Saturday is National Handwriting Day. It is a celebration of the birthday of the signer of the Declaration of Independence with the largest signature, John Hancock. My theory is it was probably put together by the pen manufacturers to try to sell their product. But it shines a light on an important fact. In case you are not aware of it, many schools have stopped teaching cursive handwriting.
I understand why this decision has had to be made. There is a lot to learn and a limited time to teach it. So something has to go. Since all the students are typing on computer keyboards I can see why the decision was made. Its just sad that handwriting has to be one of the things eliminated.
I have to confess. I’m left handed and like many of my kind my handwriting sucks. I’ve had pharmacists who deal everyday with the infamous handwriting of doctor’s prescriptions look at my handwriting and say, “What the hell is this?” But my unreadable scribbles have at least always been unique to me. The best part of handwriting is the individuality of it. This and more is about to be lost.
My first question is what about signatures? These individual representations of a person’s name have been used for identity purposes since the first cavemen could take stick to dirt. I’ve asked students what they are going to use instead of signatures and never get a solid answer. Most are just printing their name. I can only imagine forgers are wringing their hands with glee over that one! I keep getting this picture in my mind of Perry Mason asking a witness, “Is that your name printed on that check?” “I think so”, comes the answer, followed by a tearful, full confession to the murder. Aw what the heck? Lets all just go back to signing with an “X” like illiterate cattle rustlers do on the old western movies.
The real sadness is the loss of the artistic endeavor of putting pen to paper to write down creative thoughts; the personal gift from one person to another when they write down, in their own unique handwriting, the feelings they have for someone. An email starting with the words:
How do I love thee? just doesn’t have the same impact as a handwritten love letter. A thumb drive full of love emails stored in a shoebox in the back of a closet has lost what little emotion it had to start with.
So this Saturday let’s all celebrate by writing something. Even if its just practicing your penmanship so that your signature is more legible. If you didn’t learn handwriting in school, do some web research and learn. Maybe write a note to your spouse telling them how you feel about them. It might open up a whole new line of communication – a written one.