friend to me recently as I was addressing some envelopes. “My writing isn’t that good.”

She’s a teenager, old enough that she at least knows what cursive writing is and to have had some instruction in it. As I understand it, that will likely soon end, now that cursive writing has been dropped from the Common Core curriculum in our public schools. With 40 of our 50 states adopting the core curriculum, some 80 percent of public schools are phasing out cursive in favor of computer skills.

So the looping letters of flowing script, also known as handwriting, will someday be a thing of the past. Perhaps this has been the direction we’re headed for some time, but it sounds like there is no turning back now.

When one communicates by the keyboard, all the letters on the page look alike. It’s like a snowflake, or a human face. No two are alike. There is no personality to a printed page, not like someone’s handwriting that is unique. During my recent file purging I came across several cards and notes my grandma had written to me, and they made me smile because the writing was just so her.

Even more unusual, I found just one or two cards where my dad had written a line or two or even just his name. Just to see his unique scrawl again meant a lot to me.

It just wouldn’t be the same if those words were typed on a keyboard and printed on a page. Handwriting flows, but words on a page don’t.

Remember practicing your writing in elementary school? And the teacher would give you instruction on making your loops more uniform, the T taller, or maybe the o rounder. Those green cards that showed the perfect cursive form of every letter of the alphabet, capitals and lower case, were lined up on the wall end to end around the classroom as a sample of how students should be writing. As a young student, I recall that sometimes such a task seemed quite daunting to me.

Sure, I understand that cursive writing is something we no longer need in this fast-paced world where we communicate by cell phones and texts and emails and social media and instant messaging. And I understand that our limited school budgets are put to better use teaching a keyboarding course in order to equip today’s students for college and tomorrow’s world.

One article I read on the topic pointed out that one’s handwriting is seen by others much less than it was in the past. Even so, I will miss seeing the distinctive handwriting of my friends and my children. Maybe I’d best save samples of it now while I can.