Some of my fondest childhood memories are the times I spent with my Grandma Stout. Being the only grandchild of her only son meant that the world actually did revolve around me when I came to visit.
We would spend hours together playing board games, talking, shopping — and playing school. My Grandma Stout was a fourth grade teacher for most of her life and when we played school, it was serious business. While I got to sit at her teacher’s desk and pretend to grade papers, my notes all had to have correct spelling, grammar — and perfect handwriting.
I thought it was so much fun to write up “lesson plans” and other activities for my pretend students, but now I see that I was being taught the whole time I was playing teacher. Because of my Grandma Stout’s influence, I have a good cursive handwriting style and an appreciation for the term “practice makes perfect.”
This background in the finer points of long-hand writing is probably what is making me so irate at the nation’s lack of reverence for cursive.
I have been nominally following the national cursive handwriting debate (with mild annoyance) — until I heard that my home state of Indiana will no longer teach the skill in schools starting next fall. I am now fervently following the debate, hoping this atrocity will be overturned.
The majority of states have actually decided to throw out the tradition of teaching cursive handwriting after the skill was omitted from the mandatory curriculum in the National Core Standard. The Core Standards are set by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association and provide a general framework for what students are expected to learn before college.
Thank goodness California did not jump on the anti-cursive bandwagon. In fact California, along with Massachusetts, re-included cursive in its instruction.
For once, the Golden State is standing behind a time-honored tradition.
Cursive handwriting is more than just a tradition, however. It is not only a medium of communication; it is also a very personal way of leaving a mark on the world.
I have a scrapbook at home of letters written by my dad when he was serving in Vietnam and from my grandfather during WW II. While the content of the letters would remain the same if my dad and grandfather had used a typewriter, the personality and historical significance of the letters would be lessened.
I know that many of today’s schools are struggling to teach students the basics they need to succeed in life — and get good scores on mandatory tests — with less money and fewer staff members. But eliminating cursive handwriting is not the answer.
To contact Kristina Hacker, write a long-hand letter and mail it to 138 S. Center St., Turlock, CA 95380.