Saturday, September 19, 2009


I recently read this article on MSN about the decline of cursive writing in our schools, and I have to say, I don't see what the big deal is.  If you're too young to remember when cursive writing was synonymous with penmanship, then consider yourself lucky.

I understand that there is a certain romanticism associated with cursive writing, but it's not like learning to write cursive is like learning a whole new language, just a different font.  If done correctly, one's result is a thing of beauty that brings to mind poetry, love letters, and an eighteenth century aesthetic.  If done incorrectly, as by 99.999% of the English speaking world, you get a completely unreadable mess of scribbles that brings to mind memories of forged truancy notes and accidentally amputated limbs (because surgeons couldn't read the doctor's writing, see?  Forget it.).

Cursive writing's sweeping design is meant to be swifter and more flowing than standard printed text, but one also needs to realize that this was developed in a time when people of all creeds used quills and inkwells instead of pencils and pens - let alone computers and cell phones - to write their notes because it was easier to drag an ink-sodden feather or nib across a page than letting the ink splatter and drip all over it.  I am more amazed that this romantic fallacy has endured beyond the age of the typewriter let alone into the computer age.

Parents concerned about their child not being forced to use cursive writing for everything need to realize that they are being stupid; the only reason you want your kids to learn it is because you were forced to learn it all those years ago.  I'm sure that there's more than a few of us out there that remember the pointless drills, the countless hours of criticism about the shape and form of our cursive letters simply because we don't possess the natural coordination to do it properly.  Also, try getting the proper instruction when you're left-handed in a class where everyone but you and maybe one other student is right-handed.  That's enough to give me nightmares.  Just because you were made to suffer an outdated practice does not entitle you to force it upon your child.  Grow a brain and come to your senses.

I'm not even sure that cursive works as a time saver as opposed to print anyway.  A few of my friends and I are every bit as capable of writing standard as fast and messy as cursive.  It really makes no difference which one we use, though I know a few younger people who didn't waste their youth on this pointless exercise and who are now far more capable typists than my high-school educated butt (guess who is more marketable in today's dwindling job bank).

In conclusion, if you want to expose children to this pointless "skill," then do so only briefly at an early age, and maybe set up calligraphy clubs for the kids that want to continue with it, but don't force it on the rest of them just because you're bitter that you had to learn it.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good post. I've always wondered what the purpose of adding that new "font" to our elementary school repertoire was. It only serves to contort the printing style we'd just learned into some unintelligible hybrid that we're stuck with for life. I'd rather try to read pure printing any day.

BTW. I've been enjoying having "rediscovered" your blog.