By: Roshanda Pratt
I’ve been told that I have good penmanship. I should, after spending hours in my elementary years crafting the spelling of a very long name – 16 letters to be exact! I am from the old school. No smart board, just chalkboards where teachers had to draw the lines. No Internet, just the Encyclopedia Britannica. And no iPads, just old-fashioned, khaki-colored paper to practice writing your name. I come from the simpler times in education. Wow! I sound like my parents. I should probably tell you I owned Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. (For all my 90s babies, records are what came before CD’s.)
In my generation, handwriting was important. It was mandatory. Recently, there is a lot of talk about eliminating cursive writing from the curriculum while still teaching children keyboard proficiency. In South Carolina, lawmakers are trying to ink a bill that would call for instruction in cursive writing. Surprisingly, people want to know why?
As a parent, I very much want my children to learn cursive handwriting. In the adult world we are told to print and sign our name. Your signature is your own, unique blueprint – your identification. Have you ever looked at how people sign their name? Some use big loopy letters, while others scribble or use chicken scratch. However you do it, it’s yours and no one can mimic it, no matter how much they may try. Printing your name is simple (although we could probably debate that by looking at how some people write) while cursive handwriting requires a skill, a discipline. It shows a certain sophistication and maturity. I believe that to eradicate this skill or tradition from our children is to deny our children that unique identification.
I remember the day my teacher commended me for finally connecting my letters in my cursive handwriting. You would have thought I just signed the Declaration of Independence. But in my young mind it felt like independence. I was finally leaving the kiddie world (at least in my mind of handwriting) and joining the ranks of the “professional” adults of the world. I often think about that teacher when signing my name. Although I receive compliments on my handwriting, my former teacher’s “rules” for writing script (as we called it) still ring in my mind decades later.
Now, will cursive writing make your child a better person overall? No, that is not my argument. But I do, think it will make them more disciplined in their work, and will possibly even give them a greater respect of their own name. Often times we rid society of traditions just because the times are changing. Traditions still have a place in our progressive society, in the proper perspective. No one can seem to give me a good reason on why we should cross off cursive writing from the classroom dynamics. I say teach it and leave it up to the child to continue in its tradition once he or she gets older.
That’s what I think. I want to hear from you? Cursive or print – which do you prefer? And do you think schools should do away with teaching cursive?