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26 Years Old and Can't Write In Cursive 921

Posted by timothy
from the but-good-penmanship-is-sexy dept.
theodp writes "Back in 1942, Chicago mail-order house Spiegel's looked to handwriting analysis to identify inconsistent, unreliable, poorly adjusted people. Ah, those were the days. TIME reports we are witnessing the death of handwriting, noting that Gen Y struggles with cursive and the group following them has even less of a need for good penmanship. And while the knee-jerk explanation is that computers are to blame for our increasingly illegible scrawl, literacy prof Steve Graham explains that kids haven't learned to write neatly because no one has forced them to. 'Writing is just not part of the national agenda anymore,' he says. So much for 100 Years of Handwriting Success!"
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26 Years Old and Can't Write In Cursive

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  • Oh Noes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:34PM (#28828993)

    If we let cursive die, calligraphy could be next to go!

    • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:5, Funny)

      by clang_jangle (975789) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:02PM (#28829291) Journal
      What? Cursive is just a matter installing a cursive font.
    • Re:Oh Noes! (Score:5, Funny)

      by tempest69 (572798) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:03PM (#28829299) Journal
      actually, the problem is that schools arent teaching children to text.. look at how many 40year olds struggle to get out a paragraph in 15 minutes.
      Texting would be the far more appropriate skill to teach.

      Storm

  • 26 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:35PM (#28829007)

    26 year old people are just old enough to have learned to write before computers. If they can't, it's the school, not the keyboard.

    • Re:26 years (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:45PM (#28829093)
      This age seems about right. I surfed the first wave of computers becoming ubiquitous in schools.

      I was also considered a 'special case' at my school because my hand writing was terrible due to a fine motor disability. I was given a choice between physiotherapy and a laptop computer. Guess which I asked for?

      Oh... and guess which I actually got. :P Really, I can't complain because it was probably better for me in the long run.

      That also makes me wonder whether people are going to lose fine manual dexterity as a result. Already kids do less manual craft (like building models) in favour of computer games. I wonder if lack of fine motor training will result in a generation that is unable to do anything more accurate with their hands than push buttons.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jurily (900488)

        That also makes me wonder whether people are going to lose fine manual dexterity as a result. Already kids do less manual craft (like building models) in favour of computer games. I wonder if lack of fine motor training will result in a generation that is unable to do anything more accurate with their hands than push buttons.

        Everyday life requires some dexterity, too. Just think about your movements next time you put your socks on. Of course it's not as detailed, as e.g. painting, but it should be enough.

        And, of course, typing requires dexterity as well. Look at your hands sometime :) The real danger lies in sitting all day in a bad posture.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SydShamino (547793)

        That also makes me wonder whether people are going to lose fine manual dexterity as a result. Already kids do less manual craft (like building models) in favour of computer games. I wonder if lack of fine motor training will result in a generation that is unable to do anything more accurate with their hands than push buttons.

        I think you're overlooking the effect that a few decades of text messages and complicated video game controllers has on manual dexterity. Studies linked before on Slashdot indicated that a typical teenager today has better manual dexterity in his or her thumbs than someone age 25 or older, thanks to extensive use texting at the ages where motor skills are still developing.

        Meanwhile, the typical Playstation controller has far more just "buttons"; a typical game might require use of the direction buttons on

    • Re:26 years (Score:5, Interesting)

      by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:49PM (#28829141) Homepage Journal
      You are ignoring the atrophy issue. I'm 28 and distinctly remember writing cursive in 3rd grade, but 3rd grade was 20 years ago. Afterwards I could write proficiently in cursive, and for the next couple of years they forced us to write at least some cursive, but after that everything that wasn't on computers we were allowed to hand in with print. The fact of the matter is that it's just easier to both read and write and print.
      Hell, the pressures of high school are probably as much to blame as computers, we were expected to create complex, deep essays within 50 minutes. At that point, there simply isn't enough time to worry about your handwriting.
      • Re:26 years (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:52PM (#28829843)

        You are ignoring the atrophy issue. I'm 28 and distinctly remember writing cursive in 3rd grade, but 3rd grade was 20 years ago. Afterwards I could write proficiently in cursive, and for the next couple of years they forced us to write at least some cursive, but after that everything that wasn't on computers we were allowed to hand in with print. The fact of the matter is that it's just easier to both read and write and print.

        That's my feeling about it as well.

        The teachers who ordered us to use script justified it by saying that, once we got out into the real world, everything would have to be in script, lest we appear unprofessional.

        Ha. Ha.

        Everything I do in my work is typed, with the exception of notes I scribble to myself. On the rare occasion I give handwritten notes to colleagues, they're usually things like filenames or database table names...and they're on Post-it notes.

        And they're always printed. If I gave anyone anything in script, they'd just look at me blankly.

        About the only thing I can do in script is sign my name.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I'm over 26, and of course I learned to write in cursive, but I'm so out of practice that I basically can't. My handwriting is illegible, and it doesn't take a lot of writing to tire my hand out, I guess because I'm not used to using those muscles.

      Computers certainly shoulder some of the blame. I've been typing since I was a kid, and I can type much more quickly than I can write, and it's easier on my hands. What's crazier is that I have a harder time composing my thoughts in writing if I have to do it

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by im_thatoneguy (819432)

      I'm 23 and I was taught cursive for at least 2 years in school.

      It's not the computers. It's not the schools. It's that the only time I've used cursive since 6th grade is to fill out those stupid *#$&!ing "honestly policy" sections on standardized tests that have to be written in cursive.

      Just about everyone in my highschool had to have the teacher write it up on the front board so that we could have a reference on how to fill it out. And I know all of us learned cursive in grade school because most of

  • by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:36PM (#28829011)

    Nothing in the real world uses cursive. It's all manuscript. Cursive is far harder to read, has more person to person variation, and isn't really faster to write. In addition, there's plenty of evidence that teaching it harms children's education by confusing them. So long as they can still read and write script, there's nothing to be concerned about here.

    • by cmdrkynes (1582503) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:42PM (#28829075)
      These are not facts. You pulled this straight out of the air. I have absolutely no problem reading neat cursive riding. For me I can write at least 2x as fast in script and I experience less hand fatigue while writing it because I am not always moving my hand up and down for every letter. Also I am exactly 26 years old. I use it mainly to write in a personal journal which I choose not to type out. Just because you are bad at it doesn't mean that its a completely useless skill.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Bandman (86149)

        Right, but how's your cursive fare against your typing?

        There are people who still write using calligraphy. There will still be people who write cursive. It'll just be a niche skill, sort of like Blacksmithing is.

        Keep practicing your cursive. Some day you'll be useful in the SCA. ;-)

      • by db32 (862117) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:00PM (#28829259) Journal

        I am curious how you can say you have no problem reading neat cursive when you type riding instead of writing. How do you know you are reading it correctly when you don't know which letters are supposed to be there?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by st0rmshad0w (412661)

        I can read "leet speak" upside down and in a mirror at the same speed I read a typed page. I have a hell of a time deciphering most people's cursive script. What exactly is your point?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        Also I am exactly 26 years old.

        well in that case, Happy birthday!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PolyDwarf (156355)

        Just because you are bad at it doesn't mean that its a completely useless skill

        Just because you are good at it doesn't mean that it's not a completely useless skill.

  • by st0rmshad0w (412661) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:36PM (#28829013)

    I'm nearly 40 and haven't used cursive since high school. How is this a Gen Y thing again?

  • Meh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gardyloo (512791) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:36PM (#28829015)

    M.e.h.

  • by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:37PM (#28829023)

    Just wait 50 years: "That's right kids, grampa used to use his hands to program computers!"

  • by rbanzai (596355) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:38PM (#28829029)

    I grew up in an era when cursive was still common but I struggled with it right through until the end of High School. It was always terrible. When I got to college I abandoned it in favor of printing and it was a great relief. Now and then I use cursive for a letter because it still is the most personal way to write but it looks as awful as ever.

    Cursive still has a place as a form of expression and as such should still be taught, but for the cursive challenged like me I understand its abandonment.

  • by harmonise (1484057) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:39PM (#28829051)

    I'm almost 40 and I can't write nor read cursive. It makes me feel illiterate when I have to hand something written in cursive to someone else and ask if they can read it to me. But, honestly, people are using cursive less and less these days and I've discovered that I'm not the only one who has trouble reading it.

  • by Tynin (634655) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:41PM (#28829065)
    I tried to recall how to make all the letters, upper and lower case in cursive, and I cannot recall them all. I think the only cursive I've used out side of grade school is when I have to sign my name.
  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:41PM (#28829067)

    There's exactly one profession that requires cursive handwriting skills.

    Third grade teachers.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:42PM (#28829077)
    Seriously, except letter for a job candidature or a post card, I never use handwriting anymore. And even for the job search , I really do think that hand writing is utter useless, except maybe as a useless filter (can't read his handwriting / can read). Everything I have to do, I do in block writing (official forms, bank receipt etc...) or with printer.

    The hand writing is going the way of the draw-cariage with horse. Plainly and simply. Hand writing is QUAINT that is it.
  • by m.dillon (147925) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:45PM (#28829101) Homepage

    The only cursive I use, oh, since high school, is to write my signature. And I hardly even bother with that any more either. I just put down a squiggle.

    -Matt

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rockoon (1252108)
      My squiggle has been standard since 1983, when I spent an afternoon writing my signature over and over again, until it evolved into the most efficient thing I could muster that still resembled an attempt at writing.
  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:45PM (#28829115)

    Seriously. The answer is easy.

    The whole thing on the 'decline of handwriting' is just silly. Anceint Greek isn't taught in most schools either - should we lament the 'decline of 26 year olds being able to understand Ancient Greek'? Of course not.

    They can't write in cursive because cursive is either not taught at all, or taught poorly at best - and /nobody cares/ whether or not you can write well.

  • by BitterOak (537666) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:47PM (#28829127)

    Meryl Streep's character in Doubt had it absolutely right. Ball-point pens are to blame. People in my parent's generation who learned to write with fountain pens always seemed to have better handwriting than me. I always struggled with cursive in school: my writing was very slow and messy.

    A few years ago I bought my first fountain pen, and now, writing is a pleasure. I still don't write terribly neatly; it seems whatever pen you learn to write with determines your handwriting for life. But I can write in cursive much faster and my penmanship has improved a bit. If you have never tried a fountain pen, I urge you to. I never thought writing cursive could be a pleasure.

    • by Ragzouken (943900) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:16PM (#28829407)

      For us users who have never used a fountain pen without it scraping horribly along the page, could someone explain what's so great about them?

      • by BitterOak (537666) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:47PM (#28829795)

        For us users who have never used a fountain pen without it scraping horribly along the page, could someone explain what's so great about them?

        The problem is you're writing with a fountain pen as if you're using a ball point. You don't need as much pressure with a fountain pen, or more precisely, you apply the pressure a bit differently, and hold the pen at a slightly different angle. Try writing more as you would with a pencil. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get it right it really is less fatiguing.

      • by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfile@@@mindless...com> on Sunday July 26, 2009 @05:09PM (#28829981) Journal

        Ergonomics. A good fountain pen's own weight provides almost all the pressure necessary, so instead of having to apply downward force and then attempt fine control you only need the fine control, which means you can write for longer without your hand cramping. Fountain pens (and fine felt-tip pens, for that matter) only scrape when you press down too hard, a habit that comes from using cheap biros with poor ink flow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mornedhel (961946)

      Over here pretty much everyone in my generation learned to write with a fountain pen (mandatory for a while in elementary school).

      I don't see any of us writing better than the new generation.

      I for one used a fountain pen from almost when I started to learn to write until university, and I have a terrible, unreadable handwriting.

    • by Steve001 (955086) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @05:07PM (#28829967)

      BitterOak wrote:

      Meryl Streep's character in Doubt had it absolutely right. Ball-point pens are to blame. People in my parent's generation who learned to write with fountain pens always seemed to have better handwriting than me. I always struggled with cursive in school: my writing was very slow and messy.

      A few years ago I bought my first fountain pen, and now, writing is a pleasure. I still don't write terribly neatly; it seems whatever pen you learn to write with determines your handwriting for life. But I can write in cursive much faster and my penmanship has improved a bit. If you have never tried a fountain pen, I urge you to. I never thought writing cursive could be a pleasure.

      I agree that fountain pens are terrific to write with. I used to use them in high school because they gave better writing quality that ball point pens. With recent pens, the ones that come closest to the writing quality of fountain pens are the rollerball pens (the kind of pen I use now) and the gel writer pens.

      Returning to the topic of the thread, I think the major factor that has led to cursive writing falling into disuse is that people are no longer required to use it. For myself, outside of grade school I've never been required to write in cursive. Now, I no longer have the ability to write in cursive.

      I think another factor in the decline in cursive handwriting is that so much of our writing no longer remains in a fixed place. What I mean by this is, before the advent of electronic communication our writing basically stayed on a piece of paper. The only way the writing could travel is if it was sent or handcarried to someone.

      Now, much of what we write travels in a non-physical form. Rather that writing letters on paper, we write e-mails and text messsages where the text only exists in an electronic form. Also, much of what is handwritten ends up being retyped into an electronic format at a later time.

    • by Drishmung (458368) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @05:53PM (#28830387)

      You say "Ball-point pens are to blame", but that implies that you don't like the writing done with ball-point pens.

      In fact, the style of writing depends, and has always depended, on the writing technology used.

      From chiselling letters into stone, we got serifs. They look beautiful and help reading, but unless you are chiselling inscriptions, you don't tend to use them for writing. Moveable type brought them back for printing, just because they look good.

      With a quill pen, you have thick and thin strokes, and you don't want any up strokes, because the nib judders and splatters ink everywhere. The reaction to this was the lovely uncial and half-uncial scripts. Half-uncial is what we now call lower-case. Another solution was black-letter, which was also a solution to the high cost of materials. Black letter is very dense, and quite pretty (in some respects), at the cost of being almost, but not quite, illegible. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to read!

      The Chinese took a different tack and used a brush rather than a pen. This in turn impacted on the shape of their glyphs.

      Then came the steel pen. At first, just a metal replacement for the quill, it evolved with the addition of a rounded blob on the tip. This allowed upstrokes without splatter! But, if you are doing longer continuous strokes and not dipping your pen quite so often, then the nib tends to dry out. Now, enter the fountain pen. A reservoir allows for continuous ink. Other requirements required the development of something other than the thick and corrosive, black "India Ink" (which is a Good Thing if you are writing on vellum, but less so with a steel pen on paper). Blue-black ink became popular. But now it became more important to have as continuous a line as possible. Hence, 'joined up writing'. And once more, people found ways to make it beautiful, even though it gave up the light and strong emphasis of the quill and flat steel nibs.

      Then, the ball-point. Special ink that does not dry out in the pen, so joined-up is not necessary. A natural writing angle that is more upright than a nib, which leads to a preference for slightly different letter forms. In other words, with a ball-point pen there is no need for a continuous line, and it's actually slightly more difficult to write in that particular style anyway, which was designed and tuned for a particular technology.

      People can write illegibly using almost any technology. I've seen 19th century handwriting that was perfectly legible to my eyes, but I've also seen stuff that is a painful exercise in decryption. Likewise I see people who write, or print, at high speed with a ball point pen and produce beautiful handwriting

  • by cratermoon (765155) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:50PM (#28829163) Homepage
    By "cursive" English writing learned in school, most people probably got taught the Palmer Method [nystamp.org] or possibly D'Nealian. While it was considered to be aesthetically pleasing, it was really hard to do right. I learned it in 3rd grade and never was any good at it. Not only that, but the Palmerian style was the one you lefties like me hated, either because they forced you to use your right hand or just because you could never get the slant right and still form all the letters while staying on the baseline. On the other hand (haha), writing by hand neatly and legibly still has value, and if you like working with your hands its worth looking at something like Getty-Dubay or other modern italic handwriting style. I re-taught myself from a couple of books over a summer a few years ago. In any case, if we are losing the ability to do Palmer Method writing, who cares? It's not even that easy to read when written well. BTW this is very Western alphabet-centric. Arabic, Hebrew, and most asian languages still have a strong handwriting grounding.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by auctoris (888249)
      Getty-Dubay is the way to go. I learned penmanship in the late seventies. I was taught the "ball and stick" method for print and a version of the Palmer method for cursive (lots of loops). Taking notes in college was a struggle. I wrote faster in cursive but with all the loops, it became illegible pretty fast. I got Getty and Dubay's book Write Now [tinyurl.com] and that changed everything. They use the "Italic" method which goes back to Michelangelo and Davinci. It has a very classic look. Italic is much easier and mor
  • by Skapare (16644) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:53PM (#28829183) Homepage

    ... the death of Blackletter [wikipedia.org].

  • Explain to me why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by east coast (590680) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:55PM (#28829203)
    Why do we need cursive writing to begin with? While I think that there should be some attention paid to penmanship I don't see the need to write in two fashions anymore than I see a need to learn two systems of measurement.

    Maybe one of the reasons American children are falling behind is because the curriculum is filed with crap that is outdated or never needed to exist in the first place.

    We'd be best off to get rid of cursive writing and the Imperial measurement system from society and save ourselves the trouble. I'm sure there is more nostalgic and idiotic fat that can be cut from the studies of children. Especially since these two wastes of time are taught in a period of the child's development that bears a ton more fruit per hour invested than it does 8-10 years later when we're teaching high science and math.

    I know I dropped cursive writing from my skill set the moment I was no longer penalized for not using it.
  • by Crash McBang (551190) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @03:59PM (#28829249)
    Just use handwriting in a CAPTCHA to filter out the twentysomethings!
  • I'm 26, and... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:07PM (#28829343) Homepage Journal

    I'm 26 and I've struggled with poor handwriting my entire life. And that was not because my teachers didn't try. In my early years, handwriting was graded curriculum- Thus, despite straight A's for everything else, my performance always looked mediocre because of the C's and D's I'd get in the handwriting portion. I can still remember that wide-ruled shitty tan paper that tore if you used an eraser. Line after line of cursive A's and V's, then the next week O's and B's. And on and on, when I could have been learning something useful.

    My handwriting now looks identical to my handwriting from at least as far back as 6th grade. And those were the days before we ever typed anything. In high school I hand-wrote papers and notes literally by the ream, and my writing never improved.

    Interestingly, my handwriting is very close to my father's, and I saw very little of his writing as I was growing up. We do share some psychological issues which are almost certainly genetic (runs throughout his side of the family), but making a connection between handwriting->psyche issues would be dubious.

    -b

  • Why cursive? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gidds (56397) <slashdot@@@gidds...me...uk> on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:08PM (#28829357) Homepage

    I've never understood why joined-up writing is suppose to be better.

    For several years, that's what I did just coz it's what I was taught. Then, while at uni, I realised that my illegible handwriting was making my revision almost impossible, and resolved to change it. I did a lot of experimentation, and discovered that 'printing' (i.e. writing each letter separately) was pretty much the same speed, much neater, and remained easier to read even when writing in a desperate hurry. (I.e. it degraded much more gracefully.)

    (Another useful thing I found was that most of the information is in the central parts of the letters, not in the ascenders or descenders; so reducing the ascenders and descenders almost to nothing and making the central parts relatively large helps too. And, like another poster, I find a fountain pen or fibre-tip far more conducive to good writing than a ball-point or roller-ball.)

    Ever since, that's how I've written. And several people have complimented me on my writing. It may not look especially refined, but it's neat and clear and easy to read, which is the intent.

    So: why all this fuss about joined-up writing? Why is it seen as superior, when (in my case at least), it's clearly less successful? Why is it even a requirement, tested for in some schools?

  • by basementman (1475159) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:29PM (#28829569) Homepage

    In second grade they taught us cursive, claiming that we would use it for the rest of our life and without it we would never get a job. When we switched over to middle school none of our teachers used cursive, and none of them would accept papers written in cursive either.

  • by solios (53048) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:32PM (#28829601) Homepage

    I was forced to use cursive. I sucked at it and had to teach myself how to print.

    My elementary school taught cursive. Period. Students transferring in from other districts who knew how to print had their grades docked until they learned cursive - no matter how awful it looked. While my elementary school was quite insistent, my high school (no middle school, district was too small) didn't care either way... and because my cursive was hideously illegible and years of forced "practice" hadn't improved it at all, I spent all of seventh grade and most of eighth teaching myself how to print.

    Almost two decades later and my self-taught handwriting style is still legible. Early samples are a bit weird (the cursive "I" took a long time to shake, for example), and if I'm rushed you can't tell my 5s from my Ss, my e's from my c's from my g's from my l's, but it works extremely well for me - I print faster than I was ever able to write in cursive, my writing is more legible, and most importantly, it was self taught. The public education system was absolutely no help in this regard, and for the first six years of my public school career the system offered no help or support - and in fact penalized - students who wanted to write but just couldn't deal with cursive.

    Good penmanship is certainly an art form, but I really think the majority of society will happily settle for a lettered populace that can simply write legibly. Print, in my experience, is a hell of a lot more legible than cursive - there's a reason that every post-it note or hand-written message that lands on my desk at work is printed - so I can read it.

    Make "penmanship" an elective. Teach the kids print - everything - everything - we read is printed or displayed that way... why should we be forced to learn an antiquated writing system that bears only the vaguest of relations to the type we read every day... unless we want to?

    Screw cursive - that's six years of docked grades, extra coursework, and being GROUNDED and forced to practice for hours and hours in the parental and school district-al hopes that operant conditioning will produce their demanded assembly-line results. Six years I could have spent learning hand printing and how to type - both of which are things I had to teach myself later in life.

  • This is mostly true. With the advent of no child left behind, they all are. Writing and cursive in general are no longer part of the curriculum. Though cursive is no longer a necessary skill unless you're planning on a career in the literary or graphic arts.

    I'm more concerned about this generations' general inability to form complete sentences. They haven't learned their language mostly because it wasn't taught to them.

    Children who have attended elementary in the last ten years are at the most disadvantaged. They haven't learned proper language skills. Their writing is being taught in template format. They will never be effective communicators. Educators all knew better and were silenced by the administration at every level. Now teachers just don't care. Children still aren't learning proper language skills.

    Who should we blame when other children around the world have better second language skills in English than our childrens' first language skills?

  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:49PM (#28829809)

    I'm 28. I learned cursive in the third grade and have not used it since -- unless you count signing my name. In my case, you probably shouldn't given that I sign my name with one initial + scribble and a second initial + scribble. My signature isn't even close to legible, but nobody cares.

    It's not an easy skill to learn, but it was incredibly easy one to forget. We really probably shouldn't be wasting Kids time with this -- I don't see what the practical value is in teaching kids how to write cursive these days. Other than reading letters from my Great Grandmother, now dead, or the original copy of the Declaration of Independence or perhaps various signatures (in as much as they could be read) I can't really even see the value in learning to read cursive either.

  • Oh Geeze (Score:3, Interesting)

    by areusche (1297613) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @04:56PM (#28829881)

    Cursive was one of the most useless things taught to me in school. When I hit 6th grade I realized typing my assignments was much faster. All through out middle school I had teachers telling me to handwrite my assignment and would down grade me for not doing so. I would write in the most illegible cursive ever imaginable! I think I was the one who got the last laugh. I had one of those teachers in 8th grade that would consistantly lose my assignments. I believe it happened at least 8 times. 7 of those times it was a matter of reprinting the last assignment!

    I hate handwriting anything. I regularly can reach 60-70 wpm which is consistent with how fast I can think up what to say. My little brother is in 3rd grade and is sadly being taught this useless skill. I say trim it out of the curriculum and fill it with some more reading.

  • Hinderance? (Score:5, Funny)

    by senorpoco (1396603) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @05:01PM (#28829929)
    My handwriting is almost illegible, so I went into the only career path where it is acceptable. I start medschool in September,
  • cursive sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lucas teh geek (714343) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @05:36PM (#28830227)

    if reading things in cursive was beneficial, we'd all be using cursive fonts all over the place on computers. I dont think I've seen anyone use a cursive font on a computer that made things better in any way ever, so I can only conclude that reading cursive sucks compared to a nice clean (preferably san serif) font.

    now there's the personal preference aspect, that you may prefer to hand write something; but having established that reading cursive is inferior to pretty much any decent font, you're not doing anyone any favors by opting to handwrite things.

    in short, good riddance.

  • by lennier (44736) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @05:56PM (#28830417) Homepage

    Late 30s, learned cursive in primary school, have NEVER willingly used it and am glad its dead. It's ugly and horrible and near-illegible and one of the most pointless inventions ever. It sacrifices all regularity and readability for a marginal speed improvement and there are no professional situations I know of where it's acceptable to use; you'd be better off learning how to write clearly on a whiteboard, at least those are in use.

    Now, Palm Graffiti 1 (sadly mourned)... now that stood a serious chance of permanently rewriting my *printing* skills until I couldn't remember how to write a 't'.

  • Penmanship (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ziest (143204) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:18PM (#28830619) Homepage

    I'm 50 years old and the product of private Jewish schools. Penmanship was a requirement in grades 2 through 6, if I remember correctly and, yes, I was taught the Palmer method with a fountain pen. Ball point pens were forbidden. I high school I reverted to block printing with a ball point and my penmanship sucked. During my career as a software engineer I have worked a number of places that required us to keep notes in a hard bond notebook. When the notebook was full they were turned over to the company lawyers who reviewed them for anything that could be patented. I got so sick and tired of having to go down to their office and translate my handwriting that went out and bought a few used fountain pens and forced myself to relearn good penmanship.

    Oh, the reason that writing with a fountain pens often produces better handwriting is the fact that it requires a certain technique and discipline that writing with a bell point does not require.

    Yes, I know it is archaic but cursive writing does have its uses. Do you ever write to your congress person? Any damn fool can send an email but a hand written letter gets their attention. They get so few of them they are treated as special especially by those on their staff who have never hand written a letter before.

  • GRE (Score:4, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @06:18PM (#28830627)

    The only time in the past decade I've had to write in cursive was on the GRE. For some reason they had us copy a honor statement in cursive before we took the test. I wasted about 10 minutes on that stupid thing, my head trying to control my hand, which kept slipping back into how I normally write (I stopped using even lowercase letters back in 8th grade, trying to copy my Dad's blueprint-style handwriting).

    Eventually I gave up and just wrote as I normally do but just didn't move the pen off the page between letters. Of course no one ever looked at it and I never heard anything about it.

    I wonder if it's not some devious psychological trick to throw the test taker off his game. My fellow grad school students also had to do the same thing, they were all were confused and annoyed by it and eventually gave up like I did. Preparation for the frustration and pointlessness of grad school life maybe.

  • by meist3r (1061628) on Sunday July 26, 2009 @11:37PM (#28832789)
    I dropped my cursive handwriting several years ago when I went to the German equivalent of Highschool Senior Year. I had been taught a curvy flowing writing style from primary school onwards and was required to write like that even though I found it exhausting. Then people started expecting me to write half a dozen pages or more in under 90 minutes for class tests which subsequently were graded badly because ... heck ... how am I supposed to write legibly in that amount of time when the style of writing I was taught looks like a curvy mess. I specifically remember my English teacher one day handing a class exam back to me which got an "F" because he couldn't read the 13 pages I had to squeeze into the 80 minute exam time, ironically the same guy a few years later told me that he couldn't give me anything but straigt "A"s in his classes. The difference between an "F" and an "A" -grade wise- for me that's enough reason to think Fuck Cursive. My primary school teachers and the idiots writing the curriculum obviously didn't take into account that some day kids would have to complete real life tasks with that crappy writing. Thus started a lengthy process retraining myself to "print" style writing. After all, what good is a handwriting nobody else can read. It might be fun for literary scholars or archaelogists but my employers and teachers have been more than glad to see me drop that cursive hyroglyphics. A year of cramps and wasted trees later my grades got (significantly) better. Nine years later I can finally decipher things I wrote in a hurry months ago and for really long texts nobody can expect me to avoid typing it anyway anymore. Those that find a romantic spark in writing books and letters in wriggly bible font are welcome to learn how to do it. Just don't expect me to do it if it's detrimental to my everyday requirements. I maintain two seperate keyboard layouts (QWERTY and DVORAK Type 2) on full 10 finger typing speed. That should be enough writing geekery for me.
  • by coaxial (28297) on Monday July 27, 2009 @02:58AM (#28833913) Homepage

    When I took the GRE, they made you write this big long pledge in cursive ("DO NOT PRINT"). It took me forever. It hurt my hand It hurt my arm. It was incredibly frustrating because I knew, they knew, everyone knew, that this form was just going to be turned into a checkbox and then thrown away. I hated every minute of it.

    But what really prompted me to post this was seeing the eights in the 8th grade Zaner Bloser assignment linked to in the blurb. The '8' was absolutely horrible. Seeing that horrible version of the S-slash, made me think back to the first grade. Until then, I always wrote my eights as two circles, one over the other one. Then my first grade teacher started marking me, and everyone else who made eights like that, down. I can still see her in that damn salmon colored suit standing there saying, "Some of you are making eights like they're snowmen. That's wrong. The correct way is to make an S, and then draw a line connecting the ends, like this. Practice it. For now on you will make eights the right way, or they will be marked wrong."

    And so I changed the way I made my eights. 25 years, I've made eights with the s-slash, mostly without even thinking. Occasionally I remember how I used to make them, and try to reclaim my eight. It never lasts long. I inevitably fall back to the s-slash. My "slave eight" if you will, and when I realize it, I die a little.

    Fuck you Mrs. Scheffer. Rot in your fucking grave.

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