Above the blackboard hung the examples of our second grade handwriting exercise. Alas, my own efforts were never up there with the others. The spiraled "S's and deep peninsulas of f's and g's seemed to elude me. It was a struggle, but eventually I learned to both write and to read the cursive letters. Life continued.
Today, I can still create a passable penmanship when necessary. Many folks, especially family members, can distinguish my handwriting from someone else's. I can also decipher most other folks' handwriting as well. Up to this current generation, most of us had that skill down pretty good.
As specific subject, however, I could see how the cursive method slid down the essentials ladder of things to learn...until it slid right off many school agendas completely. A basic printing is taught, but where is the time devoted to actual cursive? Mostly gone.
This concern came up around the dinner table one Sunday. Some had QUESTIONS, others had ANSWERS. I kept my own thoughts in silent PARENTHESES.
Q. Why does a student say he is "writing" a paper for school when he doesn't really write at all, he "inputs" to a computer and hands it in by "posting" to a teacher? (So now you can't blame the dog for eating your homework--Bowser "deleted" it)
A. The world is more environmentally conscious - less paper, less trees cut down. All our "paperwork" will be "in the cloud."
(Hopefully they won't be doing away with Angel Soft just yet).
Q. So "handwriting" as we know it will soon be unimportant?
A. It is easier to touch a screen than to use pen and paper.
( I have seen flying blurs of thumbs and fingers on electronic devices-why is holding a pen so much harder to do?)
Q. So will children not learn to write their own names?
A. Electronically generated signatures are good for most things- or your fingerprint. Someday microchips will be implanted at birth for identification, then handwriting will be a lost skill. ( A microchip? I'm not a tattoo fan, but it might become my BFF for identification very quickly)
So this may be the oh-too-close future.
The pen might once have been mightier than the sword, but technology has put the pen en garde and now-touche for the old pen...and the cursive handwriting that had flowed so freely from it.
I thought I had the final word: "Ahem: Someday your grandchildren will take a trip to Washington and stand before the Declaration of Independence---what a pity they won't be able to read it."
"Mom, they can take a virtual tour of Washington on whatever new thing is out there, and the Declaration of Independence will be visually reconfigured to-almost anything."
(Dang, maybe I WILL get that tattoo---at least the ink man might still know cursive.)
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