Not in Cursf, please

cursfblog_optI’ve read several articles lately on the debate over teaching cursive writing in schools, or tossing it out. Those in favor of ditching it argue that with texting, tablets and computer keyboards, there’s no need for cluttering up the curriculum with a skill whose time has passed.

On the other hand, advocates of teaching “longhand” point to studies that show students retain more when they take notes in cursive, because cursive writing engages more areas of the brain. In addition, people who don’t learn to write cursive have a hard time reading it. That means personal family journals and letters, as well as historical documents could be indecipherable to future generations without assistance.

The last argument resonates with me because of something that happened years ago, when my children were young. I was frantically trying to finish a writing project with a firm deadline. As the due date approached and true panic set in, I figuratively barricaded myself in my office – as much to keep me in, as to keep others out. I gave instructions to my daughters, then 7 and 11, along the following lines.

“Do NOT come into the office. Do not knock on the door. Do not shout through the door. Do not even approach the door unless someone is bleeding, or the house is on fire.”

“But what if—?”

“No what ifs. I have to get this done. Today. If you hear me open the door, you can talk to me then. Otherwise, I don’t exist. I mean it.”

Being resourceful, independent, and insightful enough to detect when their mother was on the edge of a nervous break down, they took my words to heart and left me to my work. Occasionally, a thud, door slam, cry of outrage or shout of laughter penetrated my fortress of solitude, but I heard nothing that sounded like an in-person intervention was warranted.

After about four hours I had made real progress. As I leaned back in my chair for a good stretch, I heard the sound of hushed debate coming from the hallway. I was about to investigate, when a sheet of lined paper fluttered in under the door and across my office floor.

I stooped to pick it up, and this is the message I read, written by my seven-year-old.

Sorry to buther you. Alex [our dog] has a sore spot on his back. It is bleding. We think it is bad. Sara says, should we call the vet? Please answer.

P.S. Not in cursf

It made me laugh and feel guilty at the same time — both responses my children remain skilled at invoking. I felt bad that I had been so forceful in my demand for peace that they only dared breach it with a note. Though in my defense, I did specify ‘bleding’ as a reason to knock on the door. And I laughed because my daughter feared that even if her negligent mother responded, she might do so in the indecipherable code of cursive writing.

I understand that technology may make cursive writing seem obsolete, but I’ll always favor it, because the thrill of mastering the secret language of ‘cursf’ seems like a rite of passage to me. And yes, pun intended.




Nothing gold can stay


Falls the Shadow


  1. Yes, I can see, intelligence, humor, heart and soul run in this family. Good read and look forward to more!

  2. Dian Frayser

    Good blog and I can just imagine your girls doing this.
    My sentiments exactly regarding cursive. I would hate to see it eliminated. There would eventually be fewer and fewer people left who could use cursive and read it. So much would be lost. And besides, I can get a note or letter out in cursive much faster than I can printing. I do suppose, however, some day it will go the route of Latin. Latin is still around, but it can be read and written by so few. We will be applying the same poem to Cursive, by anyone who decides to study it, as we use to use for Latin. “Latin is a dead language, as dead as it can be. First it killed the Roman’s,and now it’s killing me.” Hope this isn’t in my life time.

    Thanks for the neat blog, AND the previous blog. It was REALLY funny, but we were out of town.


    • Thanks Dian, and I know you can relate to the “lightning or lightning bug” blog, from personal experience with your brother AND with Jack. 😉

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