It was a Saturday morning and the sun brightly spotlighted Bill Ford’s dining room table where he was teaching a young student the art of calligraphy. He was sharing his talents with 14-year-old Rebecca and her Dad, Jamie. Her lesson was a gift from her Dad, who was also interested in learning to create a more artful penmanship.
Paducah’s most experienced calligrapher, Bill Ford, told the father and daughter, “I learned cursive in 2nd grade and it evolved through the years to my present style. Currently I’m also teaching a young teenager. The incentive for him to learn came from his parents when he didn’t recognize his name written in cursive. There were also names on downtown Paducah buildings that were in cursive and when asked to pronounce or recognize, he was clueless.”
“I learned cursive in 2nd grade and it evolved through the years to my present style.”
Rebecca Futrell was already a gifted young artist, with natural talent, but has had a desire to learn calligraphy since early grade school. She is homeschooled and her penmanship was already good, but learning from Mr. Bill was an added treat. “It will be so great to know how to do if I start scrap booking. It’s becoming a lost ‘art’ so I want to learn and use it often as I write, maybe even address my sister’s wedding invitations. I feel blessed to have this time to learn from a real true artist. Mr. Bill’s style is extra creative. Our country’s founding fathers wrote documents like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence in cursive. We should be able to read them.”
Rebecca’s Dad, Jamie Futrell, had an additional motivation to bring his youngest daughter to Mr. Bill for the calligraphy lesson. He had been printing selected scriptures on notecards. He wanted to keep the cards to reference and then pass them on to his (3) children. He desired to make each card very legible and special. He knew Mr. Bill would be an excellent person to share the art. After the morning’s lesson, he and Rebecca both left inspired and ready to practice their newly acquired skill.
This past week we were reminded how writing (cursive) is a huge part of how our history has been recorded (before and since computers and technology in general have become the norm). As the country memorialized our beloved former President George H. W. Bush, we were reminded and shown countless letters he wrote during his life-all in cursive. Images of those hand scripted letters are not legible to a growing number of American students and even young adults.
“Our country’s founding fathers wrote documents like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence in cursive. We should be able to read them.”
This conversation prompted our discussion of the missing art of writing cursive or writing in cursive. Since 1990, when the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) was enacted by the legislature, Kentucky schools haven’t been “required” to teach cursive (in addition to printing) as part of their curriculum. Teachers continued to teach writing, but gradually thru the years, with no requirements, fewer elementary educators-especially those who were new, felt a need to include cursive in their curriculum. When Common Core was enacted in 2010 (school year 2011-2012) teachers were again given no directive to teach cursive.
By the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, cursive writing shall be included as a course of study in all elementary schools and shall be designed to ensure proficiency in cursive writing by the end of grade five (5).