The dying art of Cursive

I had to write a note to my son’s teacher. As an old-timer, I wrote my note by hand. That’s how a teacher can tell that the note came from a parent and not something the child had forged. My son looked at the note and said, “Why did you write it in Cursive? No one can read it.”

When I was my son’s age, I had to write in Cursive. I had Cursive writing drilled into me from third grade on (including the Qs that look like 2s as shown). It was the one subject I struggled in throughout elementary school. Assignments were required to be in Cursive, and students were graded on penmanship as well as content. It wasn’t until high school that I was allowed to start typing my papers. And even in college, I still had to write essays by hand in blue books for my finals.

Now, they hardly teach Cursive in school anymore.

My son had a few weeks of Cursive in school. He never uses it. My oldest daughter got a little more training in Cursive back when schools had more of a budget. I don’t think she uses it either.

Cursive isn’t really needed anymore. Most of our communication is electronic by email or texting. You can take notes on a laptop or tablet. I haven’t written a manuscript by hand since I got my first computer 28 years ago.  One can go without putting pen to paper for days at a time. Indeed, Cursive is an inefficient way to communicate. It’s hard to read, difficult to correct, and slow to write.

Yet, there is something personal and authentic about handwriting. It takes physical effort, shows individual style and artistry, and verifies who you are. Electronic communications can be easily forged. (Ask people who clicked a malware-spiked link in an email they though was from a business or person they knew.) It’s also hard to read a person’s feelings in Arial font. (That’s why we had to start adding 🙂 and 🙁 to email.) With handwriting, you can see the emotions in every stroke. Look at old love letters or handwritten notes on greeting cards. They show a personality and humanness that you don’t get from computer-generated text.

Cursive is an art that we shouldn’t let fade away, because there are some written communications when the personal touch is more important than speed and efficiency. You also never know when you need to write a letter to your child’s teacher.