Cursive handwriting.

It is a dying art. At least that is my opinion. Not too many people I know write in cursive. A few I can confirm: my mom, my grandmas, one grandpa, and just a few older lady friends who write me cards. I really can’t say that I know anyone my age that writes pure cursive at all times. Think of how many generations wrote in cursive! It is almost like a language: when you stop using it or practicing, you forget it. I realized this during yesterday’s spontaneous lesson.

I just finished a book called, Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed The Declaration of Independence, by Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese. It is a really interesting book! So often we only hear about the famous men such as John Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. There are 56 signers and for most I had never heard of their names before, which means that I had a great history lesson reading this book! Fascinating to read about their upbringings/occupations, impact of the revolution, their duties during and after the war in public service, and how their lives ended.

Now, obviously, these men did a lot of writing. They corresponded to each other in letters, wrote documents and edited them using paper and a feather tipped in ink before the documents ever reached the printing press. And people think typewriters were a pain. 😉 Now, the signers names caught my attention: Some of their names are shortened, such as only writing the first two or three letters of their first name before they affix their last names; some signatures are big–such as John Hancock, who also had excellent penmanship; some are small, and others are a bit sloppy–such as Stephen Hopskins (Kiernan and D’Agnese. p. 38, 50).  Fifty-six signatures and they all had one thing in common (as far as writing style goes): they are all in cursive. Let me say that again. These famous signatures are written in cursive!!!

I thought to myself, “When was the last time I wrote in cursive?” The answer: probably 5th grade. We were required to write in cursive in elementary school, then had a choice in junior high of what our preference was in writing. I liked to write fast (still do), because I think fast. Cursive took me so long to write, so I opted for a sloppy something in between cursive and print. I sometimes use an uppercase cursive “L” for paintings, but that is about it. This was a wedding present for my best friend back home:

Thus, my thoughts all came to one conclusion: I must write in cursive! I borrowed Mom’s “feathered” pen–she had attached two fake daisies and leaves to the top of a pen, seemed feathery enough!–and off I started with vicarious intents! I got my “T” down, but my hand could not follow the motions that my brain was trying to remember. I ended up just sitting there at the table staring at a blank piece of paper. It was then I decided that if signer John Penn could teach himself how to read and write at the age of eighteen (p. 202), then I could relearn cursive handwriting! I googled “How to write in cursive” and found myself with oodles of practice printouts from www.abcteach.com. I found the experience enlightening. My dad noticed and said it was actually good Occupational Therapy. Genius! 😀 If I graded my practice sheets, I would probably given myself a B-. HAHA!!! Serious though, the “Q’s” and “Z’s” are somewhat ridiculous.

After a quick practice, I wrote a short paragraph. What do you know?!? My handwriting is actually legible!!! 😀

I enjoyed a short “back to school moment.” The hardest issue for me was not lifting my pen. A website called “wiseGEEK” says,

When writing cursive, never remove your pencil from the paper in the middle of the word. All the letters are connected together through a series of loops. This gives the letters an appearance of flowing together                                       (Conjecture Corporation, 2003-2012).

I am not sure if I will write all the time in cursive. Maybe here and there now that it is fresh in my memory and good therapy for my hands. Regardless, I think it is beautiful art within the written language (when written smooth and in the author’s own signature style). It is something that I hope we never lose completely. If you have not written in cursive for a while, try it! I think you will find that your hand remembers the motions of the letters quickly once you get started. Have fun and more to come…

References:

Kiernan and D’Agnese. (2009). Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed The Declaration of    Independence. Philadelphia: Quirk Books.

“What Should I Know about Writing Cursive?” wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions. Conjecture Corporation, 2003-2012. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-should-i-know-about-writing-cursive.htm.

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4 Comments

Filed under Books and Movies, Paintings, Random

4 responses to “Cursive handwriting.

  1. A.B.

    Sounds like a great book. I print all the time and write tons of letters but probably couldn’t even write a sentance in cursive! Not even my name! Uh oh…

  2. Lois

    Now you have given us a very practical challenge! Many are now teaching italic handwriting which is a mix of cursive and printing. It can be pretty, but it is definitely not cursive. I think I will try to write a whole sentence today in cursive. I think I can still do it!

    • mel

      I don’t think my regular handwriting could be classified even as italic style. It is just super big and sloppy, but I can read it (if no one else can). You should see some of my notes from college. Then the books–my sidenotes where I started to drift off to sleep. HAHA. Classic!

      I should look up the italics style. Maybe it would help my handwriting to be more legible. 😀

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