Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Can you write in cursive? March 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:17 AM

HAS CURSIVE WRITING gone the way of the typewriter, landlines, the horse and buggy?

If my conversation with a Faribault High School English teacher Thursday evening is any indication, then the answer would be a resounding “yes.”

The topic came up during parent-teacher conferences, when I viewed a test my 16-year-old, her student, had taken.

“Is he the only one who doesn’t write in cursive?” I ask, dismayed that my son has printed his answers. “This looks like a third grader’s printing.”

The teacher rifles through her stack of papers. “No,” she tells me. “All of the students print.” She even showed me a paper with printing so minuscule I would have needed a magnifying glass to read the student’s writing. Seriously.

This inability to write in cursive bothers me. What happened to penmanship?

When I was in grade school, we actually had penmanship as a subject and spent many hours perfecting our cursive letters. I remember writing rows and rows of sweeping double-humped “n’s,” triple-humped “m’s” and capital “O’s.”

The teacher isn’t surprised, nor seemingly bothered, by this lack of cursive usage. When she was in college (which wasn’t all that long ago), student papers were typed, not handwritten, she says. I get that.

But still.

“Can he write his name?” the teacher asks.

“Yes, that he can do,” I answer.

Then I wonder: What kind of generation are we raising when many young people can’t write, and probably can’t read, cursive?

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling