I’m a dinosaur.

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist Karen Haviland says so long, longhand in a lament to disappearing penmanship.

Maybe I am finally becoming a dinosaur. I always thought myself fairly open to technology despite coming from a generation that didn’t have computers in school, cell phones or tablets at their ready reach.

In fact, I love technology and the challenge it often presents to me. Technology forces me keep current and thus embrace the world of today. After all, the way in which technology is rapidly expanding demands that in some fashion I must keep up or be doomed to become the very dinosaur that I accused my parents and their parents of being.

Despite my efforts, I have finally concluded that I really am from the dinosaur age. That conclusion jumped out at me last week when I was reading a newspaper.

There, in bold print, was a news article stating that cursive writing was becoming obsolete. In fact, some school districts have, or are considering, either dropping cursive writing lessons completely or making them an option.

What? Really?

This is mind-boggling to me and it’s hard to sort out why, exactly that is. Is this a knee jerk reaction to change or is it real distaste at the thought of forever losing a very real human skill?

I well remember labouring to master the art of cursive writing, my head bowed down and eyes boring into the paper beneath my pencil. Most often my tongue stuck out of my mouth as I concentrated to get the writing just right. Perfect penmanship was something to strive for and be proud of.

And when I did achieve that goal, when my paper was returned to me with a bright red A or A+ scrawled across the top, the feeling of pride and accomplishment was almost too much to contain. Even now it brings a smile to my face.

There is the argument that with cell phones, texting and computers at their use, today’s children have no need of such archaic skills as cursive handwriting. In fact, say some, a printed signature is just as valid as a written signature on any document.

That might be so, but what about the argument that some things of beauty should be preserved whether they are outdated or not?

Sure, I am grateful for technology which allows me, with a few quick keystrokes to connect with friends and family worldwide. But I can’t help feeling nostalgic about the intimacy of a written letter sent especially to me. Or about looking at my mother’s written signature and still feeling close to her although she’s been gone almost 12 years. I’m sure a piece of printed out paper with the words “Love Mom” at the bottom won’t quite pull at my heartstrings the way that her written words always do when I occasionally come across them.

I understand the logic behind cursive being obsolete; educators believe computer skills are more current for students and class time is better spent preparing today’s students for today’s world.

But if a student can’t write cursive, can that same student then decipher cursive?

Up until most recently a good portion of our history is filled with cursive documents. Although I suppose there will be cursive to text translations, I can’t help wondering what might get lost in the process.

Is cursive as obsolete as learning to churn butter or darn socks?

I hope not, for if it is, I believe we are doomed to have a society which, in its speed to put the old school behind it and race towards the technological future, will have missed out on the indefinable, yet very real things that having such cursive richness offers. Even now.

And I guess that way of thinking makes me a true dinosaur, as irrelevant as some believe cursive writing to be.

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