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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Penmanship is So Passe


In a perverse move intended to, perhaps, slow time, I’ve taken to writing everything in actual, as-you-learned-it cursive.

Remember cursive?  All the kids were doing it.

My having taken pen in hand, however, has resulted in notes to myself like “Tupperware ham in sliced up ham” and “meerbin oppin ham slices”.

It seems that not only is it difficult to keep your mind on what you’re writing when you’re struggling to remember the beginning loop on an “h” but it’s also hard to keep it fully legible.

Some day, of course, cursive will be on par with churning one’s own butter or knowing how to darn. 

“You know, my grandmother used to write with a pen.”

She did.  I have old birthday cards, recipes, in her spiky 1920s script.  

It’s like stepping back in time.

Is cursive now a thing of the past?

What will be next?  I’ve already encountered store clerks who can’t add without the cash register doing it for them, individuals whose legal signatures are a dashed line embellished with a dot, people mourning the loss of something as individual as penmanship.

It’s autumn. 

And apparently I’m crabby.

47 comments:

Scarlet Blue said...

Trust me pen work will never be dead!!
Sx

P.S have you seen my calligraphy site?

Lynn said...

Have pen will travel... or write. I write with a pen EVERY day. I loved your comment, "You know, my grandmother used to write with a pen." That will be me! Ha. I also loved, "...cursive will be on par with churning one's own butter..."

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I love to write with my fountain pen on a piece of really nice paper. Unfortunately I get writing and my brain gets ahead of my hand and when I look back at what I have written I can't read it. Still...I persist. I do believe you are right though....cursive will be something you read about in the history books.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Perhaps Liza could legislate something.......a regular Write For Your Life holiday.

Kind of like Hunger Games but actually reading and writing cursive.

Silliyak said...

I think it's the political season. I'm REALLY cranky and lies and misstatements are like fingernails on a chalkboard (Where many of us first learned cursive, to tie this all together....)

Geo. said...

When my kids were little they kept calling it "curvous". I stopped correcting them and finally adopted it over "cursive" too. We write curvous.

Leenie said...

Grieving and mourning the loss of The Palmer Method. There's something about paper and pencil and eraser--that connects with the right side of the brain and all kinds of unbidden and imaginative things fall out. Scary when I see them later. Easy to delete. What happens to all that deleted stuff anyway?

(the above proves I can ramble pretty good with a keyboard as well)

mapstew said...

I still write with a pen, I find it's the easiest way to learn lyrics. I write them out a few times and then they're in me head!

And you're not crabby! :¬)

xxx

ps. Scarlet has THE most beautiful hand! :¬)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I'm trying to teach my dysgraphic 13 year old to at least have his own SIGNATURE goddamnit. You'd think he'd want to aspire to more than PRINTING OUT his name. Sheesh.

Eva Gallant said...

It's sad...I don't think they even teach cursive in school anymore!

esbboston said...

I prefer to do beautiful printing when I write letters to people. I have disliked cursive my entire life. I have a huge collection of pens and pencils. My wife got a new stencil machine, basicaLLy a computerized plotter with a knife. I plan to write a few letters with it soon ...

Linda Sue said...

LOVE penmanship! I was so good at it- got "A's" all the time, we had penmanship competitions- some would write backhand, some slant too much, some too round but MINE was most homogenized and according to the Palmer Method- perfect. Then in the late sixties and early seventies it got a little ...ornate? Lost all control over the loops and dots. Now that I am so old and funny in the head- I scribble...I miss penmanship, thank you for this reminder. I also miss "deportment"...remember that?

vanilla said...

Forget penmanship; our state has dropped handwriting in the schools. You're crabby? I'm seething.

fmcgmccllc said...

I am a long time list maker, always in pen and always in cursive. My notepad and pen are always at my side. And two to three times a week I ask myself what in the world did I mean when I wrote that down.

chlost said...

My grandmother, a third grade teacher of penmanship, always said that she could predict the future of her students by their "script". I work with kids now whose signatures on very important legal documents look like kindegartners on the first day of school. I know that my brain works best when I write things out.....what IS this world coming to? I'm crabby too.

Craver Vii said...

I didn't sense crabby until you mentioned it. I also lament the demise of good penmanship. Mine is atrocious. I started to work on it, but I have exclusively been printing caps & small caps since the early 80's. My coworkers say that my writing is neat and legible, but they haven't seen what it looks like when I try to write normally. Lower case and cursive trip me up. That's a shame.

Linda Myers said...

During the penmanship lesson the teacher walked around the room with a box of pens and we picked one out to use. The pens were black and had groves to help us place our fingers correctly.

A Well Styled Life said...

Wonderful observation! My cursive has slipped to sloppy lately. I need to practice more...and for heavens sake...what are the teachers doing these days?

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Ah, the Curse of the Left Handed:
1) No one can read my writing
2) Side of my left hand always blue, Smurf-like.

Thank you, Mrs. Sudol, for teaching me to type.



Douglas said...

My script has always been poor. Even my block printing was poor. I was teh only kid I knew who had homework in kindergarten... I had to practice my printing because I could not stay within the lines on the paper. I have never had good penmanship. My signature is unreadable.

Basically, I scribble.

And I don't care.

SherilinR said...

my daughter's in 4th grade and i'm teaching her cursive this year, but i've heard that a lot of schools skip it in exchange for typing these days. i don't care if she ever uses it, but she ought to be able to read the cards from her grandparents who can't remember how to print.

joeh said...

Do they even teach it any more? We used to call it script, or longhand. I had to go to the dictionary when I first heard "cursive"

Kana said...

Oh, every season's crabby season the the digital world! Let it rip!

Kids who can't write but can type with lightning speed, if only with their thumbs on a phone, who can't spell because "autocorrect will do it for me" and who look at writing by hand the way a motorist looks at walking: Oh god, what broke in my precious machine that means I have to do this myself like some kind of caveman?

The orchards are always laden in Blogsville; just shake the tree and watch the crab-apples fall!

Joanne Noragon said...

When I beacame the town clerk, responsible for taking minutes, I had to change from cursive to printing. I miss cursive, but I don't "think" it any more.

Buttons said...

Oh Pearl I write everything I then have to post it so someone can understand all those cursive loops and curves. Penmanship in school D- yup that is about right but I still keep trying.I could have been a Doctor:) B

GDad said...

Cursive lets companies do things like the Skerple products did. Google "Skerple" for a really funny attempt at a knock-off. I won't tell you what it is imitating, because that would ruin the joke. It should be safe for work.

TexWisGirl said...

too funny. :)

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

My handwriting is still nice, unless I've cramped up my hand by playing computer games too long. Crabby? That reminds me, I need to up my anti-depression meds for a short time to get through the transition to the Dark Gloom of Winter.

Betty said...

If future generations don't know how to write cursive, how will they sign legal documents? Or, will they do away with that practice, too?

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Things, they are a'changing. Cursive is going, going, almost gone.

Leauxra said...

I wrote my grocery list on a piece of computer paper the other day, and someone asked me what font I used.

"That's my handwriting."

"My... Handwriting?" she asked, looking at her phone.

"I wrote it with a pen."

She looked up. "Oh! With all those loops and hooked together like that?"

"Yes. It's called cursive."

Maybe I am getting crabby, too.

Stephen Hayes said...

I barely remember cursive, and only use it when signing my name. Everything I write is in block letters.

Linda O'Connell said...

Schools no longer teach cursive/penmanship. Some teachers spend a week on it, but for the most part computers have replaced pens, pencils and paper. Dumbing down Americans.

jenny_o said...

Oh I'm crabby too and it's got nothing to do with autumn. I fear that not only will we lose cursive, we'll also lose spelling and punctuation as we know it, due to txtng cntrxshns.

(you can tell I don't text because I probably didn't murder those words properly :))

Gigi said...

It's official; cursive has been killed off. My son can barely read cursive. It makes me weep for humanity.

Pat said...

Cursive is quite commonplace over here.

KateGladstone said...

Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?

Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citation: Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HANDWRITING STYLE AND SPEED AND LEGIBILITY. 2001: on-line at http://www.sbac.edu/~werned/DATA/Brain%20research%20class/handwriting%20speed%20style%20legibility%20berninger.pdf — and there are actually handwriting programs that teach this way.)

When following the rules doesn’t work as well as breaking them, it’s time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive offers a great opportunity to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that is actually closer to what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula teaching handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)

Reading cursive still matters — this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

(In other words, we could simply teach kids to _read_ old-fashioned handwriting and save the year-and-a-half that are expected to be enough for teaching them to _write_ that way too ... not to mention the actually longer time it takes to teach someone to perform such writing _well_.)


Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)


Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone — CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
Director, the World Handwriting Contest
Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app for iPhone/iPad
http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

KateGladstone said...

Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?

Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citation: Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HANDWRITING STYLE AND SPEED AND LEGIBILITY. 2001: on-line at http://www.sbac.edu/~werned/DATA/Brain%20research%20class/handwriting%20speed%20style%20legibility%20berninger.pdf — and there are actually handwriting programs that teach this way.)

When following the rules doesn’t work as well as breaking them, it’s time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive offers a great opportunity to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that is actually closer to what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula teaching handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)

Reading cursive still matters — this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

(In other words, we could simply teach kids to _read_ old-fashioned handwriting and save the year-and-a-half that are expected to be enough for teaching them to _write_ that way too ... not to mention the actually longer time it takes to teach someone to perform such writing _well_.)


Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)


Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone — CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
Director, the World Handwriting Contest
Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app for iPhone/iPad
http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

HermanTurnip said...

You ever sit down and sign/initial/sign hundreds of pages of loan documents? You know the drill; each page needs two signatures and three initials, it takes an hour to work through it all, and the entire time you're being rushed rushed rushed to finish? And the more you sign the less legible your signature becomes, until on that last page, your hand cramps up, your vision blurs, and a tiny, desperate voice emerging from the depths of your bruised psyche screams to the heavens above to end this madness. Your body finally gives up the ghost, your wrist locks up, and that last illegible signature on that last page looks like a neanderthal suffering from the DTs tried to etch a cave drawing of an anorexic mastodon into the fibers of the printed page.

Imagine that, and you'll be halfway there to how poor my penmanship is. Thank God for the keyboard.

jenny_o said...

LOL @ Herman Turnip!

bill lisleman said...

I can remember TV without remotes. You actually had to walk up to the TV set and twist a knob. I'm starting to wonder if talking on the phone will disappear because of texting.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

We were actually taught penmanship when I was in school... done with a fountain pen and a bottle of ink, and a very strict posture and positioning of the paper on the desk. I still like to write in cursive, and still enjoy using a fountain pen.But, my grandchildren aren't even being taught how to write cursive in school.

Tempo said...

...and spelling... you know you can tell a persons age by how they spell? Modern people (born in the last 30 years) cant spell, it's a shambles trying to read their rubbish.

The Elephant's Child said...

The legibility of my handwriting is another thing that MS has stolen from me. And I miss it. How I miss it. It is entirely unreasonable, but I feel that my handwriting now looks like that of an illeducated and probably stupid person. Hiss and spit.

Rose L said...

I can remember learning cursive. I would work so hard to write perfectly. They also would make us all right-handed. I wanted to write with both hands but they would tape my left hand to my chair so I would only use my right.
I told my son once that he should improve his penmanship and he said, "Why? We use computers." I work at a college and I would say that about 85% of the handwriting I see is almost or totally illegible. I have even seen students who cannot spell the easiest of words. One young man misspelled his own name!

Mitchell is Moving said...

I do know what you're saying. It may never be gone completely but it is certainly, if not dying, a waning art!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Since writing is part of the whole language learning system I think some form of physical forming of letters will continue to occur. Sit with some early would be readers and observe how each one tries to figure out a decoding system.
Not sure if cursive script will be a part but since some folks need a hands on way to retain stuff, cursive is likely to remain on those tablets now so popular. The ink pen may become a museum piece.