June 10, 2003
Cursive's Demise: Good Riddance

Time to do a little dance, because cursive is on its way out:

Handwriting experts fear that the wild popularity of e-mail, instant messages and other electronic communication, particularly among kids, could erase cursive within a few decades.

For as long as I can remember I've been a practical guy when it comes to learning. Even when I was in kindergarten the teachers had a devil of a time getting me to outline my coloring books. "Why?" I'd ask, "they've already got outlines!" It was such a colossal waste of time.

Cursive writing was another teeth-grinding exercise in redundancy. I already knew how to write. If the way I was doing it was right in the first grade but wrong in the third, why the hell did you teach me the first way at all? The books I was reading certainly weren't in cursive, they were in print, something I'd already been taught. I watched secretaries on TV type things for crying out loud. They printed things, they didn't "cursive" them.

I very rapidly decided that, like math (when was the last time you did long division on paper?), cursive classes were just another mind-numbingly boring and unnecessary thing grownups forced children to do because that's what their grownups had forced them to do. To me, grade school wasn't about learning, it was about various kinds of revenge.

I know there are parents out there smiling condescendingly saying "oh you just wait mister, you'll see." I mean, look at this:

Parents who pride themselves on their penmanship often bemoan their children's cursive ... Many adults pine for a return to the Palmer Method or even its fancier predecessor, Spencerian.

"Cursive was so character-defining when I was in school," says Amy Greene, whose 9-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son prefer keyboards to cursive in their Palo Alto classrooms. "The way you wrote something was considered part of your inner being, your core, your worth. ... Now it's considered an anachronism."

Pardon me while I polish up your rose-colored glasses, I truely am sorry the world is changing right before your very eyes. Cursive was an anachronism thirty-five years ago, probably more. It's losing ground, dying out, not because kids are lazy (it takes real balls for someone born between 1946 and 1960 to say that), or because the teachers just don't take the time. It's dying out because it's inferior to the new way of doing things. I know, I know, it's such a damned shame anyway, isn't it? Such a shame that we're losing one of the very cornerstones of classic public education...

You know, that what you write is less important than the way it is put on the page.

And before you try some snappy comeback about "what good is what you write if people can't read it?" I want you to please explain to me how this is easier to read than this.

Posted by scott at June 10, 2003 09:21 AM

eMail this entry!

I wonder how people will write their "signatures" if cursive is eliminated.

Posted by: battie on June 10, 2003 10:10 AM

Battie, I would guess you have never looked at Scott's signature. lol

Posted by: Pat Johnson on June 10, 2003 10:16 AM

Does his "signature" look like little, decrepid, horribly mangled stick-men in the midst of a masive seizure, during a level 9 earthquake at a rave?

Posted by: Skullkyng on June 10, 2003 11:05 AM

That is a perfect description Skullkyng!

Posted by: Pat on June 10, 2003 12:53 PM

Long Division does actually have some value. If you don't have a calculator or laptop on you, you need to be able to do things yourself. It's not redundant as printing makes cursive.

Posted by: Sherri on June 10, 2003 04:51 PM

New signature? I say thumbprint or iris scan.

Posted by: Ellen on June 10, 2003 06:22 PM

i'm surprised teachers haven't stopped teaching that by now. my handwriting is bad enough as print, but as cursive? looks like a kitten on crack wrote it.

Posted by: Samkit on June 10, 2003 08:11 PM

Used long division everytime I get gas; to figure out my milage. I use cursive when I take notes in meetings. However, the writing is liberally sprinkled with "print" letters and no one can read it (not even me half the time).

Posted by: Bogie on June 11, 2003 06:20 AM

I pretty much always write in print. Sloppy handwriting = me. I shoulda been a doctor considering my cursive sucks ass.

So when someone wants a famous person's autograph/signature, you'll scan their iris or have a stamp-pad ready for them?? ;)

Posted by: battie on June 11, 2003 01:14 PM

Amen . . . I learned both Spencerian and Palmer methods in school, and my handwriting still looks like it was written by an overcaffeinated ferret.

Posted by: LadyAsh on June 12, 2003 06:24 PM

I am a computer person by trade; however, I used to be a Secretary (my notehand was and still is cursive, and those that learned it with me would still be able to read it).
Cursive will never disappear, though the kids nowadays still "have to" learn it. I guess we'll be able to "write" about the next generation without their knowledge by using cursive. ;-P

Posted by: Cindy on June 14, 2003 11:37 PM

LOL @ Cindy

Posted by: Pat on June 15, 2003 03:11 AM
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