I recently read that in the U.S., cursive is no longer part of the common core state standards that are followed by 45 of the 50 states. Time devoted to the written word and penmanship has been replaced by building technology skills. Maybe I’m old-fashioned (I’m definitely low tech), but I think it’s sad that writing by hand is now considered passé. Have we evolved to the point where our only handwritten item has become our signature?
Memories in Black and White and Grey
I remember all those years ago, when I first learned how to print. Every few days there was a new letter to be learned, in both lowercase and capitals. We had workbooks with pink and blue lined paper—groupings of 3 lines in fact, to make sure we formed our letters correctly. Then practice, practice, practice. At age 7 or 8 we learned those letters all over again, but this time in cursive, still in pencil, those big fat pencils—do you remember? I can’t forget—those pencils gave me a large bump on my middle finger that still remains to this day. Seems I was grasping the pencil too tightly.
Pretty soon we were in pursuit of our next goal—writing in ink. Graduating from pencil to pen was reserved for the neatest writers in class–penmanship, they called it. Those of us chosen by the teacher to write in ink felt privileged and, oh so grownup.
Old Habits Die Hard
I am the product of my generation. I recall preparing school assignments, book reports and essays. The method was always the same–first, I began by handwriting notes on lined paper, then editing, either by scratching out, drawing arrows to redirect misplaced paragraphs or coding with numbers or stars. Back then “cut and paste” meant exactly that–employing scissors, tape and extra paper to rearrange and edit.
My method for creating stories, journal entries and blog posts hasn’t changed that much even to this day. Words tumble from brain to hand to pen to page. Then stars, numbers and arrows abound before they are transferred to type where percolation and final edits are made.
The Benefits of Writing by Hand
For me, no matter what I write, the mechanics of writing by hand relaxes me. It forces me to slow down and often can sooth a harried mood. I believe that I think better and my recall is improved. I have more focus.
Maybe most important to my love of handwriting is that it allows me to indulge in my passion for pens, paper and notebooks. My pen collection is quite diverse and all are used. I have a few caveats–to become part of my pen collection the ink must be black, the point should be fine, although the occasional chisel tip finds its way in. I prefer fat pens over slim ones, in homage to those pencils of long ago. I guess that’s why I still have that bump on my finger.