An Interview with Linda Shrewsbury of CursiveLogic12 February 2015
CursiveLogic is a currently active Kickstarter project project that aims to teach children (or adults) cursive handwriting in four easy lessons. I have backed the project because I think it’s worth supporting though it’s not such an issue here in England. My children (aged 8 and 13) both learned cursive, or as we say here as joined up writing, at school although I have to say it’s very much a work in progress with my daughter and my son has what I like to call mathematicians’ handwriting (like his dad). It’s very much a part of the school curriculum still.
It takes me back to my very first fountain pen experience, too. This was 36 years ago, which, if you have ever seen me, I know must be hard to believe is possible. Back then you wrote in pencil at school until your handwriting was deemed to be an acceptable standard. When it was, and I was one of the very last in my class to reach it, you were allowed to use a long red fountain pen with blue cartridges. (They were made by Platignum apparently and one day I will find one on eBay.) It was a rite of passage.
I need to be clear that although I’ve seen a few behind the scenes videos that look impressive, I’ve not had the opportunity to try this out so I don’t know how well it works. This isn’t a review or a recommendation. CursiveLogic is an interesting and worthy project and so I wanted to find out more about it. I contacted Linda Shrewsbury, the inventor of the method and she kindly agreed to answer some questions for me.
Your Kickstarter page explains really well how you came to start this project. What have been your successes and challenges since that initial idea? What led you to choose Kickstarter as the way to progress your idea?
One of our big successes happened shortly before we launched the Kickstarter, in getting endorsed by Dr. William Klemm, a renowned Neuroscientist. We knew from our testing results that we had a unique tool, but his endorsement in Psychology Today, was great confirmation. Crowd-funding was really perfect for us because it provides a way both to generate revenue and get the product introduced.
Does your system work as well with left-handed children as with right-handed children?
I am aware of no factors that would make a difference based on a child’s dominant hand. The method’s focus on reinforcing basic shapes – the similarities common to groups of letters – should apply to either hand.
As someone who works in the English school system, where cursive handwriting is still very much a part of the curriculum, it’s hard to understand why it’s fallen out of favour so much in the USA. What led to so many schools choosing to teach a print style of handwriting?
Various changes in the US education system have led to the disappearance of handwriting education. The focus on standardized testing, used to grade the effectiveness of schools, encourages school systems to shortchange subjects that will not be on the standardized tests. This is combined with the digital revolution, which encourages a focus on keyboarding. The more recent “Common Core” standards adopted by many states did not require any handwriting training.
What are your favourite pens and other stationery items?
I must say that looking at lots of pen blogs during the past two week has whet my appetite for a fountain pen. I’ll be purchasing one very soon. Any suggestions for a newby? [Hmm… Kaweco Classic Sport or Pilot Metropolitan]
Are there any particular pens you would recommend to children learning with Cursive Logic? (Or to adults, for that matter.)
I like colored Sharpie’s for practicing CursiveLogic. Neon orange, lime green, silver and mauve go along with our instruction method and really add “an element of fun” to the learning process. The larger barrel size helps children especially with learning correct instrument grip. I experiment with all sorts of pencil grips and pencil sizes… anything that will aid in practicing a relaxed hand and a light grip. I teach students a way of releasing the hand that I dub “the celebrity grip.” It is modeled on a hand movement alternately called the parade wave, the Miss America wave, or the royal wave. I tease that if students plan on being famous, getting a “celebrity grip” will result in a great signature!
What’s your ambition for Cursive Logic? Where do you see it in three years time?
Our ambition at the moment is seeing the campaign funded!
CursiveLogic was inspired by the simple wish of one young man [Josh, who features in many of these photos] to sign his name and my simple prayer to God for an idea. I want to help a lot of people retain the simple dignity of a signature. I know and value the handwriting of every immediate family member. I cherish letters from grandparents who died long ago. Beyond the many strong arguments for cursive, the one that stirs me deeply is the idea that handwriting captures individuality and can preserve it for generations to come. A tradition so powerful is worth preserving!
In three years, I hope CursiveLogic is the way children in the US and beyond learn cursive writing and adults improve their penmanship. Big vision… but really what I hope!
If Linda has inspired you to support her Kickstarter project, be sure to head over there to back it before 20th February.