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And the winner is..

I just wrote a To-Do list for the day.
Drinking Hot Chocolate now.
And talking to my one year old now too!

Thanks for this great giveaway!

I've sent you a message!

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to play along with my silly question entries.  It may have seemed a strange request, but I was curious, for the sake of curiosity and also with a purpose.  See, recently, my son's school district has decided to stop teaching cursive/script writing.  This has made me think.  A lot.  I was not quick to anger or argue, because I know times are changing and that many things already have changed (Did I even tell you about the time in London when we passed a red phone booth and I had to explain to George what it was for?  Or when I told him his grandmother didn't have computers when she was a kid and he said in shock, "Not even a touchscreen!" Ahh.. things have definitely changed).
But I have sought out discussions and opinions on the topic, on Facebook and in real life, and I'm slowly working through how I feel about this monumental difference between my life experience and those of my children. 
Waay back before I was a quilter, I was a writer.  Not this kind of writer, a blog writer or a book writer, but a letter writer.  I had lots of pen pals, tons of stationary and pens (and stickers, and stamps, and any other office supply I could get my hands on).  I may have written about this before at some point, but here I want to record my feelings on handwriting.  On how important it is.  How much of an identity marker it is to me.  When I see my grandmother's script, I can hear her voice.  My mom's-- I envision her hands. (Funny, my husband's handwriting evokes his accent)  My own handwriting is something that I spent years refining, and just remembering the pages I have filled with it brings me some sort of comfort and calm, not unlike looking at my own quilts.
I assume that my boys will both learn to write-- to print with pencil and paper-- of course.  But will their handwriting become something that will identify them?  Will they take pride in it?  Will it reveal bits of their personality?
In the discussions, people say that cursive is outdated, unnecessary.  But if they don't learn to write it, will they still learn to read it?  I can't imagine a world where my children won't be able to read the notes I've written them in their baby books.  Where transcriptions will be necessary to read primary sources and other documents that are less than decades old?  Yes, this is getting emotional for me.. sorry.  One friend directed me to this website on the subject, and it gives more to ponder.  I think there's more to cursive writing than the school district is paying attention to..

So I asked, what was the last thing you wrote by hand.  The majority of people said some sort of list, either a to-do list or a grocery list.  Lots of people wrote notes or cards.  Many of you wrote checks.  One person commented that she wrote in a journal.  A real paper journal.  That's good.  I have  a paper journal too, one that I occasionally jot down what the boys and I do with our days-- funny things they did or said, Jack's baby milestones.  I have a notebook of lists and ideas too that gets used more often.  But the last thing I wrote was my signature on a credit card receipt at the quilt shop.  (The last thing I ate was a ghost shaped marshmallow).

Anyway, I've always been a fan of material culture, and I just wanted to use this space to record how I feel about this cultural change.  I worry that they won't teach cursive and then in 10-20 years they'll discover that it was a mistake, that it actually is important and we'll have a generation of people who are lacking this skill-- kind of like how they stopped teaching Home Ec. in high school and now my generation can't cook or feed itself healthy foods and so many other essential home-related skills are just missing!  Ok, no tangents.

I'll leave you with some pages of Slams.  These are small booklets that penpals passed to each other and answered questions written inside.  When the pages were full the book would be sent back to the maker (or the person it was made for) to read, laugh, save.. just a bit of material culture, handwriting included.





Comments

  1. Interesting and thought provoking. Thank you.

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  2. My granddaughter's elementary school did not teach cursive, so my daughter found a good simple manual to teach her, and her cursive is now easy to read. I too think that there is a brain connection to learning how to write, and the kids are missing out on that. Plus, however will they be able to read letters, cards, etc from other folks?

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  3. I'm with you, 100%. I've written hundreds upon hundreds of letters in my lifetime, and sorely miss them, now that everyone's in such a big hurry and computers have taken over so many of our lives. I was one of the last holdouts, but no one would take the time to write back; instead I got very unsatisfying e-mails. Just think about how much we've learned about our ancestors' lives from letters and journals over generations, and then think about the void that e-mails and blogs will leave, in their place, for future generations. Thanks for sharing your feelings on this topic; I'm your kindred spirit.

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  4. Your post says it all! Last year I had to ask my son's tutor to teach him cursive and we have him write all notes/ etc to us in cursive. It is a dying art and this particular one is a necessity. How can people sign a legal document without cursive?

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  5. A lovely post, thank you! Oh, the irony of responding to it using my keyboard...

    Here in Switzerland, in the state schools, children spend the first year of compulsory school (at 6) learning cursive writing. My daughter (aged 7) is now learning the cursive capital letters (!) -- very elaborate and beautiful. As both my kids went to Montessori nursery schools before that, there was also a focus on fine motor skills there as 'pre-writing' preparation. Without the fine motor skills, it is difficult for little hands to learn good writing, so I suspect it is all connected -- so crafting, sticking, cutting, gluing, and "cutting-out-shapes-with-a-sharp-point" (amazingly dangerous tool all little kids use here from age 4!) are all important. The Montessori approach is, I think, that while cursive looks harder it is actually softer and gentler on little hands than sharp printing of letters. My two cents worth (or, in this context, my two centimes...). This reminds me also of just how little I now write by hand, even when my job is 80% writing. Time to go and buy a nice new pen! JJ

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  6. Your slams remind me of passing around Altered Books then the owner would receive it back in the end. I agree with you we are raising our grandson and I want his writing to improve as he get older not disappear! In 3rd grade the have cursive practice books that they use everyday. I write more in cursive than print!

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  7. Interesting discussion, about handwriting, and it does come up often. Some schools of thought have started teaching cursive ONLY; I also have a friend whose children are learning printing ONLY, besides their own signature. Another person's job-hiring process required that he know how to write every upper- and lower-case letter of the cursive alphabet; they later told him that to miss one would have disqualified him from the job! My little girl wonders if cursive will become outdated, in which case she plans to teach classes. :-) Like you, I've spent years getting my handwriting just so; and calligraphy and an artsy flair are great for making things interesting. Communication is fast & efficient via email and the like, but there's nothing like real handwriting. Paper journaling, letters, a handwritten card in the mail ... I can't see it all going out of style.

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  8. I really had to comment!!
    As I really fear for the loss of good handwriting in children and young adults! I used to work in primary schools and I think it really think it helps with spelling and pride in their work!
    Also I have read recently in the UK, people are being asked to apply for jobs with hand written letters, as prospective employers can tell so much about someone by their penmanship and how they can compose, write and present a letter without spell check!!

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  9. I homeschool my 7 children. We really like the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. It is simplified and a bit more intuitive than traditional cursive. You can order individual workbooks from their website.

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