Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Dying Art

Earlier this week ABC News ran an item on the death of cursive writing. Apparently 41 of the 50 states no longer require children to learn to read and write cursive; those lessons have been "quietly" replaced by lessons in keyboarding.  Feelings run high on both sides of this debate.  Proponents of cursive think its elimination is the first step in a speedy slide into barbarism.  Those in favor of eliminating it simply believe it's no longer necessary. 

I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, most cursive is easier to read than printing and at its best it is a beautiful, elegant art form.  On the other hand, the vast majority of us no longer write long documents by hand.  What would be lost if we printed our greeting cards and shopping lists?  Sure, we'd lose all those illegible prescriptions and the science of handwriting analysis, but would that be so bad?  Even our cursive signatures could be replaced by fancy printing, electronic signatures, or fingerprints.  After all, Xs used to be accepted as legal signatures for the illiterate, and I've been electronically signing the documents related to the sale of our house.  Cursive is time-consuming and difficult to learn, especially for those of us who are left-handed.  Why not skip it?

To the woman ABC interviewed who stated she will fight to retain cursive so that her children can read the letters from their grandparents: it's a losing battle, honey.  Even if you teach your kids cursive, they won't use it when writing to their grandchildren.  Who knows - by then keyboarding may be obsolete and everyone communicating via telepathy.

If your handwriting is barely legible, it makes them think that you are not really an organized person. That you are writing too fast, and you are not thinking about it. ~ Adam Levinson

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