The Lost Virtue of Cursive – The New Yorker

The laminated papers with cursive-writing instructions, taped to every one of the tyke-size school desks with the sweeping attached arms, were sad and beautiful at once, in the special way of obsolete educational technology, like the Apple IIe, or the No. 2 pencil itself. For me, a writer of strong fuddy-duddy credentials, the sad dramatic irony really was too much. You see, cursive isn’t being taught in my daughters’ school anymore, and hasn’t been for at least six years, as long as I’ve had children in the public schools. Who would tell the cursive that it was no longer needed?

I wish I would write cursive. Naturally, in my line of work, I type a lot. I touch type, and can type fairly quickly. (According to TypeIt4Me, 83 wpm.) But I like the tactile nature of handwriting. I always keep a pad on my desk to take notes, and record notes in notebooks. But my handwriting is ugly; even I have trouble re-reading it at times. It’s always been that way; I never really learned cursive, and have always use a sort of printing that, while efficient, isn’t very attractive.

Source: The Lost Virtue of Cursive – The New Yorker

8 thoughts on “The Lost Virtue of Cursive – The New Yorker

  1. I remember penmanship classes, and the torture and shame with which they were taught. At the time, I wondered “why?” This may have been my first subject, for which I asked myself whether I would ever use it in later life. I continued to use it in school until sometime in junior high, by which time, like that of most of my peers, my handwriting had become almost illegible. I switched back to printing, and was able to avoid total degrade. Once I changed over to typing, my printing-handwriting improved somewhat.

    I’ve always wondered about the supposed speed advantages of cursive. When I switched back to printing, I felt like I slowed down some. I didn’t try to do any measurements. But in classes, copying from the board, I could see that my printing was about as fast as many other students using cursive, and faster than a few.

    I can still write in cursive, but I seldom do. I think my printing looks nicer than my cursive. I am envious of my very few friends who write in a beautiful cursive, or in a more beautiful printing than mine.

    • I would be satisfied with my printed handwriting was a little bit more readable. But I do like the idea of cursive handwriting; has class.

  2. I remember penmanship classes, and the torture and shame with which they were taught. At the time, I wondered “why?” This may have been my first subject, for which I asked myself whether I would ever use it in later life. I continued to use it in school until sometime in junior high, by which time, like that of most of my peers, my handwriting had become almost illegible. I switched back to printing, and was able to avoid total degrade. Once I changed over to typing, my printing-handwriting improved somewhat.

    I’ve always wondered about the supposed speed advantages of cursive. When I switched back to printing, I felt like I slowed down some. I didn’t try to do any measurements. But in classes, copying from the board, I could see that my printing was about as fast as many other students using cursive, and faster than a few.

    I can still write in cursive, but I seldom do. I think my printing looks nicer than my cursive. I am envious of my very few friends who write in a beautiful cursive, or in a more beautiful printing than mine.

    • I would be satisfied with my printed handwriting was a little bit more readable. But I do like the idea of cursive handwriting; has class.

  3. My cursive writing was never particularly good, and has only gotten worse over the last half-century, after I learned to type. Back then, papers, essays, etc, were written with a fountain pen. These days, the only real use of cursive is for writing your signature. We’re not far away from biometrics as a means of identification. (Note that the distinctiveness of individual handwriting is biometric.)

  4. My cursive writing was never particularly good, and has only gotten worse over the last half-century, after I learned to type. Back then, papers, essays, etc, were written with a fountain pen. These days, the only real use of cursive is for writing your signature. We’re not far away from biometrics as a means of identification. (Note that the distinctiveness of individual handwriting is biometric.)

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