When I started first grade in 1938, my sister had already taught me how to read since she started school a year earlier than I did. I was in a class of 55 students. Since I was bored with coloring and listening to other students learn how to read, I practiced the Parker Penmanship scroll that went across the room above the blackboard. To this day, whenever I see a note from my lifetime dear friend Dolores, I can hardly tell her writing from mine since we both did the same thing. We learned cursive writing.
Cursive writing stood me in good stead throughout my life. By being able to write clearly and quickly, I was able to fill my graduate school bluebook exams with endless prose, prompting one professor to urge me to develop a "more laconic style of writing." I wrote countless letters to my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my girlfriend. I could sign my name clearly and distinctly. I never particularly thought of how much of an advantage clear cursive writing had been throughout my life until the current hoorah over whether teaching cursive writing is just a waste of time. Pupils, in the judgment of the learned and wise, could better spend their time learning something else. But what? Isn't clear writing an attribute of an educated and civil society? Apparently not.
Now, everyone from the age of two writes with their thumbs and prints letters on paper. Attempts at cursive writing are primitive and sloppy in many cases. Now, it seems, we are going back to the middle ages when people wrote "X" to sign their names and have no idea how to write cursive penmanship. More is the pity. Our society is poorer for the inability to read and write cursive language. Thumb twiddling coded messages on smart phones is a mediocre substitute for a handwritten note. Since some education gurus are so fascinated by the idea that students could learn something more important than cursive writing, the process of serious thought translated into worthy prose in pen and ink is a loss to be regretted. A text message or a computer email will always be a poor and inferior substitute to a heartfelt written card or note. And thus the Curmudgeonly Professor has put in his two cents in support of actually learning how to write complete words, complete sentences, and produce pieces of paper that become keepsakes in cedar chests, words that will not vanish into cyberspace with the delete key.