Who Mourns for Cursive?

CursiveSometimes I think that Ramona Grigg of Ramona’s Voices exists just to annoy me. Don’t get me wrong. I love her work. Look over there on the right under “Friends”: she’s there. But there are so many versions of her that I find myself constantly getting confused. For some time, Google+ kept telling me that I ought to add someone named “Ramona Grigg” even though I had already added Romona Grigg. So I emailed her, and sure enough, she has two Google+ accounts. (In her defense, it isn’t clear how one gets rid of a Google+ account—just like everything Google.) Who knows, she may have have ten twitter feeds. I just couldn’t say.

Well, this morning, Ramona added something to her Google+ feed (or whatever you call it) from Constant Commoner, and on a very interesting subject, What Does The Death Of Cursive Mean? Now that was a subject on which I was sure to have something to say. So I read it and indeed, I do have a few comment. But first, I wanted to find out who this Constant Commoner was. And, of course, it was Ramona Grigg. It’s the blog she uses for her non-political writing. Fine. I just wish that she could send out a map of her various names and places! Now onto the issue of cursive.

Ramona says that she had a very hard time learning cursive. I was the opposite. It was the only part of my early grades that I seemed to be good at. And that is interesting because she quotes an educator who works with children who suffer from dyslexia. And I had dyslexia. Although, as is typical of such people, I rarely dotted my Is nor crossed my Ts. And may I just say that what is the point of having cursive if there are these two very big exceptions. I mean, the letter T is the most common consonant in the whole language. But I do remember when I was very young that people were very impressed with my cursive and even at the time I thought that was pathetic. I mean, really: it’s kind of an insult. “What you write is garbage, but the way it looks on the page is excellent!”

To this day, I have decent handwriting. This is a skill that has one and only one purpose: writing notes on greeting cards. And even still, I have to look up how to do a capital Q, which looks more like the number two than anything else. But contrary to what I learned is generally true, when writing in cursive, I am slow. But I suppose I would be faster if I ever used cursive to write something that wasn’t formal.

In the end, I disagree with Ramona. I do not mind seeing cursive go the way of Latin. And that is the way it is going. It will never disappear. It will simply be something that just a few people know how to do because occasionally you need someone to translate Horace or to make sure that our legible copies of the United States Constitution actually say what the silly looking original one says. And that’s a fine state of affairs as far as I’m concerned.

After all, Ramona admits that she does most of her writing on the keyboard. And to be honest, most of my spelling knowledge is now dependent upon my fingers just knowing the keys to press. My conscious mind is lost on anything longer than six characters. But there is, I think the ultimate reason why we should not mourn the passing of cursive and it comes from Ramona herself. She ended her article with the following image:

Sincerely Ramona

I had to look at the “About Me” page to know it was Ramona. I could tell the first word was “Sincerely.” But “Ramona”? Really?! Is that a capital R? Much of the beauty of cursive is that everyone’s is different. But that’s also much of its difficulty. It is hard to read. It is better than all capital letters printed, but that isn’t saying much. And printing is for the purpose of the reader, not the writer. And that’s why this site uses Times New Roman as its base font, and not some hellish script font.

Cursive is fine, but the only problem with 41 states not requiring that it be taught is that 9 states still do.

Sincerely Frank

Afterword

I just noticed: I still forget to dot my Is!

8 thoughts on “Who Mourns for Cursive?

  1. You call that a signature? Ha! Ha ha! And you say you were good at cursive in school? What happened?

    But here’s the thing, Frank: (It is Frank, right? I couldn’t tell from your signature) The beauty of cursive is that we can individualize it. We can go nuts with it! Which is what I did with my outrageously very personal "R". Nobody else has one like it! It’s mine! Mine!

    I love you like a brother, Frank (Frank, right?) but you know what I hate about you? I hate that you wrote this brilliant piece that fast! I spend days on mine and you knock yours off in a matter of–I don’t know–no time. I hate that! Damn show-off.

    Nice, too, that you felt you had to draw attention to my many personas. (Personae?) You should know that I’m embarrassed by the fact that I don’t know how to collect myself into one little bundle and get rid of all that collected baggage. It’s a good thing you didn’t look harder. You might have found me under a few other names, which I will not mention, as there are some who are still hunting me down for things I’ve said under the silliest pseudonyms (or as we call them here in Internetsland, user names.

    I look forward to more of your precious criticisms. I don’t get enough of that.

    Thanks a lot, you rascal.

    Ramona

  2. @Ramona – Well, that comment made my day! If you like my first name, you’d [i]love[/i] my last. I just didn’t think it would be a good idea to have my actual check-writing signature floating around. (Not that I write many anymore.) But for the record, my first name is "Frank" but "Frahgh?!" works just as well.

    In defense of the amount of time it took us to write each of our articles, you must admit that it is a whole lot easier to write a rant than to write an article that actually has sources and stuff like that.

    Speaking or various personas, I find it creepy the way the internet manages to know who I am no matter where I am. I comment on some YouTube video and suddenly Twitter and Google+ are telling the world. I’m afraid to join Facebook for fear it will alert the world whenever I have to use the bathroom. Anyway, all of that "Frank just…" would be fine if I told it to do that. But it just does it.

    -Frahgh?!

  3. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I still write longhand for a lot of things (okay, not A LOT of things, but some).

    But a human life isn’t all that long, and I can see that in just a couple decades – when I’m one of the old people – it wouldn’t make any sense for new generations of kids to continue using a method of writing for which there is no longer any practical purpose.

    How much pen-on-paper writing of ANY sort is there going to be in 10 years?

  4. There is too a practical purpose for longhand writing. Outlining; conjoining notes. Note taking. To do any halfway serious academic writing, gotta use paper. When I try to do without, it just sucks.

    Students that take notes by hand do better than ones that use computers – on average.

    The loss of cursive might explain the marked decrease in quality of mainstream writing I’m noticing, however.

  5. I take RJ’s point. I do a great deal of work in notebooks–but not lined notebooks: graph paper notebooks. Having a page to organize thoughts in a non-linear way is really helpful. But I don’t find cursive necessary. Of course, I use my own kind of shorthand. If speed is the thing we really care about, why not teach shorthand?

    Kary makes a good point, however. Now they have these special tablets and pens that simultaneously record audio that corresponds to what you write down. Who knows where technology will take us.

    My hope is that lectures go away. When I taught, I didn’t use them. 99% of all lectures are just teachers telling the students things they should have already read. There are far better uses of face time. Note that this is not an issue that those supposedly interested in education reform care about.

    Finally: you do all realize that I’m not being all that serious here. I was just having some fun with Mona. (Ramona to me!)

  6. Frank and all, I’ve been having fun with this whole cursive discussion and I appreciate the comments. This came from a comment on my own website. Thought you might be interested–cursive fonts. They’re beautiful! (They may be the wave of the future. Classic letters. . .like classic cars. Those were the days.)

    http://www.oldfonts.com/

    Ramona. Um, Mona.

  7. @Ramon Un, Mona – Thanks! They are great. You may start seeing some of those creep into the graphics around here!

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