It was a good book, the student told the 14 others in the undergraduate seminar I was teaching, and it included a number of excellent illustrations, such as photographs of relevant Civil War manuscripts. But, he continued, those weren’t very helpful to him, because of course he couldn’t read cursive.

~ Drew Gilpin Faust from,

People of a certain age know that cursive is no longer taught and that of course there must be people who can’t read or write cursive. But I certainly wasn’t clear on when the sun actually set. (Hint: Teaching of cursive ended in 2010.)

What struck me in this article was how Faust’s not knowing about the sunset of cursive knowledge sparked an interesting discussion among himself and the students in his class. Rather than rail against the cessation of cursive education, I’m left with interesting questions: I was taught a specific, super–simplified form of cursive. I know there are other styles, even hardcore calligraphy, which I can barely read. While there are lots of reasons trotted out for why cursive should be taught, maybe I should go through the effort of learning another form of cursive to put my efforts where my mouth has always been? If my cursive knowledge—for example—opens up my ability to access certain documents, wouldn’t it be better (my own argument goes) to learn another form, or to practice even more, to access even more?


Possibly worthy of a tattoo

As usual, I was reading a “this day in…” journal entry of mine, from a too-recent year. I found one of my unfortunately-too-frequent pages of pissed-off scribbling. And just smack-at-the-bottom was this:

If something is important, DO IT NOW,

Clearly that’s a kissing-cousin to the Eisenhower “method”. Partly, I like to sprinkle in Wikipedia links to see how easily you are distracted. But more so in this case, because it isn’t even Eisenhower’s idea.

Where might I tattoo this? I was thinking directly on my corneas would be a good place; The first half on one, the second half on the other. It would be like those “floaters” you find in your eye. It would be a true, subliminal message. (Grammar geeks: It would also be a truly subliminal message.)

I can think of no situation where that guidance would fail me, because the sub-text is: What, right now, is actually the important thing to do? Maybe taking a nap, or eating popcorn with a movie, really is important [for my mental health]. Or maybe the important thing is to up-end my day and go all-in helping someone do something.

Maybe the tatoo should be: IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Pop quiz: Grab a writing instrument and write, in cursive, the word, “scribbling.” For an extra 5 points, write in cursive—on the first try, without looking it up—the capitals: H, K, Q and G.