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26 Years Old and Can't Write In Cursive

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the but-good-penmanship-is-sexy dept.

Communications 921

theodp writes "Back in 1942, Chicago mail-order house Spiegel's looked to handwriting analysis to identify inconsistent, unreliable, poorly adjusted people. Ah, those were the days. TIME reports we are witnessing the death of handwriting, noting that Gen Y struggles with cursive and the group following them has even less of a need for good penmanship. And while the knee-jerk explanation is that computers are to blame for our increasingly illegible scrawl, literacy prof Steve Graham explains that kids haven't learned to write neatly because no one has forced them to. 'Writing is just not part of the national agenda anymore,' he says. So much for 100 Years of Handwriting Success!"

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921 comments

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Oh Noes! (5, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 5 years ago | (#28828993)

If we let cursive die, calligraphy could be next to go!

Re:Oh Noes! (1)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#28829033)

If we let cursive die, calligraphy could be next to go!

This seems like a controversial topic. Is it really that bad if people forget to write with their hands? Last time I had to (aside from quick notes for myself) was in college.

Re:Oh Noes! (1)

someone1234 (830754) | about 5 years ago | (#28829085)

We can worry about this once the machines stop working for us.

Re:Oh Noes! (5, Insightful)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | about 5 years ago | (#28829103)

No one's talking about being unable to write. What's happening is the death of script. The advantage of cursive over printing is that it is faster and less fatiguing to the hand. Nowadays, for long composition typing is the preferred mode, while the most common use for manual writing is filling in forms... where cursive is undesirable anyway.

Re:Oh Noes! (1)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#28829227)

The advantage of cursive over printing is that it is faster and less fatiguing to the hand.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've seen, the handwriting of Americans don't really differ from print. At least, compared to something like this [freeblog.hu] .

Re:Oh Noes! (2, Interesting)

Shikaku (1129753) | about 5 years ago | (#28829255)

I write essays on paper. Then I type it up. The reason I do this is to make sure I read it over twice, very carefully. And also because I can jot notes everywhere.

Re:Oh Noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829393)

Congrats?

Re:Oh Noes! (5, Funny)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 5 years ago | (#28829291)

What? Cursive is just a matter installing a cursive font.

Re:Oh Noes! (4, Funny)

tempest69 (572798) | about 5 years ago | (#28829299)

actually, the problem is that schools arent teaching children to text.. look at how many 40year olds struggle to get out a paragraph in 15 minutes.
Texting would be the far more appropriate skill to teach.

Storm

26 years (5, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#28829007)

26 year old people are just old enough to have learned to write before computers. If they can't, it's the school, not the keyboard.

Re:26 years (4, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 5 years ago | (#28829093)

This age seems about right. I surfed the first wave of computers becoming ubiquitous in schools.

I was also considered a 'special case' at my school because my hand writing was terrible due to a fine motor disability. I was given a choice between physiotherapy and a laptop computer. Guess which I asked for?

Oh... and guess which I actually got. :P Really, I can't complain because it was probably better for me in the long run.

That also makes me wonder whether people are going to lose fine manual dexterity as a result. Already kids do less manual craft (like building models) in favour of computer games. I wonder if lack of fine motor training will result in a generation that is unable to do anything more accurate with their hands than push buttons.

Re:26 years (1)

orngjce223 (1505655) | about 5 years ago | (#28829131)

If you're worried about their fine motor training, how about teaching them to *assemble* the computers they'll need to use?

Really though, agreed. ^^

Re:26 years (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about 5 years ago | (#28829243)

Someone's gotta be paid to assemble things and hand-solder 12-mil surface-mount ICs. The fewer people know how, the more they get paid, the more incentive there is to learn. It's not really that hard. Strength training and practice, and you can get those skills back if you need them.

Re:26 years (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | about 5 years ago | (#28829419)

Honestly how often is hand soldering of surface mount components actually done? In my career I have seen it a frequent skill for prototyping or one-of-a-kind systems. Never have I seen it done in any mass form though.

Re:26 years (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#28829327)

That also makes me wonder whether people are going to lose fine manual dexterity as a result. Already kids do less manual craft (like building models) in favour of computer games. I wonder if lack of fine motor training will result in a generation that is unable to do anything more accurate with their hands than push buttons.

Everyday life requires some dexterity, too. Just think about your movements next time you put your socks on. Of course it's not as detailed, as e.g. painting, but it should be enough.

And, of course, typing requires dexterity as well. Look at your hands sometime :) The real danger lies in sitting all day in a bad posture.

Re:26 years (1)

kc2keo (694222) | about 5 years ago | (#28829347)

I'm 23 years old and learned to write cursive. But when I started to use computers my usage of cursive began to decline and as a result became bad enough to avoid using it all together. Its just so much easier to type things on the computer like many others I know do. When I do write I utilize print writing.

Re:26 years (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | about 5 years ago | (#28829399)

I'm 40. I have basically no large motor skills (I mean, I can walk around successfully, but forget things like sports or even billiards - not happening.) But my fine motor skills are pretty good. If something needs to be sewed up or glued back together in our house, it's me doing it.

My stepson is 19. He has no fine motor skills except when it comes to his PlayStation controller. I can't imagine him putting a model together - certainly not one that requires glue. His idea of a model was a Lego set.

And his handwriting looks like (to me) a small child wrote it.

Dunno if it's related or just a correlation but it's a data point....

Re:26 years (1)

MikeFM (12491) | about 5 years ago | (#28829139)

I'm 31 and I learned to write cursive. I can't write it anymore because I never need it. Who cares? It's hard to read anyway. Print is more legible which is why they ask you to print on forms. For any long documents I type (and have for nearly twenty years).

This is like people whining that the Internet is changing language. Things change and become more efficient. Is it really a problem?

Re:26 years (1)

tsa (15680) | about 5 years ago | (#28829385)

So you can't explain something on a piece of paper on a terrace somewhere, but you have to lug a computer around with you all the time. Handy! But seriously, being able to write in a readable script is in my opinion one of the most basic skills someone needs in our society. There are so many situations where a pen and paper are handier than a computer.

Re:26 years (5, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 5 years ago | (#28829141)

You are ignoring the atrophy issue. I'm 28 and distinctly remember writing cursive in 3rd grade, but 3rd grade was 20 years ago. Afterwards I could write proficiently in cursive, and for the next couple of years they forced us to write at least some cursive, but after that everything that wasn't on computers we were allowed to hand in with print. The fact of the matter is that it's just easier to both read and write and print.
Hell, the pressures of high school are probably as much to blame as computers, we were expected to create complex, deep essays within 50 minutes. At that point, there simply isn't enough time to worry about your handwriting.

Re:26 years (1)

Sirusjr (1006183) | about 5 years ago | (#28829305)

I agree completely. I only wrote cursive when I was forced to. Once my teachers let me type my assignments I did so and if I had to hand-write, my printing has always been more legible anyways. I remember when I took the SATs I had to write a paragraph out in cursive and I was like EHHHH why does it have to be in cursive?

Re:26 years (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 5 years ago | (#28829369)

I presume you mean "it's just easier to read and write in print"?

I'd agree about the reading, depending on the quality of the person's handwriting. But for writing, it's way easier/faster to write in cursive than it is to print. The biggest issue is that you have to lift the writing implement off the paper far less frequently.

(In TFA, the author says she doesn't remember how to write a Z in cursive. I didn't look it up, but I'd say it looks vaguely like a '3' with 'loops' on the 3 left parts, and slightly tilted..)

Re:26 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829235)

They don't even say it's dying as such, just that it's sloppy. Which makes sense if you think about it. As a general rule the only person that reads my cursive is me, if I need it to be legible to all I use a computer.

Re:26 years (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | about 5 years ago | (#28829379)

I'm 21 and they taught us to use cursive. We were not allowed to print through ninth grade.

Re:26 years (1)

garbletext (669861) | about 5 years ago | (#28829387)

to add a datapoint, I'm 24 in the US and our school had mandatory cursive instruction from first through fifth grade. As in it was a class given euqal time as History and Math. In retrospect, that's just stupid. Except when i have to decipher notes from my grandmother.

Re:26 years (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | about 5 years ago | (#28829405)

It's also possible that the lack of ability has to do with not having had to use it. I am, let's say "older" than 26, and my cursive is pretty much nonexistent as well. I can print just fine but it's often a mix of upper and lower case characters. The truth of the matter is that unless I'm filling out a form or taking notes for myself I'm using a computer and not a pen or pencil. I can text like a madman too - yes with an iPhone touch screen. Actually kind of glad to hear it's not just me :-)

When I was in school we had cursive drilled into our heads. Hours of practice on those stupid mimeographed purple sheets - it sucked! The silly sheets were always too small too so I learned to write cramped cursive to fit on the pages. I was plenty happy to find that I didn't use it day to day when I got older and when I went into the computer field my use of it pretty much evaporated. I will agree that it's troubling to see a skill such as this die off and not see it taught to new students. But in the real world it's simply not needed for many jobs. It should still be taught, not everything is computerized, but I'm not going to be too upset to find out that people not using it are losing it. Seems natural to lose a skill if you don't keep up with it, especially one that can be as complicated as this one. Can we maybe focus more on spelling, keyboarding, and literacy perhaps?

Re:26 years (1)

General Wesc (59919) | about 5 years ago | (#28829411)

I'm 27 and my dad bought his first computer the year before I was born.

Because its a useles skill (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | about 5 years ago | (#28829011)

Nothing in the real world uses cursive. It's all manuscript. Cursive is far harder to read, has more person to person variation, and isn't really faster to write. In addition, there's plenty of evidence that teaching it harms children's education by confusing them. So long as they can still read and write script, there's nothing to be concerned about here.

Re:Because its a useles skill (5, Insightful)

cmdrkynes (1582503) | about 5 years ago | (#28829075)

These are not facts. You pulled this straight out of the air. I have absolutely no problem reading neat cursive riding. For me I can write at least 2x as fast in script and I experience less hand fatigue while writing it because I am not always moving my hand up and down for every letter. Also I am exactly 26 years old. I use it mainly to write in a personal journal which I choose not to type out. Just because you are bad at it doesn't mean that its a completely useless skill.

Re:Because its a useles skill (3, Funny)

Bandman (86149) | about 5 years ago | (#28829219)

Right, but how's your cursive fare against your typing?

There are people who still write using calligraphy. There will still be people who write cursive. It'll just be a niche skill, sort of like Blacksmithing is.

Keep practicing your cursive. Some day you'll be useful in the SCA. ;-)

Re:Because its a useles skill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829225)

Just because you are bad at it doesn't mean that its a completely useless skill.

Like juggling! You'll see, one day my juggling skills will make me useful, and you'll regret it!

Re:Because its a useles skill (4, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | about 5 years ago | (#28829259)

I am curious how you can say you have no problem reading neat cursive when you type riding instead of writing. How do you know you are reading it correctly when you don't know which letters are supposed to be there?

Re:Because its a useles skill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829261)

You are the exception. I am 29 and had cursive training in middle school. I have never used it, with the exception of my signature.

No matter how fast you think cursive writing is it is still slower than typing. What is funny is the number of people who seem to think that the style used for writing is anything other than a tool. Its a tool to convey your thoughts onto some medium. The only point of it is to be readable. Anything else has no real value outside.

Re:Because its a useles skill (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about 5 years ago | (#28829273)

And how many people write neat cursive? 1 in 20? 1 in 40? I think the only time I've seen cursive that wasn't completely illegible was when we were learning it in school, and on some 100 year old documents. I have not so fond memories of reading cursive notes from my parents left on the kitchen table and spending 20 minutes with my sister trying to decode them. Hell, half the time *they* couldn't decode them that evening.

Don't get me wrong, you can do write in whatever you want, but there's no point in teaching this to children. No one uses it. And if you really want to write quickly, cursive is not the best way to do it. Learn stenography- it has a standard and is far faster than cursive.

Re:Because its a useles skill (2, Interesting)

Ritchie70 (860516) | about 5 years ago | (#28829381)

The prettiest cursive I ever saw in the real world was by an auto mechanic at a muffler shop. Looked just like they taught me in third grade.

Seriously. He apparently learned it and took it to heart, and it was textbook beautiful.

Re:Because its a useles skill (2, Interesting)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | about 5 years ago | (#28829355)

I can read "leet speak" upside down and in a mirror at the same speed I read a typed page. I have a hell of a time deciphering most people's cursive script. What exactly is your point?

Re:Because its a useles skill (1)

vtcodger (957785) | about 5 years ago | (#28829397)

They are facts for a lot of us.

Please do not assume that because you can write cursive script, anyone can. Tain't so. Many people find the mechanical skills involved to be difficult or impossible (look up Dysgraphia). That includes many people who have no trouble mastering touch typing or using a computer pointing device.

I myself certainly can write cursive script. But in order to write it legibly, I have to work harder than I do to print -- so anything that has to be read by others gets printed or typed.

The only group of people I can think of who routinely use cursive script nowadays are doctors. Their handwriting is notoriously marginally decryptable by the rest of humanity.

Re:Because its a useles skill (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 5 years ago | (#28829089)

So long as they can still read and write script, there's nothing to be concerned about here.

Uhhh, you realize script is cursive, right?

Re:Because its a useles skill (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about 5 years ago | (#28829151)

Bah, I meant manuscript (which is print). Yet another reason to kill it, the confusing names.

Re:Because its a useles skill (1)

lorenlal (164133) | about 5 years ago | (#28829119)

I've (personally) never heard of a study that states that teaching cursive is bad... So, if you could provide a source, I'd be quite glad to see it.

And I believe that your last sentence is the point of the article here... Pretty soon, there'll be a class of people who can't read, and more who can't write the script. I was one of the last (according to TFA) who went through the forced education of penmanship. Mine sucked... In fact, it still sucks... It sucks enough that I may have once received a 'B' since it's pretty hard to harshly grade writing out a c.

But I could at least still read it. I say, so what if it goes the way of greek? It's what the people want? Let em. There'll be few who can read script, and they'll get some benefit out of it I'm sure.

Re:Because its a useles skill (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 5 years ago | (#28829181)

Are you kidding? Cursive is faster to write for anyone (trust me, I had to do a lot of writing in capital letters), more natural (you hardly have to lift your pen off the paper to write a whole world) and less exhausting.

This being said, as a certified dysgraphic, I'm glad to confirm that you're right in that it's now a useless skill. If the first decade of this century was any indication, typing is a more important skill than knowing how to hold a pen.

Re:Because its a useles skill (1)

Broken scope (973885) | about 5 years ago | (#28829253)

Dysgraphic HighFive!

Re:Because its a useles skill (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about 5 years ago | (#28829335)

Sorry, it isn't for me. Cursive tires my hand out after a line or two. Lifting my hand makes it tire less quickly, the break helps. It may just be a matter of my hand being used to the motions used in print, but writing cursive was torture, writing print is easy. As for speed- the only cursive I ever use anymore is signing my name, but I can write my name in print more quickly than I sign it. I should probably just switch to print for that as well, but some people still seem to think writing your name in cursive has some legal meaning, and its not worth the time of arguing with them.

Re:Because its a useles skill (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | about 5 years ago | (#28829351)

Oh yeah forget about writing a signature on checks and employment agreements and employment forms. You can just have someone witness your "X" in place of a cursive signature. Usually it is a signal of illiteracy, but in this case it is lack of cursive scripting skills.

But since almost everything is going to be automated, electronic checks, electronic forms, soon we won't need cursive skills anymore. We'll most likely just use PIN numbers in place of a signature, which the IRS and other companies use for eFiling requests.

Are you freaking kidding me? (5, Informative)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | about 5 years ago | (#28829013)

I'm nearly 40 and haven't used cursive since high school. How is this a Gen Y thing again?

Re:Are you freaking kidding me? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 years ago | (#28829307)

Same here... only slightly younger and I haven't used it since grade school.

If a teacher got on to me during school about not writing in cursive, I did one assignment in cursive and then they never complained about it again. I didn't have the hand muscle coordination to write like that and it didn't hurt me one bit to write in block letters... and people could read it.

Now it's easier to type an assignment than to write it. I don't see what's wrong with that as long as civilization doesn't collapse and we still have computers.

Meh. (2, Insightful)

gardyloo (512791) | about 5 years ago | (#28829015)

M.e.h.

Think it is bad now? (4, Funny)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | about 5 years ago | (#28829023)

Just wait 50 years: "That's right kids, grampa used to use his hands to program computers!"

Re:Think it is bad now? (1)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#28829121)

Just wait 50 years: "That's right kids, grampa used to use his hands to program computers!"

If you mean on paper with a pen, my grandpa would've done that. If you mean the demise of the keyboard, good luck with that. Today, only the keyboard can satisfy the information density required by today's programming languages, and I don't think this will change anytime soon. C or Perl using voice recognition is a good way to lose your sanity :)

Of course, we could design languages specifically for voice recog, but that wouldn't be pretty to read, I promise you.

Re:Think it is bad now? (2, Insightful)

Bandman (86149) | about 5 years ago | (#28829233)

If you mean on paper with a pen, my grandpa would've done that. If you mean the demise of the punchcards, good luck with that. Today, only the punch card can satisfy the information density required by today's programming languages, and I don't think this will change anytime soon.

FTFY

Re:Think it is bad now? (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | about 5 years ago | (#28829263)

Actually rather than voice recognition I was thinking more along the lines of DNI, but yes, the demise of the keyboard is what I was really referring to. We're making great strides there and I could easily see it replacing the keyboard and mouse interfaces just as typing is replacing actual handwriting.

Re:Think it is bad now? (1)

WCLPeter (202497) | about 5 years ago | (#28829317)

Of course, we could design languages specifically for voice recog, but that wouldn't be pretty to read, I promise you.

Yes, because instead of Repetitive Stress Injuries on our hands and fingers, we'll all speak with a hoarse smokers voice from all the talking we'll do. ;-)

Nope, I would much rather see a direct neural interface kind of thing where we could work at the speed of thought. Of course whomever figures this out will need to put a lot of consideration into a Random Cognitive Filter to prevent stray thoughts from showing up in our work. It might be funny to me, but having someone receive a cheque with "Pay to the Order of: Michael Sm... Grace Park is really PUURRDDDEEE!!! ...ith." written on it would probably piss them off.

My cursive was always terrible (3, Interesting)

rbanzai (596355) | about 5 years ago | (#28829029)

I grew up in an era when cursive was still common but I struggled with it right through until the end of High School. It was always terrible. When I got to college I abandoned it in favor of printing and it was a great relief. Now and then I use cursive for a letter because it still is the most personal way to write but it looks as awful as ever.

Cursive still has a place as a form of expression and as such should still be taught, but for the cursive challenged like me I understand its abandonment.

No correlation with intelligence. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829043)

There's no correlation between cursive writing and intelligence. It''s a skill and it can be learned by most anyone who is motivated to do so.

Pretty sad really. (1)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | about 5 years ago | (#28829049)

Well done hand writing is really quite beautiful, but it may be that since no one tends to write hand written letters much, or converse via letters, that the ability to write beautifully has lost some of its stature? It used to be that folks were judged by the recipient of a letter or note on how well the letters were formed. My parents and teachers forced me to write in cursive quite a lot, and already at 6 my son can write pretty well, but the cursive will wait for him for a few more years. Maybe if society put a premium back on it things would change. I honestly so rarely even handwrite anything anymore, that when I pick a pen up, my hands are shaky, and the letters are forced.. God.. I need to do some homework!

Re:Pretty sad really. (1)

powerlinekid (442532) | about 5 years ago | (#28829295)

The style of writing is a tool. Typing will always be faster and more readable than cursive. I see no point in teaching cursive as anything but a form of art and even then eh. It no longer serves a functional purpose.

I can't read it either (2, Interesting)

harmonise (1484057) | about 5 years ago | (#28829051)

I'm almost 40 and I can't write nor read cursive. It makes me feel illiterate when I have to hand something written in cursive to someone else and ask if they can read it to me. But, honestly, people are using cursive less and less these days and I've discovered that I'm not the only one who has trouble reading it.

Re:I can't read it either (1)

Grant The Great (562818) | about 5 years ago | (#28829349)

I know exactly what you mean. I was going through a box of genealogy things left by my late Grand Mother and realized that I couldn't read her hand writing. She was an English teacher for nearly 60 years and her hand writing was impeccable.

I'm 26 so I can understand the article. I recall being taught how to write in cursive in Elementary school for 1 grade, but after that it was basically write however you want as long as it's legible, cursive wasn't enforced and kind of felt like them teaching "Here is one way that you can write". Like the article said, computers started to come of age then and I was already an excellent typist when I learned cursive it had basically became a useless skill that I thought I'd never need. I never realized the consequence was not being able to read and that made me feel really wrong.

Though I work in IT and handwriting isn't a necessary skill, it is something that I've been working on the past few months. Luckily it's like riding a bike, it comes back easily. I do no think that I'll never need the skill, but you never know. I was lucky though, I was exposed to it, the generations after mine probably weren't.

not important (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829063)

Righting in cursive isn't important anymore. Who ever did this study should of looked to see if peoples grammer abilities are any worst then before. From what ive seen, I don't think their.

Re:not important (1)

ledow (319597) | about 5 years ago | (#28829091)

WRITING

Whoever (one word)

should HAVE

people's (possessive)

grammar

any WORSE THAN before

I've

don't think they are.

Bad handwriting won't stop slashdot trolls or grammar nazis existing. :-)

Re:not important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829153)

Whoosh!

Re:not important (1)

ledow (319597) | about 5 years ago | (#28829175)

Not whoosh...

Just an unbearable compulsion to correct.

Re:not important (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#28829365)

They have pills for that you know

-ducks-

29 and cannot write the full ABC's in cursive (5, Insightful)

Tynin (634655) | about 5 years ago | (#28829065)

I tried to recall how to make all the letters, upper and lower case in cursive, and I cannot recall them all. I think the only cursive I've used out side of grade school is when I have to sign my name.

Who cares? (5, Insightful)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | about 5 years ago | (#28829067)

There's exactly one profession that requires cursive handwriting skills.

Third grade teachers.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 5 years ago | (#28829409)

Yes. I'm sure people will adjust the same way as not having written by quill and an inkwell: be just dandy without it, thank you very much. I haven't learned how to write with a stone, hammer and chisel either. Somethings just aren't necessary anymore except for occasional artistic reasons.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Sterling Christensen (694675) | about 5 years ago | (#28829415)

Historical and genealogical research - making cursive unfamiliar will steepen the learning curve.
Cake decoration - its harder to break between letters with a frosting tube.

What do you use handwriting for ? (2, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | about 5 years ago | (#28829077)

Seriously, except letter for a job candidature or a post card, I never use handwriting anymore. And even for the job search , I really do think that hand writing is utter useless, except maybe as a useless filter (can't read his handwriting / can read). Everything I have to do, I do in block writing (official forms, bank receipt etc...) or with printer.

The hand writing is going the way of the draw-cariage with horse. Plainly and simply. Hand writing is QUAINT that is it.

Re:What do you use handwriting for ? (1)

EggyToast (858951) | about 5 years ago | (#28829135)

Most everything that does require you to use handwriting requires printing anyway. Forms, mail, applications, they all want plain printing -- because it's far easier to read (and process by a computer, which means it's more consistent too). The point of communication is to be understood after all. I think far more people realize that it's better to print than write in cursive once they realize that they can only read their own cursive, and no one else's.

Re:What do you use handwriting for ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829185)

...post card...

Post Card? Is this a new Twitter clone? Where does a Gen Y sign up for this?

Re:What do you use handwriting for ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829371)

Ummm.. nearly everything outside of programming and writing email -- and I'm 36. Heck, my cursive is a conglomeration of calligraphy and traditional cursive thanks to my elementary school. Even now, my 9 year old is forced to write in cursive for all papers at school and handwriting is graded heavily on readability. Of course, its a private Catholic school and the kids still _learn_ something there.

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829081)

Cursive is uncomfortable on the hands, slow to write, and difficult to read. Teachers make you use it for a while to force you to learn it, but it really doesn't need to exist.

Anyway, don't 26-year-olds still fall under "Generation X"?

Re:Good! (1)

tempest69 (572798) | about 5 years ago | (#28829221)

Anyway, don't 26-year-olds still fall under "Generation X"?

ok,, genX ends at the class that graduated High School in spring 1999, GenZ is the next year of students. so the youngest GenX-er is 27yrs 10 months old. Grade skippers dont count, four year old kindergardners dont count.

Storm
p.s. cursive was a waste of time for Gen-X as well.

The SAT (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829095)

The SAT has a paragraph that has to be written in cursive. I saw many people (including me) struggling to write it. To make things worse, the proctors would usually only say "write not print", and a lot of people did not know that that meant cursive.

Block letters (1)

kensai (139597) | about 5 years ago | (#28829097)

Hell I'm 36 and write in all block letters. Even though I can do cursive, years of drafting has trained my muscle memory to write in block letters.

Signature and that's it (5, Insightful)

m.dillon (147925) | about 5 years ago | (#28829101)

The only cursive I use, oh, since high school, is to write my signature. And I hardly even bother with that any more either. I just put down a squiggle.

-Matt

Re:Signature and that's it (2, Funny)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 years ago | (#28829339)

My squiggle has been standard since 1983, when I spent an afternoon writing my signature over and over again, until it evolved into the most efficient thing I could muster that still resembled an attempt at writing.

A couple of broken fingers will put an end to it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829109)

I used to only write cursive up till my sophmore year of high school. I, on seperate occasions, broke my ring finger and pinky finger on my dominant hand. So for a good portion of the year, anything i wrote i printed. Haven't been able to write script since aside from signing my name.

Imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829113)

... a time when people can't read "John Hancock" or the rest of the declaration of independence.

Teachers don't care / It isn't taught (4, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | about 5 years ago | (#28829115)

Seriously. The answer is easy.

The whole thing on the 'decline of handwriting' is just silly. Anceint Greek isn't taught in most schools either - should we lament the 'decline of 26 year olds being able to understand Ancient Greek'? Of course not.

They can't write in cursive because cursive is either not taught at all, or taught poorly at best - and /nobody cares/ whether or not you can write well.

Cursive is obsolete, and counter-productive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829123)

I hate cursive. It's a pain in the ass to remember half the stupid letters, and it takes longer to read than standard print. If I'm writing something that I expect anyone else to ever have to read, I print. If it's just notes for myself, then I use a quick blend of sloppy print & half-assed cursive. Only some of cursive is actually easier and quicker to write anyway.

However, if I'm doing anything important, it gets typed. Why is this even relevant? As said above, cursive is strictly the domain of third-grade elementary teachers. And even there, they should be spending that time teaching something useful, like typing or reading comprehension.

Ball Point Pens Destroyed Cursive (5, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | about 5 years ago | (#28829127)

Meryl Streep's character in Doubt had it absolutely right. Ball-point pens are to blame. People in my parent's generation who learned to write with fountain pens always seemed to have better handwriting than me. I always struggled with cursive in school: my writing was very slow and messy.

A few years ago I bought my first fountain pen, and now, writing is a pleasure. I still don't write terribly neatly; it seems whatever pen you learn to write with determines your handwriting for life. But I can write in cursive much faster and my penmanship has improved a bit. If you have never tried a fountain pen, I urge you to. I never thought writing cursive could be a pleasure.

Re:Ball Point Pens Destroyed Cursive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829331)

A few years ago I bought my first fountain pen, and now, writing is a pleasure. I still don't write terribly neatly; it seems whatever pen you learn to write with determines your handwriting for life. But I can write in cursive much faster and my penmanship has improved a bit. If you have never tried a fountain pen, I urge you to. I never thought writing cursive could be a pleasure.

I agree that a better pen can make writing much easier/better, but I don't necessarily agree with the need for a fountain pen. Pretty much anything other than a 5cent BIC pen will be a huge improvement without all the potential mess.

Buying pens by the bag-full and expecting to get a decent writing experience is the problem.

Re:Ball Point Pens Destroyed Cursive (5, Interesting)

Ragzouken (943900) | about 5 years ago | (#28829407)

For us users who have never used a fountain pen without it scraping horribly along the page, could someone explain what's so great about them?

What is the point of cursive? (1)

TejWC (758299) | about 5 years ago | (#28829145)

As a 25 year old, I was taught good handwriting and cursive when I was in grade school. However, after elementary, I found it pointless to write in cursive anymore. As a matter of fact, in my generation, most people's cursive is worse than their "regular" handwriting. To complicate matters, when we see a cursive "n", we often misread it as "m".
Other things I noticed about our generation is that we have a harder time seeing hyphenated words (as they often appear in newspapers, but almost never on a computer) and we tend like our san-serif fonts more than the regular serif font.

Cursive vs. handwriting (4, Interesting)

cratermoon (765155) | about 5 years ago | (#28829163)

By "cursive" English writing learned in school, most people probably got taught the Palmer Method [nystamp.org] or possibly D'Nealian. While it was considered to be aesthetically pleasing, it was really hard to do right. I learned it in 3rd grade and never was any good at it. Not only that, but the Palmerian style was the one you lefties like me hated, either because they forced you to use your right hand or just because you could never get the slant right and still form all the letters while staying on the baseline. On the other hand (haha), writing by hand neatly and legibly still has value, and if you like working with your hands its worth looking at something like Getty-Dubay or other modern italic handwriting style. I re-taught myself from a couple of books over a summer a few years ago. In any case, if we are losing the ability to do Palmer Method writing, who cares? It's not even that easy to read when written well. BTW this is very Western alphabet-centric. Arabic, Hebrew, and most asian languages still have a strong handwriting grounding.

One picture is more than thousand words (1)

dvh.tosomja (1235032) | about 5 years ago | (#28829177)

Need I say more? [imageshack.us]

And I'm still mourning ... (4, Funny)

Skapare (16644) | about 5 years ago | (#28829183)

... the death of Blackletter [wikipedia.org] .

Re:And I'm still mourning ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829231)

... the death of Blackletter.

Don't worry. I'm sure the Fourth Reich will come along before you know it...

I'm 26 years old (1)

KikassAssassin (318149) | about 5 years ago | (#28829187)

I learned to write in cursive while I was in school. Then I entered the real world and have never had any use for it since.

Re:I'm 26 years old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829359)

"Then I entered the real world and have never had any use for it since."

I hit that point in 4th grade. Haven't used cursive since then and never will again. Didn't need it in high school, college, or the working world.

Funny story, my 11th grade English lit. teacher tried to require all the papers he assigned to be written in cursive. By the second week of the school year, after it became apparent that nobody could write in cursive due to either not having used it in years or not having learned it at all, he required the papers to be typed instead, except this was 1996 and not quite everybody had a home computer yet. After he found THAT out, he caved and said "just turn it in, I don't give a fuck" and that was that.

Italics (1)

louiswins (1017272) | about 5 years ago | (#28829191)

I've been trying to learn to write italics from this website [ismennt.is] recently. Although I don't write very much, I think it's (or it can be) a beautiful form of expression.

I'm 19, by the way, and while I can write in cursive, I have to think about it, while with printing I don't, so I tend to print almost everywhere. I'm trying to get to the same point with italics.

Explain to me why? (4, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | about 5 years ago | (#28829203)

Why do we need cursive writing to begin with? While I think that there should be some attention paid to penmanship I don't see the need to write in two fashions anymore than I see a need to learn two systems of measurement.

Maybe one of the reasons American children are falling behind is because the curriculum is filed with crap that is outdated or never needed to exist in the first place.

We'd be best off to get rid of cursive writing and the Imperial measurement system from society and save ourselves the trouble. I'm sure there is more nostalgic and idiotic fat that can be cut from the studies of children. Especially since these two wastes of time are taught in a period of the child's development that bears a ton more fruit per hour invested than it does 8-10 years later when we're teaching high science and math.

I know I dropped cursive writing from my skill set the moment I was no longer penalized for not using it.

Age-related CAPTCHA (5, Funny)

Crash McBang (551190) | about 5 years ago | (#28829249)

Just use handwriting in a CAPTCHA to filter out the twentysomethings!

Good riddance (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 5 years ago | (#28829267)

Cursive is harder to read than print anyway.

Personally I think it's an excessively flowery style that does more for the writer's artistic ego than it does the reader's comprehension.

Though I'd much rather see "doctor print" go away first.

I'm 26, and... (4, Interesting)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | about 5 years ago | (#28829343)

I'm 26 and I've struggled with poor handwriting my entire life. And that was not because my teachers didn't try. In my early years, handwriting was graded curriculum- Thus, despite straight A's for everything else, my performance always looked mediocre because of the C's and D's I'd get in the handwriting portion. I can still remember that wide-ruled shitty tan paper that tore if you used an eraser. Line after line of cursive A's and V's, then the next week O's and B's. And on and on, when I could have been learning something useful.

My handwriting now looks identical to my handwriting from at least as far back as 6th grade. And those were the days before we ever typed anything. In high school I hand-wrote papers and notes literally by the ream, and my writing never improved.

Interestingly, my handwriting is very close to my father's, and I saw very little of his writing as I was growing up. We do share some psychological issues which are almost certainly genetic (runs throughout his side of the family), but making a connection between handwriting->psyche issues would be dubious.

-b

Why cursive? (3, Interesting)

gidds (56397) | about 5 years ago | (#28829357)

I've never understood why joined-up writing is suppose to be better.

For several years, that's what I did just coz it's what I was taught. Then, while at uni, I realised that my illegible handwriting was making my revision almost impossible, and resolved to change it. I did a lot of experimentation, and discovered that 'printing' (i.e. writing each letter separately) was pretty much the same speed, much neater, and remained easier to read even when writing in a desperate hurry. (I.e. it degraded much more gracefully.)

(Another useful thing I found was that most of the information is in the central parts of the letters, not in the ascenders or descenders; so reducing the ascenders and descenders almost to nothing and making the central parts relatively large helps too. And, like another poster, I find a fountain pen or fibre-tip far more conducive to good writing than a ball-point or roller-ball.)

Ever since, that's how I've written. And several people have complimented me on my writing. It may not look especially refined, but it's neat and clear and easy to read, which is the intent.

So: why all this fuss about joined-up writing? Why is it seen as superior, when (in my case at least), it's clearly less successful? Why is it even a requirement, tested for in some schools?

Handwritting (1)

Ummite (195748) | about 5 years ago | (#28829363)

This story really make me think that handwritting *will* one day not be teached. We have to assume that one day when full portable computer will be around 20$, there will be absolutly no need to ever try to write anything, except small note where anyone can write in it's own cursive or simply full letters. Speech recognition with search capability would also nearly remove the need to ever write something. For my part, I've been using computer since 7 yo and I'm now 34, and I can tell you that I'm writing probably 4-5 times faster with a keyboard than with a pencil, and it's 10 times more easy to re-read myself (this is when I'm able read back what I've written, but that's another story).

Ballpoint pens, maybe? (1)

WilliamBaughman (1312511) | about 5 years ago | (#28829375)

Cursive handwriting, even good cursive handwriting, is much more difficult to read than printed text. If an individual can write faster in cursive, then good for them. I personally believe that the past popularity of cursive writing had more to do with the writing instruments that were used - quills and fountain pens - rather than speed of writing or attractiveness of script. Writing with a fountain pen is much easier (in my experience) when you don't take the tip off of the paper. When you lift a fountain pen off of the paper, ink starts to pool at the tip, when you start to write again, you get a big blot if you're not careful. I imagine that quills operate in the same way. Ballpoint pens don't have that disadvantage, although they do require the user to push down on the paper.
          My mother was a professional calligrapher. Am I sorry that computers put her out of a job? No. I'm dysgraphic, thank you very much.
          Good cursive handwriting today can be used to impress people, it's technically difficult and requires practice and a steady hand, but I don't think anyone should lament that it isn't being taught in most schools today. One of my girlfriend's coworkers can catch rabbits with his bare hands. It's impressive, but I don't think anyone is upset that we don't teach that in school. Besides, people are still using ham radios and Morse code, I'm sure that clubs and hobbyists will keep cursive writing alive.
          Edit: Not learning enough HTML to fix Slashdot's comment system is something I do regret.

Like in ancient Egypt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28829383)

We're not quite there yet, but I think literacy might become a special skill for scholars and scribes and arithmetics skills will be the specialty of accountants. The masses will recognize symbols, icons and pictures and they will study with lectures and audio and video recordings. User instructions are already done as cartoon strips with barely any English words in them. Computer program help will be given as video clips much like aircraft safety presentations.

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