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A Keyboard-toting Southpaw Asks, “Does cursive handwriting matter anymore?”

Yes, I think reading and writing cursive matters for the past, present, and future. I am a southpaw. Watch the way most lefties hold a pen or pencil. It’s our best approximation of the way right-handed writers hold theirs. At the same angle only upside down and backwards! I do a strange blend of print and cursive. But I write some of my poems in cursive as a practice in attending to word formation. Cursive is a great form of meditation. I’m working to improve my cursive. I hope to inspire you to consider the same.

Yeah, I’m almost 50 years old. Old by my sons’ standards. I regret that my older son did not continue cursive after he was introduced to it. He tells me he can’t read other people’s cursive. So now I’m in the midst of translating old family letters and info into print so that he and others will be able to learn more about their family history. He got to meet my grandmother since she lived to 102, but the rest of my grandparents had died before he was born. They live only in the stories we share and being able to read what they left behind.

Past: It’s important to be able to read cursive if we want future younger people to be able to read family journals and be historians and archivists viewing primary handwritten source documents. Primary source documents are what turn me on to history. Not reading some historian’s hefty tome on his or her interpretation of events. History and its interpretation is to be found in these source documents like letter, journals, ledgers, diaries, census records.

Present: For some, cursive is more efficient than print, with less stopping and starting of the writing implement. Some children find it easier to print but some find cursive easier than print. It’s a good idea to offer choices as early as third grade and not later than fourth grade.

The practice of handwriting is important for the brain and hand connection. Emotional states come through in the pressure, slant, and curves of print or cursive. We don’t convey that in keyboarding. Plus there’s an artistry and grace we develop in using and practicing cursive. There’s something appealing to forming loops and rounded letters, as well as attending to strokes and dots.

Future: Has the use of keyboards and mice been observed long enough to determine that we’re seeing more carpal tunnel and other problems? My handwriting, print or cursive, suffers due to my extensive use of the keyboard. My alphabet letters are irregular. I write my poems in a journal. Lately I write most of them directly on the computer. Still not sure yet what I’m trading for the convenience of the keyboard. So I’ll keep practicing my cursive. It won’t be as neat, tight, and even as my grandmother’s and I’m okay with that.

This is a poem I wrote in response to the phrase "budding hope." I was growing tired of reading so many computer typed poems on Instagram. I was playing with a way to present a poem differently with a section of a watercolor I did as a border.

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