What has happened to cursive writing?

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Saturdays at the Cottage Cafe have become an impromptu salon for the discussion of various ills and issues within our society. (This is what happens when I’m left alone to work the sandwich table.)

As regular customers come and go, so do the topics of conversation, ranging from the national to local, and mundane to bizarre.

A few weeks’ ago, Steve Adams of Auburn brought to my attention a disturbing detail: cursive was no longer being taught in Auburn’s city schools.

We both quickly declared this policy change to be an error and continued to ruminate on the potential impact such a decision would have.

While the need for good penmanship and proper handwriting has waned here in the digital era, children should still be instructed in the basic practices of writing, of which cursive is a seldom-used, but necessary, tool.

Sadly, hardly anyone takes the time to write cursive-laden letters to family and friends these days, when e-mails and texts are quicker and less likely to leave evidence for future generations. (Do you honestly believe your great-great-grandmother would want you reading her old love letters? Would you want your progeny to read yours?)

What I remember of my cursive education dates back to 3rd grade and Deborah Lindsey.

I was never proficient at making the letter “z” look convincingly like anything other that a spasmic squiggle, and my r’s are somewhat lacking, but I learned the skill and can now confidently scrawl my script on the backs of checks, legal documents and anything else for which my signature is required.

What of these kids now?

Will they have to sign documents with the ubiquitous “X,” proving that if it was good enough for our illiterate great-grandfathers, it’s good enough for us?

Print-form letters, even in different handwritings, still bear a striking similarity.

Cursive letters tend to be indicative of only the writer’s hand.

No matter how many times we tried to forge our parents’ signatures on less-than-stellar report cards, they never seemed right (The McCollum Research Institute has done numerous studies in that field; just don’t tell Homer or Liz).

Will we soon be forced to transition to a world where just a plain-form name will be enough?

I shudder to think so.

Parents, do the right thing and make sure little Fred or Wilma knows how to at least write their own precious name in cursive.

Show them how to dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and, if you’re feeling daring, the ending signature swoop practiced by signing experts like John Hancock.

If the schools won’t take up the task, then you, the parents, must for the sake of country and common sense.

Unless we want to go back to the 1800s (and I fear some of you might), let’s try and nip this in the bud before it explodes into a full-blown, script epidemic.

Respectfully yours,

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