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Cursive Writing Is a Fading Skill — Does It Matter? 857

Posted by kdawson
from the something's-gained-and-something's-lost dept.
antdude sends along an AP piece on the decline of the teaching of cursive writing in schools — ramifications of which we've discussed a few times before. "The decline of cursive is happening as students are doing more and more work on computers, including writing. In 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019. ... Handwriting is increasingly something people do only when they need to make a note to themselves rather than communicate with others, [an educator] said. Students accustomed to using computers to write at home have a hard time seeing the relevance of hours of practicing cursive handwriting. 'I am not sure students have a sense of any reason why they should vest their time and effort in writing a message out manually when it can be sent electronically in seconds.'"
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Cursive Writing Is a Fading Skill — Does It Matter?

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  • Hrrmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:31PM (#29486839)

    Wasn't there a very similar story linked to about a month ago called the death of handwriting?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Grishnakh (216268)

      Yep, another Slashdupe.

    • Re:Hrrmm... (Score:5, Funny)

      by camperdave (969942) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:55AM (#29487917) Journal
      There was. Cliff and Timothy left a handwritten notes to kdawson indicating that they had posted similar stories already, but apparently it was cursive, kdawson couldn't read it.
    • Reality (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) on Monday September 21, 2009 @04:46AM (#29488729) Homepage
      No it was me that had an "ask slashdot" article published regarding "is typing ruining my ability to spell" Many people responded to which I am very thankful for and I it was quite enlightening. As with the publisher of this post, it is an issue that is not going to go away. I have been taking personal steps to undue or reverse engineer these issues. I started to practice my hand-writing skills all over again. Wrote some letters to some people on Conqueror Paper with watermarks and posted them in hand-written envelopes. The reaction has been incredible instead of typed words. A hand written letter makes a person feel special. Interestingly enough I also found out that people switch off mentally with a printed or electronic communication. Where am I going with this? Well SAS Special Air Service and SBS Special Boat Service, call in "Air Strikes" manually with manual co-ordinates to get things right. We never trust GPS or lasers. There are only a few pilots who we call in over after ISTAR on AWACS following radio silence, that can override on board weapons systems to hit the right target without electronic intervention. Therefore, doing everything manually has a place in society. We all need some downtime from digital lives we lead. They have benefits, but digital can be a curse. So /MOTD is re-explore your life, go out and enjoy your life and teach your kids you can be creative with manual hand-writing or anything manual.
  • doesnt matter to me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xSauronx (608805) <xsauronxdamnitNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:31PM (#29486841)

    I dont care to read it, and i hated writing with it. i could probably manage to use it, more or less, if i had to, but its been many, many years since i had to.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:41PM (#29486931)

      I dont care to read it, and i hated writing with it. i could probably manage to use it, more or less, if i had to, but its been many, many years since i had to.

      I also don't care to read or write curseive writing. Yet, it shows up all the time on /. Just mention RIAA, patents, traffic shaping, Microsoft, etc. and you see all sorts of f-bombs and other forms of curseive writing in comment after comment. It makes me sad. I'm glad that you have gone for many years without resorting to such tired-out shock devices.

  • Font (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:31PM (#29486845)

    You can use cursive writing on a computer, you just have to pick the right font.

    • Re:Font (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:54PM (#29487037)
      Forget cursive - the whole world's been going to hell ever since they eliminated mandatory cuniform tablet-carving in the 30s. And don't get me started about the sad state of papyrus making in America's schools...
      • Re:Font (Score:4, Interesting)

        by prometx42 (1107413) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:56PM (#29487533) Homepage

        That is a funny and in a way, prescient thought. I for one believe that not only is cursive on the outs, but our current form of expression of text as well; though on a somewhat longer time scale. We may be headed full circle back towards some form of iconographic means of communication, indeed like a system of hieroglyphics.

        Hasn't the internet seen a proliferation of images and video and a transition from long texts to bloggable and twitterable "bits" of text? Are we headed in the "Western World" toward a different symbology? Consider Chinese Script or Japanese or some of the other Asian scripts which are, after a fashion, more wholly iconographic.

        "A 'picture' is worth a thousand words"

        Is it feasible that we are heading toward a new style of the consolidation of information? When was the last time you read a 1000 page book? Are Universities graduating more Literature majors or more Graphic Designers? Just a thought...

        --

        Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only at night.

        -Edgar Allen Poe

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by camperdave (969942)
          The warning lights on the dashboard of cars used to be English, Check Oil, Door Ajar, etc. Now it's all icons.
  • by Nexx (75873) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:32PM (#29486859)
    NYTimes recently had an article on penmanship. Cursive deserves to die -- it often results in illegible scrawl. I'd explain why, but the article [nytimes.com] does it so much better.
    • Agreed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dlenmn (145080)
      Slate recently had an article partially along similar lines (palmer vs italic cursive styles). It's also worth a read: http://www.slate.com/id/2227680/ [slate.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Canazza (1428553)

        Italics is what I learned in School, in the UK. But then again, I am utterly ham-fisted with a pen and my italics look so bad they almost look like cursive.

    • by value_added (719364) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:19PM (#29487243)

      Cursive deserves to die -- it often results in illegible scrawl.

      Drawing tends to result in stick figures, painting often causes people to apply paint outside the lines, playing an instrument results in dissonance, and dancing, well, that just makes people look silly.

      If that's your argument, I'd suggest you re-examine your view of the arts. To be fair, though, I suspect you've never seen beautiful handwriting, or its effect on the addressee.

      I learned standard cursive in grade school. Typing I learned in high school. Classes in architecture and engineering taught me the value of "printing". In later years, I took up calligraphy (all forms) and modified my own handwriting, moving from "cursive" to an italic.

      Throughout all those years, I never questioned the value or the utility of what I was learning, or the work required to master it, typing included. Does that mean I can stick to using a keyboard for all forms of communication? Sure. But I but don't. Life is much richer (for everyone involved) when you don't opt for the lowest common denominator. In that sense, it's a lot like like music. Why learn to play when you can just buy it and have your computer play it?

      A handwritten note or letter, irrespective of whether it's to a girlfriend you're looking to woo, a boss you want to thank, an interviewer you want to impress, or to a family member with whom you want to share something personal, is far more effective (and meaningful) than a piece of paper spit out of a laserjet printer.

      • by mog007 (677810) <Mog007 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:47PM (#29487463)

        Are you seriously comparing the WAY somebody writes something and the way a painter paints? I've read a lot of literature, some great, some seriously overrated, and it was always typed. Even Shakespeare, the god damn grandfather of modern literature, was all conveyed to me through text printed in a uniform manor on some time of printing machine of some sort, not by a human being's strokes on a page.

        Some writers might prefer to write their novels with a pen, but they don't submit the story to their publisher that way.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        But then you're comparing cursive to an art, and I agree with that. But as an art is isn't "needed" per se, but to satisfy an urge to see "beautiful" things. Yeah, drawings tend to result in stick figures and people can paint outside the lines, but you don't read those, you just look at them. When it comes to writing, you're communicating something in a different way art does. You want it to be clear for others to read, and everybody should read the same (we're not going into the complexity of if they actua
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <(tms) (at) (infamous.net)> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:36PM (#29486891) Homepage

    Cursive writing is no more a useful skill than illuminating manuscripts. Certainly, one should be able to write with a pen or pencil; but cursive letterforms are of dubious advantage with modern writing implements.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:56PM (#29487055)

      Supposedly it is faster, however that doesn't matter since typing is by far faster still. Other than that, there are no advantages. Cursive is harder to read, which is who we don't use it as a standard font on computers. Computers these days could do a fine job of making actual cursive (properly joining the letters and all that) if we wanted but we don't. A good proportional block font is much easier to read, so that is what is used. Cursive isn't just a pain to write, it is a pain to read too.

      We should be teaching kids to emulate computerized type in penmanship to the extent possible. Make your letters as clear as possible, not frilly. If speed is an issue because you've a lot of text to commit to paper, then get a computer and type it out. Because I don't care how fast your script is, I can type faster. Write for maximum legibility, not for some dead style.

  • by shellster_dude (1261444) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:37PM (#29486897)
    I spent most of my youth writing in cursive, because it was supposedly faster. I finally figured out, that I could write tons faster without it. Then I learned how to type. Occasionally, I still break it out, but by and large, I won't miss its passing. Cursive's only real purpose, I think, is the highly stylized version: Calligraphy.
    • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:16AM (#29487703) Journal

      I spent most of my youth writing in cursive, because it was supposedly faster.

      It isn't faster, it's easier. They may not have called it anything more than "writer's cramp", but RSI existed much longer than the common medical term of today. Remember that it wasn't the speed with which they wrote that was the problem, but - having fewer alternatives - a clerical job meant you were writing for bloody ever, day after day.

      Here's an experiment someone could try if they wanted. Take a day's work, steady writing by hand, and copy it out using printed block style hand print. Do the same thing (after a good rest, or whatever other controls you can add) using cursive writing, connected ascenders and descenders and all. Track each effort with a wristband (or IR thermography, whatever works best) that measures the amount of heat your fingers, wrist and forearm generate over the same amount of time. Add this to subjective feelings - which was easier on you, at the end of the day? Cursive, every time. That's what it evolved for.

      However, it's also quite clear that things that evolved from purely utilitarian uses become cultural artifacts, and very beautiful. Check BoingBoing or DarkRoastedBlend sites for some recent photos of restored or old rusted equipment. With the right perspective it becomes art.

      I'm a calligrapher sometimes.

  • Good riddance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i-like-burritos (1532531) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:37PM (#29486899)
    There's no purpose for it.
    They should stop teaching cursive in schools, and start teaching typing instead.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:39PM (#29486907)
    cursive is merely a style, it's changed many times over the years. as long as you can print, and lets face it lots of people's cursive has been unreadable for 50 years, that's fine.
  • cursive vs print ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by koxkoxkox (879667) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:39PM (#29486913)

    "But cursive is favored by fewer college-bound students. In 2005, the SAT began including a written essay portion, and a 2007 report by the College Board found that about 15 percent of test-takers chose to write in cursive, while the others wrote in print. "

    I don't really understand. There seem to be two kind of handwriting competing for the written part, but I have never seen that in classes. Writing in print is writing each letter like the printer does, without linking them ? How can you write an essay like that ? It must take ages ? In France we learn it and then quickly forget it to only write cursive.

    • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <(tms) (at) (infamous.net)> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:47PM (#29486971) Homepage

      Writing in print is writing each letter like the printer does, without linking them ? How can you write an essay like that ? It must take ages ?

      Why would it take ages? I abandoned cursive writing as soon as I could, in seventh or eighth grade, since printing was faster. If nothing else, with printing one can write smaller letterforms more legibly, and smaller forms require less hand travel, thus making for faster writing.

      And who composes an essay so fast that the limiting factor is the physical act of writing?

      • by BZ (40346) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:56PM (#29487063)

        > And who composes an essay so fast that the limiting factor is the physical act of writing?

        Anyone reasonable writing the SAT essay portion, since time is so limited there and requirements on writing quality so low.

        Same with AP history tests, in my experience.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ajlisows (768780)

          Same with AP history tests, in my experience.

          After the last Slashdot article on handwriting, I got to thinking about my own handwriting and broke out old papers that I wrote in school. You don't get to keep any of the AP tests, but I found essays that I wrote in my AP History class. Our teacher did a fantastic job of preparing us for the exam and tried to emulate the time constraints of the AP exam for standard class essay tests....meaning you were writing furiously to get the thing done. I was astonished at how little cursive I used. When I did u

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      Writing in print is writing each letter like the printer does, without linking them ? How can you write an essay like that ? It must take ages ? In France we learn it and then quickly forget it to only write cursive.

      Writing in cursive beats writing in print only when you're using a quill or fountain pen with an inkwell, to reduce ink-splash. Writing in print is faster, more legible, environmentally friendly, and more economical.

  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:42PM (#29486939) Homepage

    For the 21st century, I would replace cursive with diagrams, schematics, timelines, maps, hierarchies, document structuring, concept maps, graphs, and charts.

    I would start students on simple systems that they understand well: Diagram how characters interact in their favorite stories, how the timeline works, the places in the stories, and so on.

    With time, I would develop it into articulations of the conceptual structure of essays and movies. I would create more and more detailed maps as times went by. Near the end, I'd have students make complex presentations of scientific and technological objects that put enormous relevant detail into compact spaces (like in mechanical blueprints, software diagrams, scientific explanations, and so on.)

    Traditionally we've taught outlines and charting, but I'd step that up way more.

  • Science (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:45PM (#29486957)

    Any equation is easier to write down by hand than by tex, MS Word equation editor, etc.

    And you look like a total douche if you can't write an equation neatly enough that others can read it.

    Of course, this isn't cursive specifically, but handwriting in general.

  • Penmenship matters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monkeyboy4 (789832) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:47PM (#29486979)
    It's clear that most of the people posting so far are code monkeys or some other key-whackers/

    Call me a Luddite, but learning to write without a computer is as important as learning to add without a computer - that is, essential.

    Also, I recall a conversation about touch interfaces where /.ers were saying it was a useless fad because the keyboard and mouse were the height of usability. Teach cursive, give kids touch enabled computers, and the physical keyboard will fade into oblivion.
    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:02PM (#29487107)

      No problem with learning to write, but cursive is not a useful skill as far as I can tell. Printing will get you through life just fine.

      If you want a real writing skill that is of some use, learn shorthand.

      As far as doing away with a keyboard in favor of handwriting recognition, this is silly. Typing is far faster and easier to implement across all sorts of devices. With handwriting recognition it is inevitable that you will suffer from varying implementations of the recognition program.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The problem with cursive print is that it's an artifact from a by-gone era. Modern pens and pencils don't smudge and ink doesn't spill out of ink bottles anymore.

      There's a purported speed gain from cursive, but that fails compared to the readability of block print letters compared to cursive.

      (this is also being said of a person who worked at a survey research group that scanned survey data from forms filled in by pen. OCR works so much easier when letters are a more uniform size and shape.)

  • Oh no! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:49PM (#29486991)

    Smoke signalling is a dead art. No one remembers the old smoke signals used by native american tribes - not even native americans! Should we worry?

    It's called progress. Those grade school teachers who insist on continuing to preach arcane methods would probably find a more efficient use of their time if they taught their students to type right after teaching them basic writing skills. I don't know many people who can spout out cursive at over 80 words per minute.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      At least smoke signals were probably only used by people who understood how to use them properly, you can't say the same about cursive hand writing. That is why it is often banned from being used to sign your name on documents. People are expected to have good penmanship and frankly most people's cursive is atrocious.

  • by dmomo (256005) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:49PM (#29486993) Homepage

    With the knowledge of penmanship goes the ability to sign a pact with the Devil in one's own blood. I suppose a syringe and an empty ink cartridge would do the trick, but why bother? Whatever Life trouble you are trying to bypass with such a pact cannot seriously be as bad as the anxiety this will cause. Imagine the stress of not only owing your soul to Satan, but also to living your life in fear of litigation from Canon, Epson and the like for breaking the DMCA by refilling those cartridges.

    No sir. I am glad to see the day of this cursed writing.

  • by east coast (590680) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:50PM (#29487005)
    We learn two forms of writing and two forms of measurements. When are we going to stop living in the past and do away with these old customs? Next they'll have our students churning butter forging horseshoes.
    • by Techman83 (949264) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:11PM (#29487177)
      Actually churning butter and forging horseshoes would have been pretty cool to learn and far more useful then learning cursive. Eg, Churning butter would have engaged the students and also taught them a bit about where their food comes from, as whilst we use machines now, butter is still created from the same basic processes. Learning about metallurgy can be useful later in life if you choose to go down that path, boiler makers, fitters + turners are actually fairly highly sort and pretty well paid in the scheme of things. But cursive, well unless informed otherwise, I haven't come across a use for it yet.
  • I won't miss it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:55PM (#29487045) Homepage Journal
    I had a third grade teacher who made me stay after school for several days so I could learn how to write a proper lower-cased "r" in cursive. Never mind that I was the best mathematician in my class; for some reason I was a terrible excuse for a human being by not being able to properly write that letter "r" in cursive.

    I don't remember the last time I wrote anything in cursive. My signature on my credit card doesn't in the least resemble the cursive that we were drilled on for so long in grade school. Cursive can go away and be banished to the deepest levels of hell for as far as I am concerned.
  • by sarkeizen (106737) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:59PM (#29487085) Journal
    What is this the second article about cursive writing on /. this year. Doesn't even seem very technology related not to mention it's pretty much a fluff piece. Tends to spur a bunch of mindless "cursive must die" postings. Probably the occasional moron "nine-times" will post...

    Even if we want to think this is discussing technology - there is very little of general import to discuss. Is cursive still useful. Yes. Is it less necessary than before? Yes. Therefore it's reasonable to believe that less people will be doing it (or doing it well).

    Now on to the fluff.

    The decline of cursive is happening as students are doing more and more work on computers, including writing. In 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019.

    The article seems to be about excluding the teaching of handwriting. So what if this test is going to be on a computer (and I'd say that it at least could be argued that this is a *bad* thing). We can assume that the students are both being taught keyboard skills and are using keyboards at home. The writer only has an argument here is if one could be shown as a detriment to the other - and even then one would have to argue the relative merits.

    "We need to make sure they'll be ready for what's going to happen in 2020 or 2030," said Katie Van Sluys, a professor at DePaul University and the president of the Whole Language Umbrella, a conference of the National Council of Teachers of English.

    Uh...why would this necessitate that? No answer. In fact if you read Oppenheimer's "The Flickering Mind" you'll see just how close this parallels the fear-mongering arguments given for computers for ages - without much evidence to support it - "Oh noes if our children don't get exposed to computers by grade three they will lag behind".

    Graham argues that fears over the decline of handwriting in general and cursive in particular are distractions from the goal of improving students' overall writing skills. The important thing is to have students proficient enough to focus on their ideas and the composition of their writing rather than how they form the letters.

    It's interesting because you could argue the same thing about computers themselves. That they distract from the actual process of writing.

    Besides, it isn't as if all those adults who learned cursive years ago are doing their writing with the fluent grace of John Hancock. No, but Id wager that most of us know what good writing is and could write well when the need arose. In the odd case where I do need to compose formally by pen my handwriting is rather good - if I do say so myself.

    Anyway this article doesn't really ask any interesting questions, doesn't cite any interesting research. It's less valuable than water-cooler talk.
  • ah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:00PM (#29487091) Journal

    am not sure students have a sense of any reason why they should vest their time and effort in writing a message out manually when it can be sent electronically in seconds.'"

    Well they have a point. If it is faster, cleaner and generally more efficient to type a message, why should they be required not to type but instead produce an inconsistent, generally lower quality hand written version? I suppose if your printer/computer are broken then hand writing is better but that is because you don't have the ability to create a typed copy, same as if you didn't have a pen or pencil to write out a message. Let students use the skills they have to do the best job they can and don't try to force them to learn a skill that the vast majority will inevitably learn poorly. (see previous post about cursive penmanship) Nostalgia for the old days when computers did not exist and students had no other choice is irrational.

  • by swordgeek (112599) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:02PM (#29487111) Journal

    First of all, there's the decline of paper-and-pen(cil) as a form of getting 'stuff' down. Secondly, there's the decline of actual cursive writing.

    The loss of cursive seems more a sign of the social age, rather than of the technology age. We could easily lose cursive entirely, without a single computer in existence. The world could simply shift to printing, and seems to be going in that direction.

    On the other hand, there are still valuable places for using a pen, and will be for some time yet. There's no better way to jot down notes in a meeting, or when brainstorming with someone else. Computers just aren't there yet.

  • by JesseL (107722) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:28PM (#29487299) Homepage Journal

    How I despise all those loops that only look correct when pushing the line to the left and pulling it to the right, and the contortions necessary to simulate them with with the left hand.

  • by meburke (736645) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:44PM (#29487427)

    I doubt that cursive writing will go away anymore than concept sketching will go away. The neuro-motor connection is valuable in enhancing learning and understanding. People will still write in notebooks and journals that don't need electricity. The people who can't write in the future will be the same people who can't write now; the neglected, the mentally impaired, the lazy, and those who depended on the public school system to give them the essential skills.

    Especially important is the need for learning and understanding. According to John Medina in his book, "Brain Rules", concepts are learned better and more thoroughly if there is a little more effort put into the learning process. Motor memory is apparently a good adjunct to learning, especially in complex relationships.

    The ability to communicate, on the other hand, is being lost at a tremendous rate. People who can't spell are trying to write about complex problems. People with bad grammar are trying to discuss important political, social and scientific issues. People who can't do basic arithmetic are trying to make sense out of figures that are twisted, distorted and under-represented in the daily media. People who can't think are still trying to vote intelligently and failing. (And,look at what happens daily on /. !)

    I can use a number of computer drafting and drawing tools pretty well, but if I want to really understand something, I draw it by hand. (There is also something satisfying about the order that comes from drawing my pencil across my straight-edge, but that's something different.) I spent many hours learning to create legible printed text to COMMUNICATE ideas to others, but my own thinking is usually accompanied by either quick notes that look like shorthand, or complete notes in cursive so I can understand them later. Sometimes my slide rule is more valuable to understanding something than a calculator. Short notes and memos are still more easily written than typed, printed and delivered.

    A few months ago a lawyer friend of mine mentioned that her son couldn't read an analog watch. He wears one, but it doesn't tell him the time. There is a whole level of understanding about the world that came from learning to tell time. I seemed to have a connection with the turning of the earth. I could find true North if I was lost in the woods. I could calculate height and distance without a tape measure. I could go sailing and be pretty sure I would end up where I wanted. The ability to read, write and calculate helped mankind overcome basic limitations by enhancing basic metal abilities. I am afraid the serfs of the future will be those that have been removed from the basic skills by layers of technology they use without the underlying knowledge to support it. (In my field, I have already been all but replaced by people who are called programmers, but can't do Boolean Algebra or Assembly language. A bunch of "cookbook" programmers who seem to think that writing code is more important than solving a problem. They rely, as they should, on solutions painstakingly solved by the programmers of my generation which have been combined into large complex systems and placed in books and repositories. But they couldn't reproduce the solutions if they had to start from scratch.)

    As you may have guessed, I'm worried that the loss of the ability to write will diminish our ability to think and communicate. Cursive writing is only part of this process, so the loss of manual writing ability does not depend on a specific style. Cursive penmanship did give us a common ground for understanding the ideas of other people. Linguists tell us that the actual understanding of written communication is tremendously difficult, even if the communication is simple and clearly presented.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LordLucless (582312)

      I doubt that cursive writing will go away anymore than concept sketching will go away. The neuro-motor connection is valuable in enhancing learning and understanding. People will still write in notebooks and journals that don't need electricity

      The neuro-motor connection is just as present in printing as in cursive. Your argument is for the persistance of handwriting in general, not any particular mode of it, such as cursive.

      A few months ago a lawyer friend of mine mentioned that her son couldn't read an analog watch. He wears one, but it doesn't tell him the time. There is a whole level of understanding about the world that came from learning to tell time.

      I'm sure he can tell the time. Give him a digital watch and see. You seem to be complaining that losing a specific technique implies the loss of a general skill.

      In my field, I have already been all but replaced by people who are called programmers, but can't do Boolean Algebra or Assembly language.

      Why should programmers need to know assembly language, unless they are working in a field that specifically requires it? Understand the general concepts, maybe, but th

  • by Rick Richardson (87058) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:33AM (#29487779) Homepage

    Cursive is the Morse code of the 21st century. A quaint, but nearly
    useless skill needed only to satisfy an outdated definition of proficient.

  • Non-negotiable! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:38AM (#29487809)

    Some form of handwriting is necessary, and always will be. I view this as non-negotiable.

    I don't care if it's any particular form, as long as it's readable by others. Mine is a "joined-together printing" style, I abandoned traditional cursive writing in my teens, but what I write is readable and gets the job done. If Cursive is dying, let it die. Carolingian Minuscule died centuries ago and nobody misses it.

    The one thing I would change is the tendency to "illiterate" handwriting. You know the type. There has to be a better way.

    ...laura

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday September 21, 2009 @02:26AM (#29488261)

    When I was a teenager, lo so many years ago, I had a female friend who had really nice handwriting. On those rare occasions that my friends and I skipped school, she was always the one who'd write our "excuse" notes because her writing made for a believable note from mom. So tell me - if cursive writing is lost, who is going to write the mom notes for those poor children of the future?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by glwtta (532858)
      So tell me - if cursive writing is lost, who is going to write the mom notes for those poor children of the future?

      Um, the parents of the future are the kids of today - they ones that can't write anymore. If anything, this makes things easier for the future children.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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