An Argument for Cursive Writing
Having just stumbled upon an article on the New York Times website entitled "The Case for Cursive," I feel compelled to make a statement about the topic, which has disturbed me since I heard a classmate years ago say to the professor that she was unable to understand his cursive writing on the blackboard. I contend that the retention of cursive writing is important.
One of the comments, by an elementary school principal, quoted in the article was, "Schools today, we say we're preparing our kids for the 21st century." I submit that there are at least three problems with that statement.
First, twenty-first-century education ought, if history is to be progressive, to be an improvement over twentieth-century education. It is manifest that students today do not hold a candle to the students of the twentieth century in any area of liberal arts, nor do the standards of most schools at any level. Critical thinking across society is in the toilet. Hence, the notion that new sets of skills ought to replace those of fifty years ago is spurious —at least until it can be demonstrated that the change will produce better citizens, which demonstration is hardly forthcoming.
Second, if the principal quoted had the ability of my sixth-grade peers in 1962, she would never, ever be able to make a statement about education for the public record that was not a sentence. If she was as educated in language as were my pals in sixth grade, she would have said, "In schools today," and not left a dangling phrase. Thus, her testimony is antithetical to her intended statement.
Third, the ostensibly desirable changes of education to meet twenty-first-century needs is not oriented toward the betterment of people, individually or collectively; it is oriented toward the submission of our thinking processes to the machinations of systems and machines, and the replacement of cursive writing with printing is a direct consequence of that submission. The result is that communication between individuals is being mechanized, and the quality of letter writing of days gone by is replaced with computer and internet-driven floods of nearly mindless quantity.
None of the above offers good arguments for the retention of cursive writing. After all, as much as my study of Latin in high school may help me with verbal usage today, it would be hard to make a case for Latin, when the time spent might have more efficient use on other study. However, all the circumstantial evidence —a world of it— indicates that the loss of cursive writing, replaced by our use of word-processing computers and the occasional sluggish hand-printing, serves to diminish the quality of our communications and, along with it, our acuity in critical thinking. Sound critical thinking is the very first requirement of the new millenium.
- Genghis Lapointe