My high school English teacher’s handwriting was perfect to the point of looking Photoshopped. Perfectly looping and swooping characters, all of proportional size, width, and pen pressure. “How can I get my handwriting like yours?” I asked her.
“For you, it will be impossible,” she said. So far, she’s right. My cursive is decent, but nowhere near her speed-calligraphy.
For future Indiana students, though, handwriting is headed the direction of soap-making and other skills our parents had that we don’t after Indiana’s Department of Education decided to cut any cursive requirement and give schools the option to stop teaching it altogether.
I get it. We type more often than we write nowadays. But I also use calculators more often than I long-divide, and I’ve never once used the slope formula in my everyday life. In high school I loathed calculus, seeing it as pointless and irrelevant, until I realized math class is more about exercising the brain than ensuring life-long memories of equations. Why is cursive handwriting not seen the same way?
In our self-righteous wisdom as the ‘most advanced humans in human history’, we may see the keyboard as an evolutionary advancement, but instead of becoming more complex we’ve only become more simplistic. I can type in any one of hundreds of thousands of fonts, and I could even make my own. But I use the same ones as everyone else. With handwriting, it’s the other way around: you’ve only got one, completely unique way of creating letters.
We have gone from cavemen banging on rocks, to eloquent alphabetical artisans, and now to Know-It-Alls banging on plastic buttons.
Aside from being poignantly humanistic, writing in cursive also helps create motor skills in children and prevents forgery. It lets us read older documents like the Constitution, and if nothing else, while we’re handwriting we don’t have the ability to get side-tracked on the Internet.
Hang on one sec, I’ve gotta check my email.
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Jason Wire graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and spent the year after writing and teaching English in Spain. He's back in the states now, but doesn't know where. Follow him @wirejr.
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