Friday, July 8, 2011

Cursive Writing


There is this crazy talk going around about not teaching kids to write.

One of the three basic R’s (reading, riting, and rithmatic) will be gone.

Penmanship awards were handed out in the day for the cleanest writing. We would practice for hours on paper especially ruled to give the acenders and decenders the correct space.

We would collect each other’s handwriting styles in autograph books. Our signature became a symbol to who we were.

Different variations were adopted like more of a slant or skew, swashes or open dots on periods.

Letters were handwritten with thought and grace and put in an envelope and sealed and stamped and mailed waiting a reply. Once put on paper, it could not be deleted.

Through the years our signature continue to change. We tried nicknames or formal proper full name with middle initial. Then we became too much in a hurry and our penmanship became sloppy.

Yet, cursive writing was to speed up the printing process of passing words along.

Calligraphy was an outpouring of the writing of letters on paper, yet in a mystical manner. First formal writing for books then different designs became noticed for signs, flyers, advertisements and displays that would get the attention of the passing purchaser.

Then certain tools were manufactured to replicate each letter in its true form. Speedball pens and ink were bought and practiced by many to duplicate letter styles.

My father gave me this book.
I started making posters as a child and became interesting in type styles. There were a few that printers used made from hot metal not much different that the wood blocks created by Guttenberg. These had slight variations of bold or italic, but another artist community grew adapting the style of writing into an art form.
So “fonts” as they became to be called were created for different styles and effects.

Hot for summer.
All the shapes of the letters were adjusted to represent new attractive eye-catching meanings to words.

So the shapes of the words in different type styles translated to the reader different thoughts and meanings.

Then the computer age took over allow the artist the availability to kern and skew and tighten and enlarge and distort the ordinary type font into another wonder.

Words became symbols and icons and logos for a generation.
But what happened to the written word?

Perhaps we have gone away from the signature being the final identification of who we are? Maybe we are just numbers or bar codes or IP locations?

So what do we do when we purchase a large item and have it delivered and the box is on the doorstep and the deliverer is standing there?

Do we just press our fingerprint on the carton and say, “Have a nice day”? Do we swipe a plastic card into a plastic tablet and hope it does not steal our identity?

Maybe they are right and writing is old school. Maybe the pen and pencil onto paper has been passed by like the dinosaur. Maybe it is time to move on and just keyboard in everything.

PS: The typing class I took in high school has paid off more than I had ever imagined.
So who needs to write your name?


Art said...


Artie said...

Well I liked this a lot. I began cursive in Illinois, but in the Fifth grade moved to Richmond. Imagine my surprise... they taught cursive very differently and it drove me crazy. By jr high I returned to printing and never looked back