Handwriting is on my mind. Recently, I was touched to see copies of handwritten notes between Werner Von Braun, mastermind of the U.S. space program, and Jackie Kennedy, widow of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. The notes were part of an exhibit about the Apollo Space Program.
Fast forward to two timely news items about handwriting.
The first involves the pens provided to Charles III for signing royal documents as the new head of state in England after the passing of his mother. Of all the challenges facing the new monarch, who would have thought that fountain pens would make headlines? If I were him, I’d decree that the monarchy upgrade to ball-point.
The second involves the art of handwriting itself. When my sons were in school, they still learned cursive. So when I pass, they’ll be able to decipher my handwritten notes without a Rosetta Stone. But today’s schoolkids may need one. Recently, I saw a headline that announced: “Gen Z can’t read cursive.” As a Royal Oak resident, I asked our local school superintendent, Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, if students here are still being taught cursive. No, she said. “We use Handwriting Without Tears to teach manuscript writing to children in our early elementary years. We do not explicitly purchase any materials for cursive writing, nor is it a formal part of the elementary curriculum.”
When my kids were teens, I learned that they could hide their cell phone alerts with a high-pitched tone—which most adults can’t hear. Now parents of Gen Zs can hide their messages with cursive—which most kids can’t read. I find it sad that cursive is now considered an obstacle to communicating for some. So I’ve decided to rely more on talking, typing, or printing. But if I print, I sure won’t use a fountain pen.