They aren't teaching it anymore. I find that fact to be extremely upsetting. And no, I don't think I'm over-reacting. I am merely reporting another tear in the fabric of the cosmos, an earthquake in the course of civilization.
How will my grandchildren sign their job applications, their loan documents, their love letters? Will we revert back to the X? Printing does not lend itself to flourishes, although Daddooooo did manage to embellish his otherwise illegible scrawl with the most beautiful g's imaginable. They looked just like the ones this keyboard is sending to you.
Those gardening tools I mentioned yesterday are still talking to me, it seems. My paternal unit is as upset as I am.
Some grown ups do not use cursive. G'ma was one of them. Her printing was small and even and precise, just as one would expect of a woman trained as a kindergarten teacher. Almost til the end of her life, that handwriting was a constant. When the pen began to waver, when her letters began to sprawl across the bottom of the birthday cards, I was reminded that she was failing. Still, she was able to sign her name, because the pen didn't leave the paper quite as often. She didn't lose track of where she was or where she was going. The individual impressions of printing left her long before cursive's connectedness.
There's more to my annoyance than the signature. There's a cultural piece that's being ignored, as well. Learning cursive was a step taken along the road to becoming a grown-up. Kids in the younger grades used pencils, fat ones in kindergarten and first, thinner ones at the end of first and all through second. Ink pens were not permitted until the third grade, when, in addition to being trusted to write something which could not be erased, we were initiated into the adult world of writing.
The alphabet was back on the classroom wall, only this time the serifs were longer and more fluid. Capital J's looked altogether new, as did S and G. Palmer Penmanship required precision, but it was more like dancing than prancing to me. I fell in love with the feel of the pen on the paper. I had a myriad of writing implements, fountain pens with turquoise ink refill capsules; one of those new BIC ball-points, although some teachers didn't allow them; an ink-sipping-pen.... one that used an actual ink bottle. I got that one because I had an old desk, one with a hole in the top right corner for the ink well. G'ma went to Back to School Night and thought it was only right that I have the appropriate instruments.
I perfected my signature over one lonely summer. I worked on my initials. Three letters or two?... bold or girly?.... authoritative or inviting? Printing offered no such diversions. Cursive could be personalized and I was just the girl for the task. It made me happy. I felt like a big kid, like someone on the cusp of the rest of adulthood, developing the persona with which I would be associated. Control was an elusive thing in my childhood; I relished the opportunity to create something of my own.
I'm still signing my name the same way; my married name was just added into the style I adopted in junior high. It's an anchor to my youth, a connection between who I was and who I thought I would become and who I am today. How sad that we'll educate an entire generation of children who will miss that rite of passage.