Our first-grade teacher watched us practice cursive letters
using an exceptionally long thick pencil. We drew swirls
until our small hands became accustomed to holding
the pencil as we wrote hesitant letters. Serious faces.
Sit up straight. Hold the pencil this way. Do not hunch
over the desk when writing. I wonder how left-handers
fared in a mainly right-handed world? Our son belonged
to the former and I to the latter group. When we lived in
Germany, our son attended first grade. Our daughter was in
Kindergarten – for ages 3-5 yrs. In town I had to purchase a
special lined paper for first grade writing attempts. The lines were
spaced farther apart – four lines to write cursive precisely.
Waving a large piece of wallpaper, our son came
home from school holding it. New idea to me.
He promptly turned it to the blank side and began
making swirls. Each day he came home with a new piece
of wallpaper until the entire alphabet had been practiced.
The teacher walked around the classroom observing her
pupils as they attempted to write in cursive penmanship.
Thus, it was with a new generation. Sadly, cursive is not taught
in most US schools today. When I taught German, my
high school students were awestruck at the beautiful
German penmanship in the pen pal letters they received.
In return I had my students write in cursive. Some
attempts were better than others. In reading historical
texts such as our constitution or in Germany with perusing
historical documents like birth certificates, it becomes
necessary to be able to read the script as a translator for example.
There is great merit in learning the invaluable skill of cursive writing.
In elementary school in Massachusetts, penmanship was a class.
In first grade in Germany, pencils were used. In subsequent
years, fountain pen and ink were used. Not a ballpoint pen.