There’s nothing quite like the unique nature of the handwritten note. Sure, texts are quick and emails more convenient, but the extra few minutes and thought that go into an act of actual ink on paper make a world of difference to the reader and receiver. Yet in this day and age, it’s rare anyone can spare the extra time. And so, writing as an actual act, irrelevant of content, is on the decline.
I was serving a family of five at my restaurant with, as usual, the kids clicking away at their iPhones in the time it took to get their entrees. When time came for the bill, the father wrote a few notes and his son questioned curiously the loopy lines that made up his handwriting. “That’s cursive,” he replied. I was dumbfounded. “Do they not teach you that in school?” I blurted out to which I reviewed a negatory shake of the head. Seriously? Have schools really done away with those dotted and dashed line exercises that have you practicing sailboat-shaped s’s and upper-case t’s that always looked like J’s to me? Is it really considered archaic to use pens and pencils in lieu of keyboards and touch screens?
I may be old school (no pun intended), but there’s no way I could or would accept cursive’s cruel fate. Which is why when The Washington Post recently published an article on its comeback, I quickly took note (again, these puns are unintentional, I assure you). Schools in Louisiana and Arkansas are reinstating mandatory instruction of the once-lost art in elementary schools and 10 other states – California included – have maintained the writing as a state standard. Others leave it up to the discretion of each school district. Washington and Indiana, however, are pushing through bills to make it a non-negotiable in curriculums again.
So, what’s the word? Is it dead? I sure hope not. Handwriting is an art, print or cursive, sloppy or sophisticated, chiseled calligraphy or choppy chicken scratch. Each person’s scrawl is special, one-of-a-kind. So to abandon altogether an individual’s personal penmanship is to erase the very fingerprint from which he writes.