John Hancock was known for signing the Declaration of Independence in a bold and stylish way, so much so, that his name has gone down in history and become synonymous with the word signature. We may take our signatures for granted, but if you think about it, it’s a unique part of ourselves and our identities. Your signed name is a symbol of your approval. When you buy a house, get your driver’s license, get married, sign a petition, so many important things, you sign your cursive name.
As we move farther and farther into the race of techifying everything we do, 45 states have moved towards adopting national curriculum guidelines set for 2014 in English and math that do not include cursive handwriting, but require proficiency in computer keyboarding by the time pupils exit elementary school instead. Props to teaching young kids about technology, boo to the end of cursive writing. With state tests at the top of the docket, Frederick Douglass is rolling over in his grave right now horrified that we just don’t have time to teach our kids cursive writing anymore. He, like many others, did everything they could to learn how to sign their names and be able to read and write instead of scratching down an “X” on the dotted line, and today we are actually writing curriculum guidelines that are making our population more illiterate. On purpose. Not to mention the benefits the actual act of writing cursive has on children’s development of fine motor skills and aids in the process of learning how to spell by studying the flowing letter combinations. This is something I’d imagine happening on the Buy N Large Luxury Cruise from Wall-E. It’s another step in the dumfication of our children by letting them rely on the shortcuts of technology to do everything for them. We can autocorrect and GPS our way out of anything, but god forbid we are forced to be without our smart devices that magically do everything for us for any period of time, because we won’t be equipped with the ability to spell words without the help of a machine or to have the ability to read a map. And pretty soon, we just won’t sign our names in cursive anymore.
And it’s not just the fact that we will say goodbye to the traditional curled joined letters, but we’ll say goodbye to people who can actually read the Declaration of Independence, The Gettysburg Address and Grandma’s Christmas Cards. Doctor’s prescriptions and contracts will someday cease to actually be signed with a pen. Newsflash educators.. I didn’t think I’d have to be the one to spell it out for you. Literally. But, Kids brains do not have a data limit. I challenge you to fill them up. It pains me to think we have to pick and choose things not to teach our children because there’s not enough time or whatever in the school year to teach kids simple basic skills, that we still use. It’s not like kids are not capable of learning and learning, and learning more, but we still cant figure out where to place our priorities in education while we continuously limit their knowledge because of budget cuts.
It’s true that we are veering away from cursive writing and letter writing as a whole. I can not deny or stop this. Many stores no longer require you to sign for small credit card transactions, and writing checks are becoming a thing of the past. But to completely give up on an intricate part of our history when it’s not even completely dead yet, is premature and lazy.
Those who know how to read and write the script take it for granted, but a few weeks ago while I was reading a letter written in cursive, My son (7) who is an avid reader, tried looking at the paper and couldn’t read a word. He asked me what it said, while to me I could read it as plain as day. I just can’t imagine that he may possibly never learn how to read cursive and won’t be able to read documents and letters written in our own language as if they were written in hieroglyphics. As one who has a history degree, I shudder to think of the historical implications this has for a new generation of future scholars who won’t be able to decipher primary sources written, not thousands of years ago, but mere decades before.
I also feel strongly that cuts like these will place an even wider gap between kids that attend public schools and privately educated students. Public schools are eliminating skills that will cause students, when they reach college without the knowledge of cursive writing (or let’s face it, any number of skills that are being cut), to fall behind those who may have learned the skill in charter schools or private institutions. Another important aspect of this problem is that scientists have spoken about the benefits of learning a second language at a young age, and the neurological benefits it has on a child’s brain by increasing the grey matter (brain tissue essential to processing information). Cursive writing isn’t exactly a completely different language, but the more skills like this that we teach children, the more it benefits their brain function and capacity.
What do you think? Should we let skills like cursive writing die because it’s not as commonly used as it once was, or are we making a grave mistake?