Since I’ve been on a letter writing kick in 2015, I’ve been thinking more about cursive handwriting and how something that was once a mainstay elementary school lesson is becoming extinct. Although my cursive handwriting has morphed into a hybrid combination of cursive and print, handwriting and old-fashioned letter writing go hand in hand.
Do you remember the cursive alphabet cards and how they lined the wall of the classroom like a wallpaper border above the chalkboard?
Big Q, little q.
That cursive Q was the strangest letter of all, and I’m certain I never perfected it. But somehow I think trying to form those calligraphy-like letters was an important lesson, a ritual that taught fine motor skills and discipline and patience.
There was a time when cursive handwriting was considered artwork. Look at this beautifully handwritten poem from a pre-civil war autograph book (courtesy of The Graphics Fairy).
I am not an educator, but I’m a parent. A parent of children who learned cursive in the 1990s, and I’m glad they did.
I understand that life has evolved and kids have changed and there is so much to learn and so little time in the classroom. I understand. I’d also like to think there is value to learning cursive writing beyond cursive writing. Perhaps sitting in the classroom practicing that Q over and over is what helps me sit at my desk today and write even when the words aren’t flowing the way I need them to flow. Maybe something as simple as cursive handwriting is the backbone for what follows. Reading. Fine Motor Skills. Hand Eye Coordination. Writing. Critical Thinking.
Don’t we have more important things to do?
We have technology now, which is life-changing and if I had to live one day without my MacBook Air and iPhone, I’d go into sweaty withdrawals. Technology includes fabulous benefits and makes sitting at my desk and typing those cursive words easy. Kids are sharp. They know things. They tell us which apps to download and fix what needs fixing.
Everything comes with a price. I was an economics major and this is basic stuff. Sacrifice one thing to choose another. Trade-offs create opportunity cost. If I choose to waste two hours on Facebook, I’ve sacrificed the opportunity to write a thousand words. And if instead of spending time on Facebook, I had written a thousand words and sold the story for $200, the opportunity cost of wasting time of Facebook is greater than mere time.
In our schools, if we trade-off cursive for more time to learn programming, what are we losing? And vice versa.
I believe we grow up to be the sum of our experiences. And there were plenty of experiences, not only cursive, that I found useless or a waste of my valuable young time. Math word problems, making my bed, going to church, practicing the piano, mowing the grass. If those things had never been part of my life, I would have had tons of time to do something else. What would the opportunity cost have been? Would I be the same person I am today? Something to think about.
Bottom line. Everything we trade-off somehow affects us. Maybe it’s worth it. Maybe not.
What do you think?
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.