Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cn u rd ths?

Cursive handwriting is on the way to extinction in this country, according to the Washington Post ("The Handwriting Is on the Wall: Researchers See a Downside as Keyboards Replace Pens in Schools"; byline Margaret Webb Pressler, 11 October 1006, page A01)."When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters." And they truly are block letters. Nobody's even taught the proper forms for lower-case letters. The "handwriting" of more and more people resembles that of people who completed only second, third, or fourth grade on the other side of the border, but not nearly so well shaped. One reason to learn cursive writing is for speed and fluency. Cursive is much faster than lettering. We changed from the pencil used in first and second grades to a fountain pen (except for arithmetic) in third grade. The fountain pen was so modern compared with the open inkwell and dip pen used not all that long before, and every desk still had an inkwell hole and a groove to accommodate the penholders and extra nibs. Stationery stores often gave away a blotter with blotting paper on one side and an ad for the establishment on the other. I see people these days who have trouble deciphering handwriting. Some blame the decline in writing or printing to the increased use of the keyboard. What's truly sad is that people aren't even taught to use the keyboard without looking. There's so much inefficiency! I always like to remember that Charles Dickens was a stenographer.


At 8:03 PM, October 13, 2006, Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Rantor, when I read about the SAT exams, my first thought was that I'd use cursive in a social situation, but would print in a situation like that test, when any ambiguity might cost me points. [Probably it would be in a kind of speedy script-writing that I learned in a French course some forty years ago.]

I asked my 20-something son whether he'd use cursive, and his answer, unprompted, matched my own - only printing for tests, but he'd hand write in cursive in a letter.

Of course, most social situations are answered by email rather than post now anyway!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose


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