Handwriting on the WallPosted: September 21, 2009
Is the art of writing cursive dead? Does it matter? This was the subject of a Boston Globe article yesterday titled “Cursive, Foiled Again.” As I type this — it’s hard to blog on yellow legal pads — I genuinely don’t know how I feel about the issue.
Emotionally, it makes me cringe. What if John Hancock didn’t use cursive? Getting autographs from athletes might be more readable but a lot less fun. The major challenge of a pharmicists’ work — decoding the chicken scratch on perscription pads — would be eliminated.
But logically, shouldn’t our kids be spending more time with computers than learning how to make a script “j?” Perhaps cursive will go the way of the feather quill pen but there is something wonderfully personal about it — especially in this era of e-mail and texting. To get a handwritten note with flowing loops is a great joy. Even if I can’t decipher half of what it says.
Oddly, I never learned how to print letters — it’s a major gap in my education. I switched schools in Baltimore between third and fourth grades. In the one school they taught cursive first and then moved on to printing. In the other they taught kids to print before delving into script. The upshot is that I can write in block capitals or I can write in cursive — something my boys find hilarious. When they were just learning to print they often offered to “teach me.” But I’ve made it 40 years without the skill and I’m just not interested. Of course my handwriting is horrific but I can’t blame that on my teachers. Or maybe I should.
In the Book of Daniel, a hand appears and foretells the demise of the Babalonian Empire. This is, of course, where we get the expression about “seeing the handwriting on the wall” as an omen of doom. No word on whether the hand wrote in cursive. Perhaps a modern translation of the Bible will change “handwriting on the wall” to “text on the BlackBerry.”