For the past couple of years I have been teaching at a Christian school. I can honestly say it is a rewarding and challenging experience and I have been accumulating a storehouse of stories about my times in the front of a classroom.
For instance, in my capacity as the Junior High Language Arts teacher, I have had the pleasure (or pain) of teaching spelling, punctuation and grammar to grade eight and grade nine students. Most recently I have been trying to prepare my grade nine students for their Language Arts PAT’s (Provincial Exams).
At the start of the year, I was curious how far “back to basics” I needed to go when I asked the question, “Who can tell me what a consonant is?”
One boy raised his hand, “Is that like Africa or Australia?”
I looked increduously at him,”That’s a continent not a consonant!”
Back to basics it is!
One day as I was writing out a few notes for my class on the white board one boy piped up loudly, “Mrs. Dove, I can’t read that!”
I thought that interesting since he was sitting near the front of the class and I was being as neat as possible with my cursive writing. I looked puzzled and then he explained himself. “I can’t read handwriting. If you print it, no problem.”
I was shocked when there was a resounding chorus of “Yeah!” from the rest of the class.
Can’t read cursive writing? Seriously?
I grew up in the era of chalkboards, typewriters and Gestetners (that’s an “ancient” form of a photocopier that was actually just a duplicating machine, in case you young “whipper-snappers” didn’t know.) I remember we used to get awards for “Penmanship” in school. I received quite a few in my elementary years and then in high school I started using an old Olivetti typewriter. If I made a mistake there was no cutting, pasting, deleting or spell-check. No sirree. If I made a typo I had to pull the paper out of the typewriter and use tons of white out, or start all over again.
With the invention of the electric typewriter and then later the computer, I noticed as my keyboarding skills improved my handwriting skills seemed to decline. “Writing” letters became a thing of the past when emailing letters was quicker and far more convenient thanks to cutting, pasting and the ever-popular spell-check. Instead of writing, I was now printing because over time I just found it faster to print rather than “write” words if I wasn’t able to use my computer. Texting also limited my usage of writing cursive letters…but that’s a whole other story…
Based on several conversations with young adults and youth, I have come to the conclusion that this generation of youth and children will likely never feel the need to write cursively. It will become a lost art.
Is cursive writing a thing of the past and no longer needed? What do you think?
Would love to hear your insights because next week, I will share how “snail mail” and addressing an envelope is also going the way of the dinosaur.