One common lament from my schoolteachers to my school teacher mother while growing up was my poor handwriting. Cursive handwriting, as I recall from my “back in the day” dotage, started around the second grade with Miss Carol Kreymeyer at Trinity Lutheran School in San Angelo, Texas.
Her critical judgement of my penmanship likely started a contrarian mindset that lasted through those “formative” years. (Mary Crowley Lea, a high school junior and senior English teacher in Marshall, Texas, the exception.) Digressing, as Mrs. Lea would say.
Cursive, I see from reading the Dallas Morning News, is making a comeback. It’s one of mankind’s oldest human technologies — the looping of letters together to form thoughts and sentences. With modern technology, cursive fell out of favor, replaced by keyboards and pads and smart phones. Cursive writing sank further, too, when Common Core curriculum standards no longer required it in public schools.
Yet, it’s coming back. Alabama and Louisiana, two beacons of aspirant public education (jes’ kidding), passed laws last year mandating its return. That means 14 states, including the large, bi-lingual population of Texas, will require proficiency in handwriting. New York public schools have issued handbooks to teachers explaining the virtues of cursive writing — sentence construction and spelling among them. It also enables students to master the understanding of handwriting, like the reading of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Cursive will not completely disappear, said the News report, because it is too ingrained in culture. Yet, if good handwriting isn’t encouraged and taught — and that’s the key word, good handwriting — it’ll be illegible script and useless.
I’ve recently started re-reading some of my mother’s letters and noted her florid style. Mrs. Lea’s daughter a few years ago after her death gave me some of her books that she owned and used in the classroom over a career of 50-plus years of shaping young minds. I’ve enjoyed reading her notes on the edges, also in cursive and easily understandable. I’m a fairly regular sender of notes and my handwriting, still lousy after all those years removed from Miss Kreymeyer’s class, can make a point, though not always legible. Essentially, it’s a stew of cursive and block letters.
When we get letters to the editor here at the Press, we can tell before confirming authorship they are of an older generation, likely taught how to make their p’s and q’s distinctive, the point well made.
“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”
— Edna Buchanan, American journalist, novelist