Friday, March 16, 2012

The Lost Art - Lena Rivkin

I am staggered by the trend of eliminating cursive writing as a required course in our nation's public schools.  We should be teaching our children more not less. While much has been rightly and passionately written above regarding the statistics and science of what cursive writing contributes to educating a well rounded adult, I feel compelled to contribute from my own perspective. 
If we care more about short cuts than teaching cursive writing, the loss of individual intimacy in regards to letter writing will be profound. Cursive writing involves the integration of the body, both hemispheres of the brain as well as building the connective tissue between the letter writer and the letter reader. Because we know there are serious drawbacks in brain development that can occur when cursive writing is not implemented, it's horrifying to imagine schools no longer willing to improve young minds in their foolhardy pursuit of ways to 'shortcut' education. How can a country fully and competitively educate a child without educating all of the child?
To me, the severity of the loss is the loss of human contact--contact of the hand to the pen, and the pen to the paper. Simply printing letters does not promote the art of writing in the way that cursive writing not only connects each letter to each other, but also serves to connect the emotional thoughts the writer is attempting to convey. 
As I am an artist as well as a graphologist, I always make personal cards for friends and family. The act of making the card and cursively writing a personal message to each person connects me to them, and them to me in a way that transcends what an email or text or store bought greeting card can do. While the immediacy of a text or instant message is tantalizing in the time that it saves, why is it that no one seems to have any extra time?  
The instant gratification of messaging from PDA to smartphone is not a technological advance I can personally retreat from. I compensate for that convenience by reaching out to those near and dear to me via pen, paper, ink and the connecting script of the D'Nealian method that I loved learning back in the third grade of my public school in Studio City, California. When you write in cursive, you cannot multitask. The mere act of cursive writing forces you to be in the moment with your thoughts... and imagine what a different world this would be if we communicated with thought and intent, as opposed to shortcuts and abbreviations.
To write and/or receive a hand-written letter is a gift in itself. To eliminate cursive writing as an educational tool that has merely fallen by the wayside is a complete disgrace--as it only furthers the divide of detachment from human to human. Short cuts in education never serve the student, only the administration looking to save money. If we truly are to remain a global leader in education, creativity and innovation, we must fully contribute to the complete and integrated growth of our children, which includes lost languages, lost art and hopefully not the art of cursive writing.


  1. Thank you, Lena. I recently talked with my daughter-in-law, a 2nd grade bilingual teacher, as she was completing her report cards on the computer. She shared with me that the teachers no longer write personal notes on the students' report cards since they can't be recorded by the computer. This really depersonalizes communication between teachers and parents. As a child, I cherished the little notes my teacher would write on my report card, and still have some of them. I know my own students enjoyed those personal notes as well.

    Linda Green

    1. Linda-

      It is a very sad state of affairs when a teacher has to eliminate the subtle touches that enhance a child's self esteem because of a computer's inability to read handwriting. I too remember and treasure the personalized comments of my school teachers. Their comments were instrumental in my growing understanding of my sense of self. Thank you for chiming in. Perhaps if we all make a bit more noise we can bring about some necessary change!

  2. This is a very helpful article. I was unaware of the decision to eliminate cursive handwriting. Something to be shared with everyone.

  3. It is very sad to think that another thing being stripped away from our children's education. Some of the fondest memories I have are going to the mailbox and getting a handwritten letter from a friend. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  4. I agree completely! I am a school teacher and we need to know cursive and in fact it needs to be in the mandated standards. How could students do research into family history or U.S. History, or even our Constitution? This is very important. It is also an important tradition of intimate communication. I agree with Lena Rivkin.

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