Monday, August 18, 2008

When I was in elementary school some of my worst grades were for penmanship. Things went from bad to worse when we learned cursive.

I really resented having to learn cursive. What was the point of having a second method (and an awkward one at that!) of handwriting? Even at that young age I recognized the infuriating pain of inefficiency. Now that I've gained 30-plus years of distance and perspective on those frustrating times, I've come to judge cursive with a more mature view.

Cursive sucks. It's lame and it sucks and it's totally useless and sucky. It's more time consuming, more difficult and less readable than printing. Cursive must die due to its enormous suckitude.

Or so says my years of wisdom.

Daisy also struggles with her penmanship and in cursive. I have nothing but sympathy for the kid, but some contemplation on the topic brought me a glimmer of hope.

I believe that Daisy's generation will be the last generation that will be forced to prove their worth with this loopy script. Cursive is a dying art.

How much hand writing do you do in general these days? A lot less than you used to do and a ton less than your parents did at your age, I'll bet. We type, we text, we call. At this point, there's a hugely diminished need to do any sort of hand writing, let alone a style of writing whose only value is that it's more ornate than simple printing. Personally, I abhor any form of hand writing these days, choosing to outsource all check-writing and general form-filling to my wife, whose tolerance for the intolerable is unimaginably vast (see my marriage for proof).

Will schools 25 years from now be able to justify the days and days that it takes to learn and practice this arcane art? No more than our current schools could justify teaching the art of using a quill and ink well. Cursive will be treasured only by the eccentrics, dusted off by pretentious artists and creative cryptographers seeking uncrackable codes for their secret messages.

Farewell, cursive. Don't let the door of history hit you in the ass on your way out.


Sue said...

Ooooh would my mom be mad at you! She INSISTS I teach my kids cursive, so that they will be able to read what old ladies write.

But they struggle just to have legible printing, so I'm pretty easy about the cursive thing.

My writing is a wierd combination of printing and cursive.

tinyhands said...

Fine, cut cursive out of schools, but what are you going to replace it with? Differential Calculus? Astrology? Intelligent Design? (note: all three things are forms of witchcraft)

Meg S. said...

I like cursive, but I'm a left brained thinker. As a third grade teacher, I see Handwriting (as in cursive) as a dying art, along with letter writing. (Like with paper, pen, envelope and stamp.) In the olden days it was how you presented yourself. Now we have Facebook!

I'd say adios cursive -- along with long division, subtraction, adding, and math in general. We have computers and calculators duh. That can go. Along with algebra, calculus, diagramming sentences. Stuff I had to learn, suffered through and now my daughter is doing the same. Total waste of time.

Stuff they DON'T teach in school that one should learn to be a productive member of society: how to finance a house, buy a car, calculate mortgages, write a living will, how to spot pseudoscience, how to be a skeptic, how to raise a child, how to cook a decent healthy meal, how to talk to a doctor, basic home and car repair, sew a hem or rip. Stuff you might actually need, you know?

Anonymous said...

My kid just started to learn cursive this week in school. I cringe because I know this will end in teary frustration. The kid is just now getting the hang of printing!

I was just telling my mother last night how I purposely refused to write some cursive letters the "proper" way because I thought the way they looked in cursive was just plain dumb. To me the cursive Q looked like a 2 and that was stupid. My Qs look like Qs, dammit. I am such a rebel.

That said, I don't mind hand writing so long as I don't have to do much of it. I type much faster anyway.

Mike said...

Sue, this is why we don't let the grandparents define the curriculum.

Tiny, how about typing? Or even learning their freaking multiplication tables? I had to take time out of Daisy's summer to drill her on that because they didn't bother to teach her that skill during 3rd grade.

Meg, we still need the basic math skills. It's handy being able to do basic math without having a calculator or computer near by. I use that skill EVERY day. Cursive? Never. Everything else you list is good stuff though. Teach on!

Mox, I'm with you. Next time you're in SF, I'll buy you a drink.

tinyhands said...

Math? Ok, but what are they going to teach the girls? :D

Monkey said...

If I'm not mistaken, cursive writing was meant to be not only fancier, but quicker to produce, there being no keyboards and all in the days of yore.

As a highschool English teacher I must admit that it is sometimes very difficult and frustrating to read handwriting, but the reality for kids in schools is likely that they will continue to hand write a lot of the work they do because they can't be trusted not to plagiarize their assignments - thus, handwritten in class is the way to go. If we could convince them that the computer is a great tool for writing and not for ripping off, I suspect you'd be able to do away with handwriting in the school pretty quickly (that is, if you could get funding for more computers in the classrooms - don't get me started!)

Mrs. T. said...

OMG they didn't drill and kill the multiplication tables in third grade??? What commie school is she going to? No one gets out of my third grade without them. Basic math that you can do in your head or on your fingers, good. Long division? Uh no. Math is too hard. I heard Barbie say it. It must be true.

Grandparents do drive the curriculum. Have you seen your school board? The state superintendent? The US department of Education? Curriculum is also driven by test scores, where the tests are created by people who often cannot open a Word document without calling tech support.

Good point about plagiarism.


Mike said...

Tiny, zing! You still got it.

Monkey, yeah, they told me the same thing about cursive, that it was supposed to be faster, but that's patently false.

Meg, you can't believe how annoyed I am that they didn't teach my daughter her multiplication tables. They did lots of multiplication and division, but made no effort to get the kids to memorize the table. Totally moronic.