The Mighty Pen and the Lost Art of Penmanship

Third grade was the year we learned to write in cursive and the year we were finally allowed to use pens instead of pencils. We felt grown up, older and much more mature than those baby first and second graders who still used pencils and sometimes crayons. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Kleindienst, was in her early sixties, and wore her salt and pepper hair in a thick braid wrapped around her head like a halo. She drew each letter in upper and lower case in script on the board and explained that cursive writing was no different than printing, really. The letters simply connected when writing in cursive.

For years we turned in essays and stories written in script on loose-leaf paper. Writing in cursive was mandatory. Printing was not permitted. Soon though, we’d be required to have all of our papers type-written. Typewriters became obsolete with the advent of word processors, and word processors became obsolete with the advent of personal computers.

Handwriting itself has become obsolete. Students submit their papers to their teachers via email in word documents and PDFs. But what about the relationship the hand has with the pen and the paper has with the thought?

Putting pen to paper helps many writers not only generate ideas, but also helps them to feel a connection to their writing on a physical and emotional level. Writing in cursive is easier than writing printing, although usually less legible. The writer no longer has to remove the pen from the page as the ink flows from the tool of their craft: the Mighty Pen.

Depending on the writer, and the speed at which he or she writes, reading cursive language can be a challenge. But if done well, and done with care, the writing itself, along with its message can be quite beautiful.