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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

I can't write

Posted Monday, August 8, 2011, at 9:49 AM

True, putting thoughts on paper is within my ability. But using pen or pencil to commit those thoughts in cursive writing as long since eluded. Can still read it, if actually legible; writing in cursive myself, no.

By the time our No. 2 child, Nathan, was in the second-grade, he was a profuse reader and we lived around the corner from the town library. For some reason, he needed me to sign one of those parents consent forms parents tend to sign unread and off he went to the library. He returned within 10 minutes to explain I'd have to come with him to see the librarian.

"She doesn't believe that's your signature."

It is always strange the things the mind pulls out of some isolated databank. I can clearly remember being "promoted" from writing my letters with crayon to using a pencil -- one of those thick-as-a-nickel things. Sometime between that "you get a pencil" day and completing the eighth-grade, I learned how to write in cursive well enough that it was not one of the many things for which I received undistinguished grading.

In my freshman year of high school, an older friend, Johnny Neff, showed me where to put my fingers on a manual typewriter. My cursive days were behind me.

For something like 15 years, I was involved in tax return preparation. No one had computers ($5,000-plus at the time) and every return had to be prepared by hand, printed neatly in block letters. Got out of the business after the 1986 season because, among other reasons, it was obvious tax work in the future would require one of those still at $5,000 computers.

Sometime between the first day of high school and last day of tax preparation, I forgot how to write in cursive. Beyond writing my name (always illegible), I simply do not know how to write anymore. Everything I do is printed, primarily in block letters; and I think I can do it about as fast as I ever did in cursive.

These reminiscences were invoked, of course, by the decision of the Department of Education to no longer require public schools to teach cursive writing. Seems learning to "keyboard" now begins in Kindergarten, so who needs to write their thoughts on paper in a form others can read?

According to an article in The Brazil Times, though, Curriculum Coordinator Kathy Knust indicates Clay County schools will continue to teach cursive writing -- for now -- in a "decreased" time allotment.

Our youngest, Benji, teaches fifth-grade in Charlotte, N.C., and he tells me they no longer include cursive.

About half the class arrives in the fall knowing how to write in it and others have never seen cursive.

He will write some of the assignments on the board in cursive just to get his students used to it and able to read it. (Benji, for the record, has very good penmanship).

One may wonder about those who might someday be in situations where human thoughts must be put to paper by the hand of the writer, or read by others un-keyboarded?

For example, a current correspondent of mine writes regularly using beautiful penmanship. He writes from prison, where keyboarding is a useless skill and handwriting betrays one's potential for life after incarceration.

With school starting up again, does the grandfather of three in the Clay County school system have an opinion on all this?

Not sure yet what I feel.

As I say, the only reason I write is to find out what I think ...

I just keyboard it now into one of our personal computers.

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David L. Lewis
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