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The Daily Eastern News

Don’t let writing, reading slip away

Carole Hodorowicz, Columnist

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There’s nothing that makes me hit the snooze button on my alarm faster than the sun rising on a Monday morning.

Mondays signal the end of a good weekend and the beginning of another long week.

As the glamour of a free weekend fades away and a week full of responsibilities materializes, it is impossible for me to find delight on the most dreaded day of the week.

Well, almost impossible.

After boiling in the 90-degree weather and dragging my feet from class to class, I came home to my favorite surprise: a hand written letter.

When I opened the small card, patterned with doodles of houses with hearts exploding from the chimneys, I found the words of my neighbor Lucy.

Ever since I can remember, walking across the street to help Lucy cut coupons while chatting the afternoon away at her kitchen table has been a tradition my younger sister, neighbors and I have carried on for many years.

With a sharp wit and a skilled hand for sewing, Lucy’s contagious energy never failed to bring us together to indulge in the enjoyment of good company.

However, as we got older, these rendezvouses became less frequent. A smile and a wave from our front porches were always easy to find, but the time to sit around her kitchen table escaped us.

Reading her words of encouragement, I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me.

Seeing these words written in her cursive, unique like a fingerprint or a snowflake, is priceless.

Handwritten letters, cards, and even notes in class are near extinction. We can not let technology take all of the blame—humans are just too lazy now with all of the quicker alternatives to communicate.

Last semester, my friend Ryan, who goes to Marquette University, and I decided to keep this ancient art alive.

Every couple weeks, we write each other back and forth. Receiving a text from Ryan that he just put my letter in the mail never failed to put a smile on my face, and seeing the letter in my mailbox always made my day.

We are both advocates for saving snail mail. Our shared passion for handwritten letters has led to a new tradition that we have decided to begin this semester.

Along with being avid writers, Ryan and I are avid readers. With similar literary bucket lists and a shared appreciation for literature, we are going to start choosing a book to read and annotate.

Ryan has chosen to cross Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov off his list first and I am kicking it off with Pet Cemetery by Stephen King.

Once we are finished reading and marking our favorite quotes and passages, we are going to mail each other the books we chose.

This book and annotation exchange is not only a way for us to stay connected while we are both away at school, but it is also our contribution to saving an art and personal form of communication that is slipping away.

Participating in these activities will always hold more value to me than any material item or new product on the market.

The card Lucy wrote me joins a wall in my room decorated with the letters Ryan, my sister, and my other close friends have written me over the years. Underneath, a pile of books I have collected from used bookstores, birthdays, and Christmas’s are filled with annotations and dog-tailed pages.

My worry is that one day this collection will become a shrine for what we might let slip away. Until then, it is my own private museum of personal and emotional artifacts.

Carole Hodorowicz is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or cdhodorowicz@eiu.edu.

2 Comments

  • KateGladstone

    Handwriting matters — does cursive? Research shows that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are available on request.) Further research shows that the fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive. They join only the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving others unjoined, using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree. (Many people who think that they “print” actually write in this practical way without realizing that they do so. The handwriting of many teachers comes close: even though, often, those teachers have never noticed that they are not at all writing in the same 100% print or 100% cursive that they demand that their students should write.) Teaching material for such practical handwriting abounds — especially in much of the UK and Europe, where such practical handwriting is taught at least as often as the accident-prone cursive that too many North American educators venerate. (Again, sources are available on request.) For what it’s worth, there are some parts of various countries (parts of the UK, for instance, despite their mostly sensible handwriting ) where governmental mandates for 100% joined cursive handwriting have been increasingly enforced, without regard for handwriting practicality and handwriting research, In those parts of the world, there are rapidly growing concerns on the increasingly observed harmful educational/literacy effects (including bad effects on handwriting quality) seen when 100% joined cursive requirements are complied with: http://morrellshandwriting.co.uk/blog/

    Reading cursive, of course, remains important —and this is much easier and quicker to master than writing cursive. Reading cursive can be mastered in just 30 to 60 minutes, even by kids who print. Given the importance of reading cursive, why not teach it explicitly and quickly, once children can read print, instead of leaving this vital skill to depend upon learning to write in cursive? Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by cursive textbook publisher Zaner-Bloser.. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. Most — 55% — wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive. When even most handwriting teachers do not follow cursive, why glorify it? Cursive’s cheerleaders allege that cursive has benefits justifying absolutely anything said or done to promote it. Cheerleaders for cursive repeatedly allege research support — repeatedly citing studies that were misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant or by some other, earlier misrepresenter whom the claimant innocently trusts. What about cursive and signatures? Brace yourself: in state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)

    Questioned document examiners (specialists in the identification of signatures, verification of documents, etc.) find that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if following cursive’s rules at all, are fairly complicated: easing forgery. All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual. That is how any first-grade teacher immediately discerns (from print-writing on unsigned work) which child produced it. Mandating cursive to save handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to save clothing.

    Kate Gladstone
    DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest
    CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
    http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com handwritingrepair+media@gmail.com

  • Carole, you charmed me at “saving snail mail!” I own a stationery shop named Playa Paper. (Playa means beach in Spanish.) Our mission is to keep letter writing, sending invitations, and mailing cards alive, so your article was dear to my heart. If you haven’t already read it, I have a book recommendation for you and Ryan to read together: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I think you’ll both love it! I also invite you to keep in touch on your favorite social media “@PlayaPaper” or follow me on FB at https://www.facebook.com/playapaper – thanks! Vikki, Owner of Playa Paper xx

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Don’t let writing, reading slip away