Cursive writing is rapidly disappearing from school curriculums. Print and television newscasts have reported on this trend, and as someone who learned to write with the Palmer Method, I was surprised. How will kids sign their names on legal documents? Will they be baffled if they receive a letter from Grandma in cursive writing?

Actually, kids who have not learned this writing are unable to read it, and to them, it looks more like scribbles than communication.

A Wall Street Journal article, “The New Script for Teaching Handwriting is No Script at All,” says handwriting is “going the way of the quill pen.” Students are learning keyboarding instead, a skill my generation calls typing. Many of us use a combination of print and cursive, and that makes our handwriting even more individual.

The Handwriting University International website reports on the disappearance of this classic writing form. Georgia is just one state that has removed handwriting from its curriculum. “Many students prefer computers or text messages to handwriting,” the website reports. But those in favor of this writing think it is a special form of communication.

Expert Michelle Dresbold, author of Sex, Lies and Handwriting, considers this writing form as “brainwriting.” Trained by the Secret Service, she testifies in court, and has helped to solve many crime cases. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Michael A. Fuoco, gives us more insight into handwriting analysis.

According to the article, Dresbold thinks the letter “I” is the most important one in the alphabet and variations on how it is written reveal the person behind the pen. “Variations in writing [the letter] show an identity crisis,” Fuoco explains. Though appearances can be deceiving, Dresbold thinks handwriting never lies.

I looked up her book on Amazon and read through the inside pages that were available. Dresbold thinks handwriting comes through the brain. “Reading people through their handwriting is a lot like reading body language,” she writes. Her book contains many writing samples that support Dresbold’s views and work.

In the future, electronically transmitted legal documents will probably not require a signature. America could become like Taiwan, where people don’t sign documents, but stamp them with an ink chopmark. Each chop mark is unique and represents that individual. Unfortunately, if your chop mark is stolen or you lose it, you’re in big trouble. Taiwanese newspapers often contain ads reporting lost and stolen chopmarks.

I’m all for keyboarding and think kids need to know it and know it well. Still, I think we’re taking something away from children when we don’t require them to sign their name — their personality — in a writing form that has survived for centuries. Why should handwriting remain in the curriculum? Students will learn how to sign their signatures, read cursive communications, and express their individuality.

Somehow, a keyboard signature just isn’t the same.

Copyright 2013 by Harriet Hodgson

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