The loss of teaching cursive will confound

Published 9:23 am Monday, July 8, 2013

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

I can’t read Polish. I am of Polish descent. My grandmother on my mother’s side never was able to master the English language. If I want to read letters that my grandmother or other Polish ancestors wrote, I have to have someone translate them.

I have always kept a diary. In my foolish teenage years I wrote of crushes on the opposite sex, fights with friends and hopes and dreams. When I say write I mean write as in using cursive to put words in my journals.

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I have continued the tradition off and on of keeping a journal as an adult. As I look through some of my old diaries and journals, I am not sure I would want other people to read them even when I am gone. Perhaps, a good bonfire might be in order, but maybe I don’t have to worry. My grandchildren will not be able to read my diaries or my journals anyway as cursive may not be taught in their schools anymore.

I have had columns on this before, bemoaning the end to the learning of that particular form of communication, but I didn’t fully grasp the meaning of that until I read a newspaper article recently.

My grandkids will not be able to read the legacy I left for them in words. They are going to have to have a translator. I never in my wildest imagination, and I have a pretty wild imagination, ever thought the day would come when we would not be able to read a simple letter written in English, in cursive, in our country, without a translator. That hasn’t happened yet, but according to the experts, it will.

Of course, people complain that they can’t read my writing anyway. I used to get A’s in penmanship, but as an adult I am not quite so neat.

Another problem that seems to popping up in my mind, are all the Grandma memory books that I have been working on for my grandkids. You’ve seen those cute books that every bookstore has, where Grandma and Grandpa answer questions such as, “What was your first pet and why was he so special?” Well, I am close to answering them all and now I find that they won’t be able to read them because they will not know how to decipher handwriting.

I remember learning how to print my name. I remember learning how to print sentences. I remember graduating from printing my name to learning how to write my name in cursive. If you graduated to writing you had it made. It meant you were getting older and going on to bigger and better stuff.

Now I have to regress to printing everything I write that I leave for my grandchildren. My older grandchildren will know how to read cursive, my younger grandchildren will not.

I can’t help but feel we will lose part of history. Our young people will not be able to read the letters left by servicemen, their ancestors and people of history. They will not be able to read letters left in museums. Somehow I can’t see any generation handing down emails and text messages to their grandchildren.

Perhaps I can make a trade later on with either my grandkids or some wise, kind teenager. I will teach them to read cursive, and they can teach me how to read all the confusing text language.

Of course, I am talking down the road many years. Right? Who knows what language we will be deciphering when I am 100? Do you want to take a guess?


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at