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What’s In A Name?

January 31, 2017
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

The name "John Hancock" has become synonymous with a flourishing, cursive signature.

According to Wikipedia, "John Hancock was president of Congress when the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed. He is primarily remembered by Americans for his large, flamboyant signature on the Declaration, so much so that "John Hancock" became, in the United States, an informal synonym for signature.

"According to legend, Hancock signed his name largely and clearly so that King George could read it without his spectacles, but the story is apocryphal and originated years later."

All the same, we remember John Hancock for his beautiful, masterful penmanship.

That leads me to the question: Why are our young students not taught cursive writing?

My 15-year-old grandson was practicing cursive writing over the Christmas holiday. His mother had purchased a workbook for him to follow. With practice, he will be able to sign his name in cursive and read cursive writing.

I watched him lay on the floor, practicing cursive. Using the lined sheets, he was writing the alphabet in upper and lower case. Next he wrote words. And at the end of each lesson, he wrote sentences in cursive.

Proudly, he asked if I would like to read his sentences. They were typical 15-year-old boy sentences, but they were in cursive and readable. He scored some points with me for carrying out the assignment and doing it correctly.

The next thing I?noticed, his little 5-year-old niece, Lilly, was diligently copying words from one of her books. Just like Uncle Joel, she made the letters exactly as she saw them in her book. Some of the words she recognized, three letter words like "the" and "and," but most of them she just copied. They looked pretty good to me.

Then came a press release about the "annual Cursive Writing Contest" in the United States and Canada. The information came from Los Angeles, CA, promoting contests "presented by the Campaign for Cursive(R), a committee of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation on National Handwriting Day."

Little did I know, National Handwriting day is celebrated on Jan. 23, the date associated with the birth of John Hancock.

There are three areas for students in grades 1-6 to test their cursive skills in this contest. "Exciting new writing instruments, workbooks, learning methods and accessories" will be awarded to winners. Contest judges are handwriting specialists and educators, judging on legibility and quality.

Here's the best part of the news release, the chair for Campaign for Cursive(R) says, "Research indicates that there are benefits for our children to learn cursive. Technology is important, too, one skill does not replace the other."

Cursive Writing Contest entrants apparently write about why they like to write in cursive. I have the news release with additional information if anyone is interested, so contact me.

My parents (mother and father) had beautiful cursive writing skills. We treasure the letters my father sent home from Europe during World War II, and we treasure the letters my mother wrote to us as we grew up and moved away from home. Such skills should be learned by each generation, regardless of technological advancements.



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