Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The demise of handwriting

Enjoying a rare lunch date today, a good friend and I made a startling discovery.

Discussing the ups, downs and curves of our lives, we touched upon handwriting, realizing that our children print. None of them care for cursive, some of them have a hard time reading it. They all received cursive instruction in third grade but weren’t required to use it. Our middle and high school children type assignments—college notetaking will undoubtedly occur via laptop.

While mulling over the sad loss of written communication, cursive in particular, we realized our actions are no better. Most of our handwriting consists of to-do and grocery lists, many of them printed… Aside from a few scribbled notes here and there, all of my blog and fiction writing is done via computer.

When I was a child, cursive was a huge, long-awaited step in the hand-writing process. We were endlessly instructed on technique…beautiful handwriting was applauded, messy writing was affiliated with messy character. I fell somewhere in between, the story of my life…

Girls constantly compared handwriting, jealousy ran rampant, furtive practicing took place during spare moments, signatures were honed and re-honed. I’m left handed, I never stood a chance in the unspoken competition.


In preschool, I teach writing fundamentals—holding pencils correctly, writing from left to right. In reality, I should probably teach keyboarding…a skill that will dominate my students’ generation.

In truth, handwriting is more than linked letters conveying information. It’s an expression of mood, personality, age, gender, emotion. There’s true beauty in a written letter, a glimpse of the writer, a picture of their thoughts via their unique writing style.

An entire science is devoted to the study of handwriting…someday it will be unnecessary. Bewildered, unemployed graphologists will stare at computer-generated documents, the precise, uniform letters conveying nothing.

“I got nuthin…you?”
“The darn things all look alike to me—whoever did this had emotions of steel.”


I'm going to observe a respectful moment of silence while I check my e-mail.

1 comment:

The Marathon Man said...

Funny, as bad as my writing has always been, I write everything in cursive. I guess it never occurred to me to do otherwise. Both kids print though, and they can't spell either. Damn computers.