On Handwriting

I can’t write in cursive.

In elementary school cursive was taught in third grade. I skipped over third grade, went straight from second to fourth. In fourth grade, I had to play “catch-up” on cursive. I won’t say that I had great cursive handwriting, but it was good enough, and through junior high school and the first years of high school I routinely used cursive.

Somewhere along the line, though, I stopped using cursive and went back to printing. I have stories, papers, and notes I wrote in high school in print, not cursive, though the printing looks as though it were done by a palsied hand, the lines are so jagged and ill-formed. In college my notes were done entirely in print.

About ten years ago, I realized with some dismay that the only thing I could write in cursive was my name.

An article in today’s Raleigh News & Observer shows that I’m hardly unique. “Many teachers say cursive, not to mention polished handwriting altogether, is poised for extinction. They blame keyboards and a fading emphasis on penmanship for its doom.” Though the article blames the increased use of the computer in the classroom and for homework, another explanation is suggested. “Keyboards take most of the rap for accelerating the nose dive in handwriting quality, but [language arts teacher Rebecca] Burke and other long-time teachers think that’s only half of the story. Students respond to expectations, they say, and teenagers are no longer expected to wield pencils with finesse.”

I see some truth in that–in high school the requirement that work be done in cursive evaporated, and I always thought that my cursive, though adequate, wasn’t the best, and for note-taking in class I found that I could print faster than I could write. In the working world print has been effective in getting the message across. So why write cursive? I wish I had a good answer for that.

One thought on “On Handwriting

  1. In college, I think, I started writing print…my cursive handwriting is atrocious…I can often not read what I write….Print is nomaly better.

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