Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cursive writing--Going Like The Dodo?

What does a recently discovered written language of the Picts (an Iron Age society that existed in Scotland from 300 to 843) and modern day cursive have in common?

If those in position of choosing future education standards have their way, both will be extinct.

In an article that caught my eye, a young court witness was asked to read a letter out loud, and her response was, "I don't read cursive."

Two states, as early as 2011, dropped cursive from their curricula in favor of teaching keyboard proficiency.  And from this article Is Cursive Writing Dead?  "Very small proportions of adults use cursive for their day-to-day writing," Polikoff said. "Much of our communication is done on a keyboard, and the rest is done with print."

Seems ducks are lining up in a row to do away with cursive.

I don't know which side of this you are on--whether you feel  it's important to maintain the cursive teaching standard, or if you feel that  it's teaching time that could be better spent.  But the idea of removing cursive from classrooms did bring some thoughts to my mind.

The first thought is our signatures. I like mine. ~smiling~ And I think a signature is a matter of pride and often, a matter of promise, but in all respects, I guess it's not actually a guarantee of identity, huh?  So, for legal documents, deeds, marriage licenses, a driver's license...  Will we thumbprint? Retina scans for everyone?

You know, I have a scifi-ish ms that actually utilizes that.  The future is now.

I like signing birthday cards in cursive. My big, sweeping letter T topped off by a fancy loop, and the way I church up the Y in my last name. I'll miss them...

Will our historical documents become unreadable relics to the masses? The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, for a few examples. And future generations will be relegated to the word of historians and scholars educated in the ancient written language of Cursive.  Hmm... sounds sort of unbelievable.

But, think back to that ancient language of the Picts.  (For article on the recent discovery of it, click HERE)  Someone, a long time ago, could read it and write it.  But for some reason--albeit likely a much different reason than cursive is headed the way of the dodo, it became unused.

What I do find fascinating is that we are experiencing an inevitable part of existence. Language evolves. Spoken and written, it changes over time. What is so different about this bit of evolution (in my lifetime) that makes it so very fascinating is that it's such a dramatic change. It's not being precipitated by a tribe breaking up and drifting in different directions for better hunting grounds, and it's not because an entire culture is being decimated by disease or war.

We are bearing witness to such a staggering change.

And it is staggering. We are on the precipice of a great change that will affect millions. We will create the first generation of people who will NOT understand what it is still mostly a commonplace means of communication, a means of correspondence.  Staggering...

I use cursive everyday. I do considerable writing at work, but admit that it's mostly in the form of notes in my lab notebook. Reports generated by that lab notebook data invariably take the form of a Word doc, or an Excel form. But, maybe me and my longhand kindred spirits are a bit like dinosaurs. Yet, I do like much of modern technology.

In summary, nostalgia aside, that leaves me sitting on the fence. My jury is still deliberating this one.

Where are you on this? Do you use cursive? Is it obsolete? Continue teaching it, or stop? 


  1. It is neater when I use print. It is funny though as I use cursive for lower case f s g and y even when I print. It was a habit that never got corrected or caught by any of my elementary school teachers.
    I love cursive.
    In India a lot of guys get an OK for getting married if their cursive is good, as most marriages are arranged by our elders. An uncle of my husband was offered the hand of his boss's daughter just because his cursive was beautiful:)

    1. Ha! Munir, I had not thought about it, but my print is a blend of cursive and print too. And it is the same letters as you use cursive1 I'll go even further and say that if a word starts with an s, I print it, but if the occurs in the body of the word, it is cursive. Hmm, future generations likely won't.

      Thanks for the glimpse into your culture. And NICE to see you. :-) Hope you're having a good summer.

  2. This makes me sad. I intend to teach my kids cursive, no matter what the schools do.

    Have a lovely weekend. ☺

    1. I think it's a beautiful means of communicating., Dana. Kudos for teaching your children! :-)

  3. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Our system abandoned cursive when my son was in third grade. I agree it is more important for them to learn to type, and my kids will probably do very little writing in their lives.

    Personally I write quite a bit, taking notes at work or jotting down snippets for my own writing. But my handwriting has gotten sloppier and sloppier as I type more. Like others mentioned, I tend to use a mixture of print and cursive when I write.

    1. Hi Cindy :-) I take longhand notes, too; it's faster. When I try to take notes \using a computer, I have a disconnect between the creative part of my brain--even the analytical part f my brain, and my fingertips. BUT, I wonder if the children growing up today with technology no more foreign than their own hands, will take notes on some sort of personal device. They are fast--look at how fast teens can text.

      A change is a comin' whether we like it or not, I reckon. :-)

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your opinion! :-)

  4. I can understand youngsters not learning how to write cursive, but being unable to read it? That is still essential. Not everything is electronic yet, nor likely to be in the foreseeable future.

    It's often important to be able to write quickly and neatly at work. Thrashing out ideas in workshops doesn't work half as well with technology getting in the way. Flipcharts and post-it notes are the order of the day, and offices and meeting rooms can never have too many whiteboards IMO.

  5. Good point, Ian. As long as it is still commonplace, it's not a good idea to chuck teaching the entire system. I'm glad my children know how to read it, and I've been inspired by Dana's comment to teach my granddaughter (she's going into K this year)should our local school district opt not to teach it.

    That is an excellent observation you've made about thrashing out ideas. A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting in our Corporate conference room. A couple of customers from an enormous off-shore company attended and we were actually thrashing out ideas, having a thinktank about some problems with a product. And you know, we all had laptops with us, but we all used the writing pads and pens that had been provided for those in attendance. The only thing anyone used a laptop for was to look up data--I guess it saved carrying a bozx of file folders with us. :-)The youngest person in attendance was 50 years old. If there had been people in their 20s there, I wonder if they would have used a digital means of taking notes?

    Thanks for visiting! It is good to see you!! :-)

  6. I am terrified that future Americans will no longer be able to read or write cursive! Will it become like Egyptian hieroglyphics, only understood by a few with extensive training? O-M-G!

    Personally I prefer typing to writing for my story writing and quick notes to friends, but I do miss the days when friends would exchange long letters embellished with various doodles. It's just a more personal way of communicating. My handwriting isn't as clear as typing and I did sometimes use a typewriter for personal letters for that reason.

    But thinking about how the country's original documents are mostly in cursive--and calligraphy, which is merely fancy cursive--I want to handwrite more stuff. Maybe I'm living in the past but I think it's important to keep cursive alive. Much of the world may move to other ways to communicate and identify ourselves, but probably not every single town or village will be able to do that. Some places will always lag behind, and the potential consequences are scary.

    What will the world be like 5 or 8 generations from now, eh?

  7. Yeah, it's crazy, huh? The knowledge we have now will be in the hands of scholars. They;ll be held in esteem for their ability to translate this archaic written form of language. It is not good, I think, that people will have to rely upon the words of others to tell them what historical documents say.

    In much the same sense, followers of all religions exist in the same fog, completely dependent upon scholars to tell them what the ancient texts say. I personally think that a lot of misogynistic men have had their way with holy-book translations...

    See you in the morning, dear girl! Thanks for visiting. Must get some sleep. :-)