Blogs » On Another Note » What's In A Letter?


Saw in the Grey Beard Loon’s blog an entry about cursive writing slowly becoming extinct among students in school. This fills me with elation. It also fills me with haunting memories of elementary school.

When I went to school… By the time they started teaching us how to write, I was already what was considered a “class clown.” I was also born left handed. In the early eighties, a left handed child apparently was considered an abomination and I was repeatedly forced to write with my right hand. The result that I never got my fair share of practice with my natural left hand and never got the hang of writing with my right…was I am now equally crappy in both hands.

I’m not sure if my handwriting was the only way my early English teacher could extract some type of vengeance on me for being such a cut up in class, but if I had a nickel for every parent/teacher conference my parents had to go to… I’m sure I could at least buy you a coke… One of those three liter jobs too…

“Mrs. Oi, your son is bright, great reader, grasps the concepts taught in class… but I’m concerned about his penmanship… and he writes with his LEFT hand if he’s unattended.” So I guess my distaste for authority figures was rooted way before high school.

Like the others, the children in my school were told EVERYONE wrote in cursive, we were told it was mandatory to write in cursive in the real world, and that when we left “Primary school” (K-2nd) to go to “Elementary” (3-5th) we would have to write in cursive all the time. Printing was frowned upon… heavily. I think one of my teachers announced to the class it was a sign of a small mind.

I won’t get into too much more about the formative years of my education… but I bounced around from elementary school to school, town to town… after leaving the intellectual powerhouses of Kenedy Elementary in the eighties… I discovered that being left handed was not so unusual… I discovered that printing was not rare at all in the “real world”. I found out that cursive was reserved for people who wanted a fancy signature on special documents… and little else.

I also discovered that although to some who penmanship means a lot, some of the most gifted, talented and also smartest people I knew had terrible penmanship… When a teacher or person in my life called my writing “chicken scratch”… I informed them of every smart person I knew who had terrible handwriting… I also added I believed it was a sign of genius…

So… I agree with Loon about this topic…

”I hated it and was bad at it. I am still bad at it. Certain pompous, supercilious twits who write good hands seem to believe some virtue inheres in neat handwriting, some indication of a superior, orderly mind. Actually it reveals an ovine, conformist mentality.”
-Grey Beard Loon

Well said Loon… die cursive die.