The Lost Art of Cursive

November 23rd, 2013

Growing up I hated writing by hand. As long as I can remember, I had access to a computer, and it always seemed like an absurd waste of time to have to write something on paper, edit, and rewrite it. Why should I have to rewrite something from scratch, when I could just type it, edit it, and print out another copy.

In the 5th Grade (1995), my teacher would not let us type anything. I protested, to no avail. He insisted that students should know how to write. I remember him saying that when you grow up you won’t be able to type everything.  As an 11-year-old jerk, I knew he was wrong.

18 years later, I never write anything by hand. In fact, whatever muscles are needed to write with a pen have largely atrophied. Signing a few books, and addressing labels to mail them, is uncomfortable. I wrote the entire book without using a single piece of paper. But, I still know how to, at least read cursive.

Not so much for today’s generation. This WSJ Op-Ed by a High School Junior is telling. She can’t write in cursive, and the hardest part of the PSAT was writing out in cursive the honor code.

The up-and-coming generation—the soon-to-be doctors, politicians, missionaries and possibly even newspaper editors—have no idea how to write or read cursive. Most of the time, kids my age don’t even write using block letters. We just type. Unless some brainiac installs a QWERTY cursive keyboard on iPhones, the style will soon die out.

After a good 15 minutes, my class finished writing the honor code. What the scribble on my paper actually says remains unknown. I hope my grade on the test doesn’t depend on my ability to hand-write a simple sentence.

I would have signed my name to this piece to verify that I wrote it. But like most kids my age, I don’t know how.

This art will be long gone soon enough.