Earlier today I read an article about how the practice of teaching cursive is being marginalized into nothingness. At the end of that article were the results of a poll stating that the vast majority of citizens preferred that cursive handwriting still be taught. I am sure that some or most of these people probably had pleasant experiences while learning this torturous art.
For me, learning to write cursive began in the second grade and continued throughout the third. Remembering the penmanship grade from my report cards, I was anything but spectacular. In fact, my penmanship was so atrocious that the teacher would sometimes hold it up as an example of lackluster effort. She obviously ignored the massive blisters on my forefinger and thumb. Not to mention the Band-Aids I was required to wear due to the pain generated by the excessive demands of her and my parents.
Now my mother, who is from one of those old countries that is somehow new again because of one revolution or another, has excellent penmanship. The benefit of a good education under a repressive communist regime. My dad, on the other hand, always printed, his sentences being very brief, usually contained only that one all-important word, NO.
As a child who didn’t regularly follow rules, such as not talking when the teacher was talking or drawing when I should have been writing, I was frequently tasked with writing ‘I will not ____ (insert the offense here). I often had to turn in absurd numbers like 2000 lines and was tasked with 5000 lines several times. I soon found a way to write them quickly and clearly and was usually able complete the assignment by the time I got home. Well, the bus ride was forty minutes, you know.
It soon became apparent that I had the fastest pen in school. Of course you know what happened next, I started earning money. I wish I had what I have today, as far as electronics. Why, I’d scan a sheet of my writing and print them and sell them in bundles. At any rate, I made enough money so I could later throw it away on cassettes and such.
Over time, I found writing in cursive to be so torturous that I began printing in capitals. A friend had showed me how much faster it was, with the additional benefit of being much clearer. After all, my handwriting had deteriorated to the point that I couldn’t read each sentence after completing it.
Now anyone would think that this would lead to medical greatness. After all, doctors have some of the worst penmanship known. But not me. I was too busy wishing that the starship Enterprise would beam me up from this accursed time in which I was living. Plus, I was dead set against any higher learning beyond the sixth grade. If it was good enough for Jethro Bodine, it was good enough for me. Of course I didn’t have a rich uncle and I didn’t think about that until I was in the ninth grade.
Only when I later discovered that girls liked gushy and serious letters written in elegant flowing script did I take my penmanship seriously. Certainly it was that ability to bear down and spend a couple of hours to write a page and a half letter that saw improvement. However, until I met and married my wife a decade later, it all came to naught.
Learning cursive did benefit me, and I realized it every time I have had to read someone else’s poor penmanship. Even now, if I write something in my own poor script, I find that I can easily read it. So yeah, let’s continue to teach cursive in school. But please be more constructive about it than having Bart Simpson write his offense on the board a thousand times.