Inspiring Generosity


The Surprising Generational Divide

                     Cursive divides us?! Katie Phillips@Pixabay

There’s no reason you would have known Zillah Paeth.

She was a long-time member of my church who passed away nearly two decades ago. She was elegant and sweet. Oddly, the thing I remember about Zillah was how she wrote the “Z” in her name. Her cursive was beautiful. The perfect lines with their swoops and curlicues made me swoon. Zillah’s years of signing and writing “Zs” created a piece of art that I was never able to master.
This week I read in The Atlantic that “Cursive is History.” The article was written by someone who should know: the former President of Harvard University, Drew Gilpin Faust.
Faust details how in 2010, “cursive was omitted from the new national Common Core standards for K-12 education.” In her class, Faust is now encountering students who have never had to write or read cursive. 

Her examples are eye-opening. One student begged off working on a project about Virginia Woolf because it would require her to read some of Woolf’s hand-written letters. Others were asked about reading comments that professors wrote on their papers. “Many of the students found these illegible. Sometimes they would ask a professor to decipher them; more often they just ignored them.”

It seems cursive just might be the new Cyrillic.
What does the demise of cursive handwriting mean for you?
I am a huge proponent of handwritten notes. Who doesn’t like getting one?
Well…apparently if it’s in cursive and you’ve never been taught how to read cursive, it might go unread all together.

It’s not all that welcomed. Shock! Dismay!
You don’t want that to happen.

Consider the following before you write a thank you note or a word of encouragement:

  • Which generation are you writing to?
  • Which would that person prefer: cursive or print?
  • Is your cursive legible?
  • Can you just as easily print your message?

If you’re still of the generation that learned cursive (curse you “Q”!), it may be time to adapt to the next generation who did not. The point of a thank you letter or a note of encouragement is to convey gratitude or empathy. It is not to make a point. Nor is it to force someone to decipher letters that to them just might look like ancient hieroglyphics.
Go ahead and write a note to a Gen Z-er today. While you do that, I will – in Zillah’s memory – work to conquer the cursive Z. Only 9,999 tries to go.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she has helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. While watching a headless hand write the cursive alphabet might sound like torture to you, 2.6 million people have found it fascinating. She quibbles with the hand's “Q” and “Z.” You can reach Cesie at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.

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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.