A month ago there were a flurry of articles that suggested that cursive writing was going by the wasteside; many believing that it would become extinct and would be removed from elementary school education in the US. This news really struck a chord with me based on my upbringing. I was very excited about a new bill that will go before the legislature that will keep this scared skill alive and I hope it continues to be a staple in schools for years to come. This one skill has been part of my young and adult life and it’s one I hope remains for years to come.
My earliest memories of cursive writing start with my mother (most things start with her). I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Jennifer pen “Jacinth Chang” with many loops, bubbles and a dramatic line through “Chang”. As a young child, not old enough to touch the pen attached to the bank desk, I would watch my mother at TD Bank sign, sign and sign. She was also adamant about us writing letters to grandma and cards for all of the major holidays. My grandmother also wrote us in cursive. She also spoke in cursive too. Alas, many letters were written in cursive.
My Grade 3 year was split between two schools – Our Lady of the Rosary in Concord, Ontario for September through November ’88 and I would remain at St. Joseph Richmond Hill until 1992. Mr Tomlin, my Grade 3 teacher at Our Lady taught cursive writing from 11:15-noon each day. I remember how meticulous he was about detail; you could only have 3 unacceptable circles on your page otherwise you missed recess and most important for me, lunch (I was a rather round child and needed to have my lunch). I remember focusing quite hard on getting the letters right — f’s, t’s, everything had to be perfect. We had a supply teacher who flubbed the f, and I remember Mr Tomlin being so infuriated that he made us do two straight days of lower case “f” until we got it right. That same discipline follows me today when on calls with customers, in meetings, or on vacation — you will rarely find me without my special pen or my notebook nearby.
Cursive continued to follow me through university where at Queen’s University where I had my most rewarding and humiliating experiences when it comes to my writing. In my 3rd year, I remember being parked at “Club Stauffer” and I reluctantly let one of my peers, Henry, borrow my Mead Notebook to get a single day of notes. An hour would pass and there was no sight of Henry. I grabbed a ‘Sweet Deal’ at the Commn Ground, walked through the JDUC and noticed Henry, copying what appeared to be the entire book. The entire 1,000 page notebook – multiple courses, multiple copies. Lesson learned = trust no one, but it gets better. Later that evening, I was in the library and noticed piles and piles of papers at one of the shared tables. Familiar looking scribbles on photography stock. While I was looking for Henry, someone else had made another copy of another notebook and the evidence was out in the open. Had someone asked me outright, I may have considered saying ‘yes’, but I didn’t have the option. The theft also occurred among a group where the lines between friend and peer became blurred and then very distinct and far apart. I got over that pretty quickly and closed out the year strong.
I became a volunteer a note taker for disability services at Queen’s University for my Business 101 class. I ditched the Mead in favor of a standard notepad, lined with carbon paper and a secondary sheet which I would give to the student (I kept the originals for myself). I rarely used whiteout so it made sense for me to take part in this service, as it made me feel somewhat charitable and great for the student. Picture my shock when I noticed that the student was sharing the notes with his friendship circle (some of whom had not bothered to even attend the class!). We worked it out and in the end, he apologized as I had to ask why his friend didn’t take the notes for him.
On a happier note, I had the pleasure of going on a recent date where the topic of cursive writing came up. He had some writing to do and mentioned he enjoyed it as he has neat writing. What do you think? Does his writing beat mine? At some point during our chat at Thorough Bread Cafe in San Francisco, we made a point to write each other follow-up thank yous to the date and here they are.
Thanks for reading!