That's drizzle . . . not drivel--

Simply living... in the Pacific Northwest

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lamenting Lost Lettering

So now I read that 41 states now are not requiring students to learn cursive writing to progress in school. It is not included in the No Child Left Behind Common Core States Standards for English. Keyboarding techniques are taught in the primary grades as the standard. Which I get, but....

This has left me with mixed feelings, leaning on the side of lamentation.

How many of us remember third grade: the smell of sharpened pencils and the sound of scratching on newsprint, our teachers encouraging us to stay within the lines. I do---and I'm glad I endured what was, at the time, grueling Palmer discipline for an 8 year-old. It was a graduation of sorts, from immature printing to grown-up writing. It was supposed to allow us to write faster-- not having to lift the pencil or pen for each letter--enabling us to conquer those future essay tests within our limited classtime. We would sign our signature on hundreds of documents, checks and contracts in our adult life. We evolved right there, on paper, Ticonderoga in hand. Is there just no time for this anymore? In the third grade? Really?

There is at least one study of students who learn a new text by handwriting which reveals greater brain activity in the areas which control language comprehension, motor-related processes and speech-associated gestures. This is just icing on the cursive cake.

I love seeing beautiful writing--writing someone has taken time and care to put down on paper. The beautiful sweeping capital letters, the flow from one letter to another. Some women I know--and a few men, my Dad included--have elegant, distinctive cursive writing which you can tell is a result of disciplined learning. It took time to learn and there was pride in accomplishment.

But these fine examples are going by the wayside. I'm afraid the Boomers may be the last Palmer devotees. My daughters boast their ball-and-stick D'Nealian writing methods, one even preens, "I love my all-caps's cute!" Others among their peers state they've printed all their lives and got all A's. What's the big deal?

I could get really cynical and project that one day we'll devolve to the point of not needing writing at all. We'll just circle back to cave writing with pictures. But I do try and keep an open mind. I know we are living in a technological age, and you need to get on board or get out of the way.

But, please, write me a lovely cursive note sometime. Just to show me it's still out there somewhere besides the national archives.


  1. I love cursive script and try to maintain my 'hand' despite the digital age. I would love to see the art of the hand-written letter make a comeback! :)

    Found you again through the 'Down to Earth' link-up :)
    My post is about gardening on my balcony!

    This Good Life

  2. I know what you mean; I love the look of cursive writing and adored learning it as a kid. I especially loved tackling a capital Q. Thank you for posting about something so dear to my heart.

  3. Thank you for commenting, Becky. So...did you form the letter Q as a quasi-giant numeral 2? I remember struggling with that one as well.

    As a student of lettering in college however, I learned how some of these formations evolved. If you look at it one way, a closed "2" is a cursive capital Q---just draw a 2 starting on the baseline. Ball and stick writers simply cross the bottom of an "O." Another evolution.

    Have a great weekend---Kay

  4. I was trying to brush up my script a la Palmer for some Christmas card action but alas you have no samples of punctuation, ampersands etc. Thanks for the samples you do have.