Friday, October 20, 2006

It's Just Not in the Script Anymore

There's been a lot of talk lately about the decline of cursive writing, and I like others, have to ask: Does it really matter? A recent Washington Post story noted that just 15% of the nearly million-and-a-half students who took the SAT last year wrote their answers in cursive (the others printed in block letters); considering how much that generation has come to rely on text messages and IM's to communicate, that's not at all surprising.

But again--what's the loss? Sure, some handwriting experts say that students who lack penmanship skills often have trouble organizing their thoughts as well, but that is likely no longer the case in terms of today's reality. Historians may lament this loss as well (will museums of the future display the personal emails of some notable public figure, and will husbands and wives keep a collection of printed-out IM's of love in the absence of love letters?), but ultimately, in today's world, what's more important is the content of what is written, rather than its form.

KRLD newsman Mike Rogers covered this subject today in his The Other Side of the News; he interviews a Chicago educator and penmanship expert who notes that the decline of penmanship started way back in the fifties. He also points out that some material that's machine-printed instead of written, such as Christmas cards, really lacks the personal touch. (However, even he agrees that the cursive capital Q that looks like the number 2 is ridiculous.)

Except for my (admittedly horrid) signature, I haven't written anything in cursive since around my sophomore year in college. I remember when I started printing the name of the recipient on checks (which itself has become an anachronism for me, since the only bill I don't pay online anymore is my mortgage payment), and from there it pretty much snowballed into school assignments and what-not, and eventually, it all moved over to the computer. Anyone who's seen my handwriting would say that this development is no loss at all.

I can understand why some traditionalists would lament the loss of the art of cursive writing, but we'd be crazy not to take advantage of the technology that's available to us. I'm sure that someone once complained when the abacus and the slide rule went out of favor, but the things that replaced them are simply superior.

Besides, if someone really wanted to see a flowing script, we could always do this.

When's the last time you wrote anything in cursive?

My favorite headline of the week so far: Russia probes reports Spanish king shot drunk bear.


James said...

I hardly ever wrote anything in cursive - my handwriting is shocking and so I never picked up cursive very well :)

Eric Grubbs said...

Cursive is a writing style? I thought it was only the name of the band that put out my favorite record this year. :-)