(Spellcheck this Slate)
If I could, I would write you this by hand. But, the world has changed greatly since I went to school and learned how to write cursive. So, there is this block type on newsprint that will have to do.
I’ll write up my thoughts on a computer, letting my eyes glare at the white screen instead of my hands touching paper and pen. I’ll let the inner workings of the machine spell check it all and send it by email. It will be digitally transferred to become this newspaper. Some may never even hold this newspaper. They’ll read it on a white screen, in block type.
Is it okay for things to be this way? Conservationists say yes, it saves trees, which I can’t argue with and will even applaud. But along the way, the particular skill of writing in cursive has been lost.
A recent conversation with a friend confirmed my suspicion that even as the keyboard is the modern, eco-friendly way to communicate, children are not being taught the cursive writing course that early on established communications earth wide.
It’s been tested and written about for years that cursive writing enables and promotes the brain to greater and deeper abilities. It promotes eye-hand coordination and dexterity. It links words to words and ideas to context with soft, easy, graceful loops of the pen.
Cursive writing means what you write is yours. Down to your signature. It is not on a machine, not out in some cloud somewhere, waiting to be extracted by iPad, smartphones and the like. It is yours and you can build with it, sooth frayed nerves with it, explore and compose thoughts with it, build language skills with it and so much more.
Another thing that went out with the end of cursive was spelling. Many teachers don’t care how a student spells, as long as the message can be deciphered. Texting has one-letter shortcuts that halt communication with those not familiar with this new language. Therein also are doomed the story writer, the editor, the college professor grading essays, the librarian and anyone and any profession that rests on words, thoughts, written communications. Oh, they might be able to read the shortcuts or decipher the message, but do they get the whole message, the whole story, the feelings and emotions behind the words?
Another argument for cursive writing has to do with speed. Today’s world, because of ever faster technology and the corporate world’s hype that everyone needs and wants to go at breakneck speeds, sends students along at miles per hour that give no opportunity for contemplation, for slower thoughts that can lead to better decisions which can prevent mistakes. That may be the most important reason to bring back cursive writing.
In looking at an 1898 copy of our Bethel Township Manual of Public Schools, I found some very pointed instructions. It was quite refreshing to see basic reading, writing and spelling guidelines spelled out for teachers. It did not include any computer programs, digital graphics or games to enhance the learning experience. No phony means by which one could get through the course such as extra credits for knowing Friday night’s football game scores. (Yes, sad to say, I’ve seen that utilized.)
First Year Language included just four things: McGuffey’s New Reading Chart, blackboard, teacher and slate. After specific directions, the piece states: “From the first, the teacher should exercise care that the reading from the blackboards, slates and printed page should take on the character of easy and graceful conversation.”
That is what cursive writing can do for the message-bring about an easy and graceful page of thought.
So, if you want to find a creative way of communicating, an elegant way of speaking your mind, a brain-boosting way to better spelling and reading, find a pen and paper. Put your brain and heart into it and let the letters flow.