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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Write it down

Posted March 12

Pages from Amanda Lamb's father's travel journal.

I've heard a lot of discussion lately about how unfortunate it is that children are not taught to write in cursive anymore. Basically, the only time anyone writes in cursive is when they sign their names. And the thought process is that if they can't write it, they can't read it either.

This hit home for me last week when I was going through a box of my dad's old things that he had given me. I found a diary he wrote during a trip to Europe with his parents in 1958. It was written in cursive, and I had a hard time deciphering a lot of it, even though I was trained as a young child to write this way.

But it wasn't the handwriting that struck me the most, it was the fact that my father took time to write such a detailed journal with a million interesting moments about what he saw, what he did and what he thought about it.

This is something I could never picture my father doing today. He is not much of a reader or a writer. But, then I realized, that back then there were no smart phones to record every moment of your trip on Facebook. There was no Internet and probably no television in their hotel rooms. And this was the best way for him to preserve these memories, along with slides that he had developed after the trip.

So, my takeaway from this is not that kids should learn how to write cursive, it's that kids should learn how to write, period. There is something so primitive, so real and so personal about physically writing something down that you've experienced.

This can be achieved on a computer or an iPad, but taking pen to paper is a lost art and one that I'm afraid our children will not appreciate because they didn't grow up doing this. For the most part, writing is reserved for making lists or formal thank you notes.

I recently went on a college tour with my older daughter, and her college counselor at school advised her to keep a journal of what she saw and how she felt about it so that she could look back later on her impressions of each school.

Not only did I think that this was a brilliant idea, but the exercise itself brought back memories of my own journals when I traveled as a young person. Of course, we have many photos of our trip on my iPhone, posted on social media and quite a few that will be uploaded and printed. But I suspect that journal will be the best touchstone of the trip.

So, I think in the future, when we travel somewhere, I will encourage my girls to journal, and I will do the same. Maybe someday one of their daughters will find a hand-written journal in a dusty box, yellowed and dog-eared, that contains treasured moments captured in the purest form of expression, with pen and paper.

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.

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