Monday, April 25, 2016

Cursive Handwriting – How I Earned My Bic Blue Pen

I remember being in third grade when learned how to write in cursive… each lesson taught us to write one or two letters at a time, both upper case and lower case. This primary task was first performed with a pencil.

We practiced, and learned what each step was to create the letter A, or became excited anticipating learning how to write the capital letter Q.  We were all taught to end each letter with a swing, by Sister Mary Alice, and we always compared our handwriting with one another, and maybe even competed for the nicest penmanship.

At some point during the school year, we reached our goal and our lessons ended with the letter Z.  All the while learning how to write we used a pencil, at this point in the third grade we were only allowed to use a pencil for every subject.

Once our penmanship lesson ended, we were tested on what was taught, the precision, and the clarity of the letters. We had to write a poem on a loose-leaf piece of paper, when and if we passed, we were given permission to use the coveted Bic blue pen; everything counted including the header of the page, this was typical for every test or a hand in assignment, the top of the page had to look like this:

I think the piece that our penmanship was tested on was the Pledge of Allegiance, or maybe a prayer, quite honestly I don’t remember – I just know there was a test and I passed it, after which I was given a Bic blue pen.  

Therefore, cursive handwriting is quite important to me ….for many years I honed those letters, with fancy curves and exaggerated swings – I am not ashamed or embarrassed, I love my handwriting, it is my own and proud that I earned that blue pen on the first testing.

These might be a sample of my handwriting but slightly changed a bit to depict the acceptable letterform in my elementary school.

Cursive writing is an expression of us; everyone has his own, no two are the same. Just as our fingerprints are different so is our handwriting….

Handwriting is slowly being phased out of the classroom - to make room for common core and subjects that can be measured, as long as a yardstick can be used everything else that cannot be measured, weighed or evaluated becomes obsolete.

Why are so many people willing to let go of things that were taught in the past – why do we allow things that are taught in the past be tossed and outcast quite easily?

This is not progression, lessons learned in the past do have value, perhaps it doesn’t fit in our society today because it’s better to take the easy way.  I cannot stress this enough  that it is significant- there is an importance for lessons from the past to be included.

Show of hands who here can count out change without having it calculated on a cash register? I can, did I learn that when I worked as a cashier – no it was taught in school and I was able to use it when I worked as a cashier at my after school job.
There’s this song from Dawes called “When My Time Comes.”  There is a line in the song that I think should be a reminder to all of us, the line is:

“And now the only piece of advice that continues to help
Is anyone that's making anything new only breaks something else.”
Song By Dawes – When My Time Comes

What is new – well it’s not new but has been a bane in my life and others for a number of years and that is Common Core.

Common Core is an embarrassment, a disgrace – it is a curriculum with a yardstick, yet the measurements cannot be figured out unless you can understand common core math.  

It is developmentally inappropriate and assumes every child reads at the same level. It is breaking our schools and children’s education. To me it takes more than it gives – one subject that is being tossed out is cursive handwriting.

Why am I concerned about this subject as opposed to a more academically challenged subject? It concerns me for a number of reasons but primarily it’s  because my kids cannot  read cursive; consequently, my kids started out in the American School system much later than their classmates, so to say there’s a deficit that is not an exaggeration.

I was stunned that if they learned any of it – it is not practiced or used at all.

I have researched this everywhere – and bottom line, this is what I learned:

Cursive handwriting:

Helps kids learn to read
The English language is very complex; early handwriting practice and writing down messages helps kids break the code
Early reading success
Important tool for cognitive development
Stimulates widespread area of both cerebral hemisphere
Hand-eye coordination
Improves fine motor skills

So that is the scientific aspect of what happens when we take pen to paper and write, sure perhaps we didn’t know this in the olden days, but we know this now, because we have the capabilities to research it, how lucky are we.

The majority of my resource was gathered at Psychology today.

A great article is:

Biological and Psychology Benefits of Learning Cursive
Don't let your schools stop teaching cursive.

One of the many things the article pointed out that was interesting was.

When a child learns the process of handwriting it is simply done one or two letters at a time.  First, the child engages the hand and arm motion, and then the student learns one stroke, then the next, until it copies the letter.  The first letter a bit tricky, the second time a little better, each practice of the letter gets better and better; there is no right or wrong- because what is created is their own, the student is in control.  Moreover, the student feels that better results can occur with each attempt – resulting in ownership and success, a gratifying process.
Cursive handwriting allows us to read our historical documents, write out a card, read Grandmas recipes, and sign our own name. Texting and emails are not bad – simply new vehicles for literacy that need to honor how it got here.

I get that it’s so much easier for a teacher to grade an essay in a Calibri font – single lined, count the words and auto-correct the mistakes essay. This is all fine and good but these should be privileges, typing an essay on the computer, should be earned just as my third-grade classmates and I earned the Bic blue pen.


  1. our enire educational system is a sad disgrace.
    sad because these children only have that first chance.
    and if certain things are missing... they can leave a giant gap.
    I too love cursive. and I also learned it in the third grade when we lived in Colorado. I remember being SO PROUD!!! we weren't awarded a blue bic pen (such a lovely idea) but for the first time... I felt
    I can see you teaching the importance of it to your children.
    I guess parents are going to have to patch up the pitiful gaps left by a school system that is broken. literally. broken.
    a marvelous post. a tour de force. you should send it to Washington.
    (as if they'd listen)
    my mother had to learn and perfect the 'spencerian' script when she went to school. talk about BEAUTIFUL! wow. and I remember being proud of her gorgeous signature all of my life. :)

    1. thank you - they want to progress and yet... well I'm not sure anymore - I want my kids to learn more.


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