Friday, October 14, 2011

Is cursive handwriting disappearing in the U.S.?

James Tanner, of Genealogy's Star, one of my favorite blogs to read, has commented more than once on the trend in American public schools to drop the teaching of cursive handwriting.  His latest posting, a humorous consideration of the subject, can be seen here . My reaction to his first posting on this subject was:  "I'm a paleographer.  I smell job security!"

Having been a registered nurse, I could also say that I wondered long ago if the teaching of it had already been dropped, for, judging from doctors' handwriting, it wasn't being taught well, if at all!  But on a more serious note, I echo James's concern that future family historians will have a great deal of trouble reading and analyzing the documents passed down in their family from earlier times.

Other commenters mentioned the delights of cursive handwriting -- love notes, letters, little post-its.  There is something so much more human about handwriting that electronic communication just cannot duplicate.   Pixels are cold, handwritten letters are warm.  And even though James's above-referenced current post on the subject is humorous, it points up the humanness of cursive -- the little uses to which we put it, which generate memories to be cherished -- and laughed over -- and passed along as part of an individual's and a family's history. 

I suppose in the Great Cosmic Scheme of Things, the demise of cursive handwriting does not stack up as being of primary importance.  But on a more individual, more intimate level, we will lose a bit of our human character if we let it go altogether, without some attempt to preserve it in some way.


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