Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, April 29, 2011

A dying art?

The Case for Cursive
For centuries, cursive handwriting has been an art. To a growing number of young people, it is a mystery.

The sinuous letters of the cursive alphabet, swirled on countless love letters, credit card slips and banners above elementary school chalk boards are going the way of the quill and inkwell. With computer keyboards and smartphones increasingly occupying young fingers, the gradual death of the fancier ABC’s is revealing some unforeseen challenges.
Handwriting was the one class in school I had trouble with. My teacher insisted I write my cursive with a slant, and I naturally write straight up. I finally learned to compensate by turning the paper around so it was at a 45 degree angle from landscape, to deal with her, and reverted to my straight-up writing in later classes with teachers who weren't such sticklers. Of course, this was back in the days when teachers still occasionally tried to make left-handed people write with their right hand.

I love cursive, though. I love the flow, the look. I love calligraphy, too, and I'm fascinated with such scripts as Copperplate as well as the mediaeval ones. I fear that one day, people who are kids today will only know keyboards, or Swype strokes.

Maybe that's why spelling has become atrocious as well, and printing isn't much better for many. Granted, I've seen people my age who are nearly illegible in their writing, but still. Look at your grandparent's writing some day, or your great-grandparent's, and you'll see a world of difference even between my generation and one or two before it.

Of course, it would help if they still taught it properly in school, rather than limiting it to a single grade to focus on preparing for standardised tests that don't really test real learning anyway. It's so very sad when a college professor asks a classroom to raise their hands to see who uses cursive--and no one does.

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