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Thu Jun 27, 2013, 12:54 PM

Rachel Jeantel, witness at Zimmerman trial, can't read or write in cursive. Is that a big deal? [View all]

Today I was on Reddit and came across an article about today's developments in the Zimmerman trial.

George Zimmerman Witness Can't Read Letter She 'Wrote' About Shooting:
A teenage friend of Trayvon Martin was forced to admit today in the George Zimmerman murder trial that she did not write a letter that was sent to Martin's mother describing what she allegedly heard on a phone call with Martin moments before he was shot.

In a painfully embarrassing moment, Rachel Jeantel was asked to read the letter out loud in court.

"Are you able to read that at all?" defense attorney Don West asked.

Jeantel, head bowed, eyes averted whispered into the court microphone, "Some but not all. I don't read cursive."

It sent a hush through the packed courtroom.

I found this immediately disturbing and was profoundly sorry that the young lady had to admit such a thing, in open court, and in such a notorious and publicized trial. It made me sad and then angry. And while I was doing what I usually do when I'm angry about something, composing a post in order to inflict it on all of you here at DU, another much simpler thought occurred to me. I walked into the other room where my 11 year old was studying the periodic table -just kidding, he was playing LEGO Lord of the Rings- and asked him if he knew how to read and write cursive and other questions about the teaching of it in school. I also got out a ballpoint pen and a pad and had him read a couple of things I wrote and write a couple of things for me, as well.

Thankfully, he could read and write it but couldn't do the capitals very well- didn't know them all- and although he's moving into 6th grade when school starts up again, he said they only covered cursive in fourth grade but not fifth. I asked him if he hadn't had any writing assignments this year which had to be turned in, in cursive, and he said he hadn't.

Is...this...a...big...deal? Or maybe I should ask, isn't this a big deal?




I realize we live in the digital age and all but I was exploring why I found the whole issue so upsetting. First, for me cursive is the writing style adults use. When learning to write, moving from printed block letter to cursive was a signifier that I was becoming an adult, writing as one.

Is this a universal view or is it just me?

Second, I was surprised to find another more persistent thought bothering me: How can you write a decent love letter if you don't do it in cursive? How can you properly lasso a heart without letters fashioned from dreamy curves and loops? I imagine a love poem printed out in block letters and it strikes me as something out of Flowers for Algernon.

Is this only a big deal to me or is...America "moving on" or something?

PB

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