Cursive writing is totally old-school. Literally. The state of Indiana has changed its academic standards and guess what? The 2011-12 curriculum does not include cursive writing (students are instead expected to become efficient in keyboard use). What’s amazing isn’t that cursive is becoming obsolete but rather that people actually care.
“But how will kids develop fine-motor skills?” ask those in favor of the ancient craft. “What if someone has to read the Constitution?” I’m no psychic, but I’m pretty sure that someone out there will have developed a computer program that ‘translates’ cursive writing into type by the time the cursive generation dies off.
And, pardon my ignorance, but hasn’t cursive writing been kind of irrelevant for, oh, I don’t know, at least a decade or so anyway? Don’t get me wrong: as a child of the 70s and 80s, I learned both cursive and printing. But to this day, I’ve only ever printed (when not typing, that is, which is 99 percent of the time). And I’m hard-pressed to find a single person in my age range who uses cursive. In fact, I recently searched through my old high-school yearbooks, camp letters, journal entries – you know, all that awesome nostalgic stuff – and I cannot find a single instance of cursive. (“I could give a shit about cursive or writing at all! Who needs it?” a friend just emailed me when I asked for her opinion on the matter.)
My mother, on the other hand, is all about cursive (I’ve got decades’ worth of birthday cards to prove it). As is my mother-in-law and my great aunt Eva. But they are a different generation and, well, they didn’t have the option of typing out their student essays or texting their friends for Friday-night plans.
Don’t get me wrong: I strongly believe that kids need to learn how to write. But cursive? It’s about as relevant as Latin. As Jen Doll at The Village Voice so aptly puts it:
“…cursive sucks! And, in our modern day keyboard- and smartphone-focused lifestyles, we simply don’t need it. Like the vestigial tails of our evolutionary youth, holding a pen or pencil, writing on those reminders of tree death we call ‘paper,’ forming the odd curlicue letters that are harder to comprehend than an especially difficult CAPTCHA when all you want to do is buy the freaking LCD Soundsystem tickets, is simply not important now. Cursive abilities have fled from our human forms because, it seems, we no longer need them. Except for signing our names on bills and stuff, which is really just putting a pen in a fist and swirling it around a bit on something flat. And who knows how long that fun will last?”
With regards to signatures, even that is changing rapidly. In fact, I recently “signed” a formal legal document online (all I had to do was type my name into an “electronic signature solution” program and it suddenly appeared in cursive font, which I thought was kind of neat. Then I hit “apply” and the deed was done). So there you have it. It was fun while it lasted but so long, cursive. See you never.