This week, news came through on how 14 states in my country have made it law that students must learn cursive writing in school. This is coming a good while after an undeclared falling out of the practice, as it suddenly vanished from school curriculums; especially as the latest technology has become utilized in classroom settings. It makes for interesting timing, especially with today’s generation of kids being more accustomed to typing and texting.
As far as arguments go as mentioned in the linked article from ABC News, there are several reasons why it’s wise to keep up this practice. Being able to read cursive writing is one, as all of the documents written by the founding fathers of our country are written in that way. The ability to conjure a proper signature on documents such as tax forms or letters is another. The article states how note-taking is also easier when all the letters are connected together.
Some might see the skill as unnecessary, but I beg to differ. Apart from agreeing with the very plausible reasons named in the article, there’s one more that runs a little deeper than that. People often forget that the physical act of handwriting – regardless of whether it be in cursive or in print – can truly be a gratifying experience. It allows for your words to form visibly before you, in a font that can never be properly mimicked by software such as Microsoft Word and what not. There’s just something satisfying about seeing paragraphs of writing done by your own hand. It’s a wondrous, liberating experience that only those who do it often enough can truly understand. Much like how your fingerprints and eyes can identify who you are, so can your handwriting.
I remember when I first learned handwriting. I was in third grade, which is considered to be the appropriate grade for kids to start learning how to do it. By that age, you already have the hand at print handwriting, and yet you are still young enough to learn another way of writing. I was anticipating it; so much as to where I learned how to write the upper case “L” the summer before (it seemed appropriate, seeing that it is the first letter of both my first and last names). It was a gratifying experience to learn a new way of handwriting, as I anticipated each and every lesson throughout the year. By year’s end, I was completely proficient in cursive handwriting, which is why I was more than a little irritated to find myself, filling out copies of the same handbook for the next two years.
I’m still able to write in cursive just as fluently as I did then, and people are often impressed by the appearance of it when I do. I write cards in cursive, I jot down quotes in my quote books in cursive, I know how to sign my name, I can read cursive writing, etc. It’s another way of self expression through the way I write.
If you’ve been keeping up with my work, then you might know that An Absolute Mind was not my first venture in writing futuristic-set stories. The last chapter of my debut novel, A Moment’s Worth, is set in the future, and it explores the idea of handwriting being a form of self expression, as a young boy pursues the possibility of learning how to do so, in an era where handwriting has long since been abandoned. I felt that it made for an intriguing idea to explore, as well as a good way to bring the novel to an end. It ends on a high note for the boy, as he ventures forward into the future, while still keeping to traditions of the past. In which case, for him, it’s the act of being able to express himself not only in his words, but through his handwriting as well.
While some kids are intrigued by the comeback of cursive writing for reasons other than the one the boy in my novel goes off of, I hope that in time, as this skill is brought back into classrooms (hopefully beyond the 14 states who’ve passed laws in favor of it), they too may come to see just how liberating it is, as a form of self expression. Hopefully, this same sentiment can even be passed along to handwriting in general as well, especially as we go forward into the digital age.
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