Sunday, April 14, 2019

Trying to Save Cursive

As the world tumbles along its disaster-pockmarked course toward who knows what, hundreds of mainly Republic legislators and educators have come together to fight the good fight for preserving cursive:
Even as keyboards and screens have supplanted pencil and paper in schools, lawmakers and defenders of cursive have lobbied to re-establish this old-school writing pedagogy across the country, igniting a debate about American values and identity and exposing intergenerational fault lines.

When Anne Trubek, the author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, started studying the resurgence of cursive about a decade ago, reasons for teaching it focused on developing a civilized, well-mannered population.

“People were upset about the idea that you might not seem educated if you didn’t know cursive,” she said.

But in recent years, the reasoning for cursive became associated with “convention, tradition, conservatism,” she said, and tied to discussions about school uniforms and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Indeed, several Republican lawmakers have spearheaded campaigns to revive the writing style.

In 2016, lawmakers in Washington introduced a bill backing cursive after Pam Roach, then a Republican state senator, noted that a constituent had said her grandchild could not read a handwritten letter. The measure did not pass.

Lawmakers have also invoked the Declaration of Independence, which was marked by John Hancock’s flamboyant signature, as a reason for a script revival.
Conservative intellectuals are always trying to justify their creed as something other than simple nostalgia, but then something like this crops up.


Shadow said...

Since keyboards replaced pens and pencils perhaps cursive should be replaced with typing class. is typing mandatory in school?

Then again . . . couple months back I watched a teenage girl whip out her phone and type a text or email with her thumbs. In my typing heyday, I never came close to typing as fast as she did. It was a marvel.

JustPeachy said...

We're homeschooling, and I'm teaching my 7yo cursive. I'm also teaching him touch-typing. I'm not at all nostalgic about cursive, but have done enough historical research with my mother that I want my kids to be expert enough with cursive to read historical documents, if they so choose. If they never need it, no harm done. But I've pored through enough old census records, wills, deeds, letters, contracts, etc. that I'm glad I learned it while young. A lot of those are barely legible even if you're *good* at cursive. I can't imagine trying to decipher, if that had been my first experience with script.

On the plus side, it's really not that much time and effort to teach.

G. Verloren said...

Are we also going to save Shorthand? Get rid of all the audio recorders in courtrooms and whatnot and bring back stenographers scribbling by hand in a squiggly code?

Cursive, like so many other things before it, has become largely obsolete. But nostalgia is a powerful drug, and certain people will always fight to bring back the past - but only the past they personally are attached to, of course.

We need to save newspapers! But reviving town criers? That'd be absurd!
We need to save the coal industry! But whale oil can stay gone, we don't remember it.
We need to save Christmas! But only 1950s Christmas, not the 19th century version.

Et cetera.