The rise of the keyboard, and smart technology, has seen the tradition of handwriting fall by the wayside in most modern classrooms.
A woman in Scottsdale, Arizona, continues to keep the art of cursive writing alive, however, more than 20 years after officially retiring from teaching.
Marilyn Harrer, 91, began teaching cursive writing in 1951; after teaching for some years, she officially retired in 1997.
“When I retired from full time teaching, my teacher friends said they always liked the way the children in my class wrote and so they wanted to know if I wouldn’t come back and work in their classrooms,” said Harrer, azfamily.com reported.
After her retirement, she began volunteering her cursive writing instruction services at Anasazi Elementary in north Scottsdale.
Like using a computer, handwriting is a whole-body exercise.
“We talk about how to sit, how to hold your paper, how to write at a slant, how you hold your pencil,” explained Harrer.
After so many years honing her handwriting craft and passing it on to her students, she’s garnered from them the title “Cursive Queen.”
Harrer has racked up a number of accomplishments from her cursive teaching, sending forth 35 students to carry home the state handwriting title in Arizona, with two others becoming national cursive champions.
“Well I just expect the best from all children, and they respond,” she said.
Meanwhile, when volunteers were barred from institutions to curb the spread of the CCP virus, it did not stop Harrer from carrying out her usual instruction.
“We didn’t let COVID stop us,” she said. “I would go over to my daughter’s house and eat a nice dinner, and my grandson Grant would film me teaching the lessons.”
While cursive teaching has long been excluded from the curriculum in many schools, Harrer has a passion to keep the tradition alive.
To support her mission, she began a pen pal project that matches seniors with students, with some success.
“This is our third year, and we now have a surplus of people who want to be pen pals,” she said. “And they really look forward to doing it.”
Harrer has a plan to continue teaching cursive for as long as she can manage it, adding that research has proven a link between cursive handwriting and brain activity.