I have recently developed a Planner and Journal series to impart time management techniques, as well as empower by sharing tools, tips, advice, and quotes, as well as resources. My latest release is theEveryday Excellence Student Planner, featuring a phenomenal, child runway model, little Ms. Celai West and the chic, vibrant photography of Ms. Katie Moffit (ISBN No. 978-0991489299, www.tinyurl.com/EverydayExcellencePlanner).
In addition to housing a daily class schedule, these planners are filled with activity sheets that give little ladies a preview to those important life lessons that are often omitted from the school curriculum (like cursive writing and how to tell time on an analog clock).
Reading, writing, and arithmetic—they were called the three R(s) in my day, though I never understood why. The actual letters abbreviate as R.W.A. Writing, though, meant Composition (composing language into statements) and Essay (writing our opinions to explain what we feel on a subject). In days gone by, writing also meant penmanship. We learned to print and also, to write in script, known also as Cursive Handwriting.
We were graded on our ability to closely mimic the font samples we were given. We practiced daily until our efforts slowly gave way to our own, unique, signature. Then, we learned to improve our handwriting, making it neat and legible. The signature was ever-so-important, because it would uniquely identify us on more important papers later on: contracts, a driver’s license, checks, as well as plastics, i.e. debit and credit cards, anywhere and everywhere we’re required to be legally bound. I also remember that those who were illiterate were permitted to mark forms and documents with a single ‘X.’ Prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passing a literacy test was a requirement in several states, a tactic used to exclude certain people (more specifically people of color) from their right to vote in major elections.
A few short years ago, I learned that the New York Board of Education no longer required students to learn and practice Cursive Handwriting. The lost art was deemed an outdated skill, as we transition into the digital era and the use of digital signatures. While so few others seem to notice or care, I pondered on all the old Wild West movies where I’d seen the ignorant and uneducated mark a crude X on contracts presented to them to be signed and agreed to. The educated person, who would have the contract drafted, would then add their signature with artistically, stylish cursive. Somehow, even when I watched the classic Wild West movies as a small child, this was obvious: if a person couldn’t write their name, they couldn’t read. And if they couldn’t read, they could not comprehend or discern the terms of the contract they’d just signed.
Cursive, though, is still required learning at private, parochial, and ‘better’ schools. So, with dread, I foresee a future distinction, where clearly, telltale signatures give away social status and a person’s limited education. The lesser educated using printed lettering, while the educated leave their signature in cursive handwriting. This has prompted me to find a solution.
I encourage anyone with a daughter, niece, or goddaughter to consider this perpetual student planner a gift that keeps on giving.
Eartha Watts Hicks is editor-in-chief of Harlem World Magazine, member of The Harlem Writers Guild, author of Love Changes, and publisher of Earthatone Books, including A Planner Is A Girl’s Best Friend. www.earthatone.com. Connect @Earthatone.