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Cursive

posted Sep 26, 2017, 1:14 PM by James Nennemann
By Sherry Perkins


They live in museums and libraries across America, in dusty attics, in dresser drawers and old shoe boxes and velvet covered photo albums.  They are historical documents, pages of poetry, letters from world wars, love letters and family diaries and heirloom recipes. They tell of a time never to come again.  What do they have in common? They are all written in cursive. Sadly, cursive writing has not been part of America’s schools curriculum for quite a few years.  Some ‘higher –ups' thought teaching this vital part of learning was taking too much of valuable school time. 

In my generation, cursive writing was a vital part of the elementary curriculum with teachers using many creative ways to teach it.  They made loops and valleys that connected the letters a fun part of the day. The lowercase “s” was a sailboat that merrily sailed away on a wave. Remember? Many other little stories were attached to each letter. 

Walk into the lower grade classrooms and you would have seen a border above the blackboard showing the alphabet in capital and lowercase letters.  Good penmanship was a thing of pride.  Remember that day when you could write your name ?  

Being able to read cursive is vital to understanding our past.   Think of how important it is to be able to go to our national museums and read the original Declaration of Independence or Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the original penmanship. Part of the inspiration is imagining President Lincoln writing the document, dipping a pen in the ink and writing the words as they came to him.  In our own Fremont County History Center, we have tax records, journals from early stores, wills and cemetery records, just to name a few of the hand written glimpses into our past.

This may become a short lived decision.  The trend is beginning to reverse itself. The Omaha World Herald recently published an article which stated that fourteen states in our country have gone back to allowing the teaching of cursive. Nebraska and Iowa curriculum now allows choice for each school.   The importance of writing and reading in cursive is being recognized as important by many teachers. 

Sadly, there is a generation of young people who can’t read the scripts. Keyboards-typewriters then computer- are replacing our ability to write words.  Yet, all important documents in our lives require a signature.  Some of us boldly sign our name making the capital letters flamboyant and beautiful.  Let’s hope that the 3 R’s so valued in the past will remain important in the future - Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. 
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