Kate, thanks for the excellent post–I’m bookmarking it to use in discussions with colleagues.
I’m imagining an argument in Nineveh about kids these days and how it’s still important to learn cuneiform even with this new alphabet thing from the Phoenicians.
It really is amazing how many pointless and contradictory things politicians want from an education system.
I wonder if schools should offer cursive, and perhaps calligraphy, in an after-school club. Or do those no longer exist?
How the blazes is cursive not faster than printing? Do people no longer take exams with extended written sections?
Well, when I took the GRE back in 2005 the whole thing was on the computer, including the essay.
Consider a ‘d’. To make a printed d you (well, I) just have to do a loop, and continue it upwards in a line. Finished - now you can head for the right spot to start the next letter. Whereas with cursive you’ve now got the job of retracing that line all the way down to the base just so you can make that silly tail and start the next letter from the bottom - which may not even be a good place to start it. And if your fine motor is not a strength, making that look nice slows you way down.
Nothing to do with writing in exams - I’m from the three-hour-handwritten-English-paper generation myself, but I was never remotely tempted to switch back to running writing for it. I had already given it up with whoops of glee when I hit high school.
Cursive always struck me as the written equivalent of talking with your hand over your mouth. As in, if I wrote a sentence in cursive and silently “read” it back to myself, that’s how it would sound.
Another one: in cursive, dotting your i/j’s or crossing your f/t/x’s come after you’ve finished your word. In contrast, I write an i or j almost in one stroke; just a downward dot-dash with the slightest lift of the pen. f/t/x requires a bit more movement, but not much (and sometimes you can see a trace of the loop I made).
So for a longer word like Mississippi, you basically have to rescan the entire word to dot your i’s. Even with practice it takes almost as long as it took to write in the first place.
Functionally, that’s a good analogy for it. The one that sprang to my mind is that cursive is the fedora of writing.
Tom Lehrer had some fun with this in “The Professor’s Song”:
(He performed this song at a blackboard and, at the word “minimum,” scrawled ////////////////.)
I never use cursive, except to sign my name (which I do nearly illegibly, it looks more like calligraphy than meaningful leters). When I need to actually write something, I print or quasi-print it.
Not quite how you mean it, but I wonder if globalization is one of the nails in the coffin of cursive. I mean, if someone from China has learned to read and write and speak English, isn’t expecting cursive a bit much?
Just a thought.
I learned cursive, but it was back before the continents split into their current shapes. I write longhand in birthday/Christmas letters and write postcards in cursive. That’s about it. Since my grandmother died, I don’t send snail mail to anyone – even my mom texts.
I try to print instead of writing in cursive, but I always end up hooking everything up. Most people see it as repeating strokes, but I find the repetitive pick up the pen, put down the pen much harder. I understand that it’s dying, I can accept that even though I don’t really understand the reasoning. I use Gregg shorthand abbreviations still, so I’m probably a complete anachronism.
I understand it is widely taught in Britain and is known there as joined up handwriting. http://www.cursivewriting.org/joined-up-handwriting.html
Anecdotally, I use print and a print/script mixture. I’m not convinced that script is actually faster. It certainly isn’t more legible. I opine that script is a remnant of fountain pens. If you try to print with a fountain pen, all the picking up and dropping of the pen gives you blotchy results. Script is appropriate for that technology; print is appropriate for pencils and the modern 10-25 cent ball point pen.
True story I fucking swear:
My mothers generation called it “penmanship” or “handwriting”.
So when my Ma came back from teacher conferences circa 1969 where my 3rd grade teacher told her I was doing much better with my “cursive”, she screamed and pounded me one for swearing in class.
I actually got a new bike out of it when she found out WTF my teacher was actually talking about.
I’m 56 and we started in the third grade. I noticed that the series of penmanship books we used went as far as grade 8, but I’m sure we didn’t keep at it for any more than two or three years tops.
My handwriting shows it.
No, it’s only mostly dead
This for me (except for the Catholic school part). I’m 48, learned cursive in elementary school, etc. I took took architectural drafting classes my last two years of high school, which taught me that nice “block printing”. I liked the way it looked and the ease of reading it, and by a few years after high school I’d essentially abandoned cursive for everything but my signature (and writing checks). Now, when forced to write by hand, everything is in a nice, tidy, all-caps block print. In fact, if I didn’t read as much as I do, I’d probably have forgotten even printed lowercase letters.
ETA: BTW, my cursive was always pretty good, never illegible. I just saw no reason to continue using it.
As hard as I try, I cannot find a post by any Kate in this thread. Excellent or otherwise. What am I missing?
Was this posted in the wrong thread? Is ‘Kate’ code for something? Was this reference just an inside joke? Am I the only one who noticed this?
It appears a moderator has deleted the posts without even bothering to note that he or she had done so.