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Signature Writing

Connie Moore

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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 in cursive.

I’ll write up my thoughts on a computer instead, 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 or the worldwide web. It will be digitally transferred to the screen you’re looking at now.

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 — as the keyboard is the modern, eco-friendly way to communicate — children are not being taught the cursive writing that used to establish 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 hand-eye coordination and dexterity. It links words to words and ideas to context with soft, easy, graceful loops of the pen.

Writing means what you write is yours down to your cursive signature. It is not on a machine, not out in some cloud somewhere waiting to be extracted by iPads, 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.

It seems to me that another thing that went out at the same time as cursive was strict spelling. Too many teachers don’t seem to 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. Does this means the story writer, the editor, the college professor grading essays, the librarian, and anyone and any profession that rests on words and written communications is doomed? Even if they are able to read the shortcuts or decipher the message, 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, or the desire for less of it. Today’s world — because of ever-faster technology and the corporate hype that everyone needs and wants to go at breakneck speeds — seems to send students along at miles per hour that give little opportunity for contemplation. Slower thoughts can lead to better decisions, which can prevent mistakes. That may be my most important reason that I wish cursive writing was brought back.

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. 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 a 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.


Have an opinion on this topic? Write Connie at Box 61, Medway, OH 45341 Comments may be compiled into a follow-up story.