As a third-grader at Lizzie Horn Elementary School in my hometown of Grenada, I was taught something new. And I was not happy.
Mrs. Wooldridge, one of my favorite teachers, was tasked with teaching us to turn the printed letters we’d painstakingly learned to draw when we were introduced to the alphabet into swervy, curvy connected letters.
Like arithmetic, cursive was not my favorite subject. But I poised my Number 2, bright yellow Ticonderoga pencil in my right hand and gave it my best shot.
My best shot, I learned every six weeks throughout elementary school, was most times worth a B, and twice a C – according to my report cards.
Only once did I receive an A in cursive or penmanship or handwriting, depending on what it was called in any given year.
Several years ago my niece got hold of one of my old report cards. She expressed complete surprise that we were graded on our penmanship. And on deportment.
It’s true. All those years ago in elementary school, we earned grades on our behavior.
Deportment pretty much was a measure of how much a student talked in class when he or she ought to have been listening.
Introvert that I am, I always got As in deportment, with one exception.
The day I handed my mother a report card with my only-ever B in deportment, she was elated, happy, over-the-moon joyful. She said she’d never been so grateful to see that B because it meant her painfully shy daughter had chattered in class.
She was not, however, pleased with my poor penmanship.
When I was a freshman in college, I wrote my parents a letter. You remember letters – handwritten on paper, placed in a stamped envelope and delivered by U.S. Post Office employees.
More than a week later, my mother called me on the pay phone on first-floor Hederman dormitory and told me it had taken my dad and her days to decipher my hieroglyphics. She also encouraged me to call collect from that point on.
These days only 15 states in these United States require the teaching of cursive. Multiple reasons have been given, but a primary one is – it’s the digital age.
Others argue for the continuation of cursive in classrooms for nostalgic reasons, but also so kids can read historical documents in their original forms, like the Constitution.
It seems sort of sad to think upcoming generations will not know cursive, but I read this week that it’s making a comeback.
But printing is fine by me. Mine, rarely legible, is a mixture of print and cursive. Still and yet, perhaps someone ought to save cursive from extinction.
If I could, I’d end this column with a swervy, curvy cursive message, but print will have to suffice.
Enjoy your Sunday.