Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cursive Writing

Apparently it's a dying art.

I'm trying to decide whether I'm sad to see it go.

Being a child of the 70's, learning cursive was a rite of passage for me in school and I took it very seriously. Back then, I understood that I was a child, the world was designed for adults, and my entire job as a child was to learn all the skills that I would need to function as an adult in an adult world.

It just made sense. I never questioned or resented it.

And cursive was just another adult skill. Or as one commenter put it: "[Cursive] USED TO INDICATE a certain amount of discipline and intelligence. Ya know? Like, for sure, English grammer?"

From a practical standpoint, with the ubiquity of keyboards and computers, cursive has lost some of its necessity as a useful tool. Mostly these days, people type - whether to write letters or take notes. For what few analog writing tasks remain, block printing is no less effective, efficient, legible, or practical than script.

But it IS less elegant. It's common, dull, and childish-looking.

Let the world abandon it. I probably won't notice. But like knowing Latin, musical notation, or html coding, I'll keep embracing my knowledge and mastery of script as a quaint elitist quirk that makes me better - in certain ways - than people who don't know it.

Because I *do* so enjoy feeling smug and superior when it's warranted.


  1. I always hated cursive and I'm glad to hear they aren't teaching kids to write it any longer, but, at the same time, I'm appalled to find out kids can't even read it these days.

  2. >>>But it IS less elegant. It's common, dull, and childish-looking.

    I bailed on cursive during my years as an engineering student. Just didnt' seem "engineery" enough. That was late '80s. I use cursive so rarely now that mine has devolved into something childish-looking. 6th grade me had better cursive penmanship than I have now.

    On the bright side, you can't bump the insert key when you're handwriting.

  3. Heh. I just popped the Insert key off yesterday. Don't miss it at all.

  4. The only time I ever used cursive was when I was forced to learn it. Even in junior high and high school I took all my notes in block print, my only concession to growing older being I no longer used a big chief tablet.

    I guess I've always viewed it as not that much different from calligraphy.

  5. I'm a southern woman. There is nothing like the elegance of a handwritten invitation or thank you note, in cursive. I feel your smug superiority.

    My new grammar bandwagon is objective vs subjective case. I'm growing less and less tolerant of seeing "This is Johnny and I on the dance floor," or "Jim and me are going to the NASCAR races." I may have to go nuclear on Facebook.

  6. While I can read script, I find that there are some people I just can't translate what they've written.

    I've never had this trouble with block print.

  7. An archaic form from when if you stopped moving your pen for too long you would cause a spot to form. With new kinds of inks this is making a comeback but with most normally well engineered pens this doesn't happen.

    If you still use a fountain pen or a bird quill dipped in a well, then this is for you.

  8. Prof - thank you, that's one of the few arguments I've heard that makes me inclined to be ok with letting cursive go - that basically it's the 3.5" floppy disc of writing technology.

    I guess the best way to look at it at this point is like learning a second language - occasionally handy, but rarely necessary.

  9. Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?

    Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citation on request.)

    Reading cursive still matters -- this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

    Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)

    Yours for better letters,
    Kate Gladstone
    CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
    Director, the World Handwriting Contest
    Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app for iPhone/iPad

  10. If there were an award for "Most Relevant Comment", Kate would win.

    I confess, I grew up strictly Palmer Method, but ditched a lot of the capital letters for "print-style" in my teens.