As a kid, one of my favorite birthday gifts was a bike. Not just any bike. It had a red sparkly banana seat and tall handlebars flanked by a white plastic basket trimmed in tiny pink roses. What I would give to have that bike now.
However, as an adult, one of my favorite birthday gifts was a handwritten letter given to me from my grandmother for my 30th birthday. While the contents of the letter will always be meaningful, what I love most, is that it was handwritten by her.
As I read the note, I can see her face and hear her deep, gravelly voice with each curve and loop in the letters. She was nearly 80 years old when she wrote the note. I could still tell it was her beautiful handwriting but the letters were shaky and the sentences were slightly crooked. She drew a little smiley face on the note which serves as a reminder of her whimsy.
What saddens me, is my daughter may not be able to read the note because cursive is becoming a lost art. Many elementary schools are electing to focus on keyboarding skills over perfecting handwriting. While typing is an important life skill in the information age, it should not be the sole method of communicating.
The most obvious question is, how will future generations sign their names? Didn’t an “X” carved in stone die with the cavemen? What a shame that a handwritten note from a grandparent, a person from another country or even our nation’s own Declaration of Independence won’t be able to be read by future generations.
Handwriting is much more than a communications tool. It is part of one’s personality and artistic expression – a personal signature, if you will. Ironically, even though we are living in an era of technological advancement that enables more personalization than ever before, a dichotomy of desensitization is also being created by muffling the human voice, and now, eliminating handwritten expression.
Luckily, my daughter’s school system is still teaching cursive this year. I hope the elementary schools in your community are also following suit.