Lost Arts –
Substitute teaching this year was an eye opening experience. To say things have changed is the understatement of the YEAR!
However…ah hello…where did cursive go?
What Happened To Shorthand & Cursive –
Cursive, it’s gone. It seems to have died the same slow death dealt to shorthand. Dead, like shorthand. Gone, quietly and unceremoniously.
I remember when shorthand was retired from the public school system in the early 80’s (at least where I went to school). Poor ole girl – she fought a tough battle, but ultimately lost. I’m sure there are people who continue to learn to use shorthand to some extent, but gone are the days of steno pads, and shorthand drills.
I however, still recall those glory days. A product of the 60’s, I was so excited to get to High School in the fall of 1979 and have my shorthand book issued to me. Hysterically, basically the same book that my mother had used some 20 years earlier.
Photo of my mom’s book from about 1963 –
Being the language freak I am (note, I did not say language guru), I was and am still amazed and intrigued by shorthand which, I consider a language. There were a couple of methods if I recall – Pittman used in the UK and Gregg used in the US.
According to the internet, there are countries that teach shorthand for those students / professions that might find it useful. And I’m sure there are some careers / professionals that do or would find it an advantageous and useful tool. However, if you asked someone under 40 what shorthand is / was they would be hard pressed to respond.
Cool stuff that shorthand / sometimes call stenography. I thought of it (shorthand) as a code. I imagined myself a WWII code breaker, transmitting and deciphering secret war time messages. I can still write I love you – see below.
Cursive An Endangered Species –
“You wrote your name in cursive, who taught you that?” I asked. “My grandma,” the 4th grader responded. “Great job buddy!” I enthusiastically replied.
As a substitute, I’ve learned not to write my name on the whiteboard (not to be confused with a blackboard) in cursive, because the students can not read it if I do.
Just a few short years ago my children were taught and learned to write in cursive, I remember hearing rumors of it’s decline, but really paid it no mind. It’ll never happened I thought to myself. But now as my grandchildren have entered school I realize, it’s pretty much a done deal. It’s gone!
I understand the rhetoric. Just like I understood the all to similar rhetoric when shorthand was enjoying her final days. Yet – it still saddens me. MY grandchildren WILL NEVER KNOW HOW TO WRITE CURSIVE. It’s up to me to pass this on. If I don’t – it’ll be too late…
There’s So Much To Learn These Days –
There’s so much for children to learn these days – I don’t even know where the educators would find time in the school day to plug cursive back in to. I’m not even sure of the actual status of cursive (state to state), but I’m pretty sure it’s not part of today’s standards in my state. An internet search will leave you unsure and you’ll find it a very heated and debated subject.
I’ve been so impressed with today’s teachers and students. The teachers teach some amazing concepts. And the students absorb these concepts at an incredible rate. Far more advanced at a given age than I remember being.
Today’s standards are just that – today’s standards. They are for the NOW. They are relevant and solid and I have faith in the education system I witnessed this year.
Vintage Themes And Remembering That Change Is Progress –
As much as I like vintage, I’m a big advocate for change. Believing that change is progress and always proclaiming publicly – change is growth – change is progress.
I keep in my pocket a picture of the past a memory of long, long last.
There are things that can and should be shared and cared for and passed on in our lifetime. Recipes, prayers, memories, trinkets, skills, quilts, and last but not least, cursive and shorthand.
Like the cold war, the typewriter and the film camera, cursive and shorthand are memories I have. Memories, that my children and grandchildren don’t have. And like the memories of my parents (the draft, Elvis, and the 57 Chevy) and of my grandparents (the great depression, the jitterbug, and WWII), each set subjective. They are relevant only to OUR unique time here on earth.
The Truth Of The Matter Is –
Things change, they evolve, they fade. Many traditions, arts, languages, customs, ways etc… are lost to progress or simply to time.
It’s understandable, but none the less sad.
Cursive is to today’s elementary school student what shorthand was to me.
It’s not rocket science and saving it will not end world hunger. It’s a dying art, a piece of the past that can be shared in love, received with intrigue and recalled nostalgically.
I hope you enjoyed this look back – I know I did.
Pass something on!