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Why Johnny Can't Handwrite 1356

theodp writes "Handwriting experts fear that the wild popularity of e-mail and IM, particularly among kids, could erase cursive within a few decades. With 90 percent of Americans between the ages of 5 and 17 using computers, it's not uncommon for kids to type 20-30 WPM by the time they leave elementary school. Keyboards, joysticks and cell-phone touch pads have ruined kids' ability to hold a pencil properly, let alone write legibly, says the former president of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting."
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Why Johnny Can't Handwrite

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  • Thumbs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) <.moc.yggorhp. .ta. .3todhsals.> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:59PM (#6154505) Homepage
    I heard something on the BBC about IM on mobile phones becoming so popular in the UK that the next generation will be using their thumbs to do things we would use our index finger for, like ringing a doorbell. I already don't write in cursive, although I did learn in school and could probably manage if I really wanted to try.

    If you want kids to be able to write by hand, you just have to force them to do it in school. If you let them type everything, they will. Of course, this isn't likely to happen on a wide scale; educators don't get paid enough to care.
    • Re:Thumbs (Score:5, Funny)

      by dtldl ( 644451 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:05PM (#6154616)
      IM on mobile phones being sms text messages which havent caught on in the US, and not long ago, I was forced to do repetative excercises using "joined up" letters so I could write cursively. But whether digitally or on paper, I still prefer writing cursingly than cursively.
    • Re:Thumbs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shivianzealot ( 621339 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:13PM (#6154797)

      If you want kids to be able to write by hand, you just have to force them to do it in school. If you let them type everything, they will.

      A good point if it were plainly beneficial, but really, we'd only be teaching kids to handwrite for the sake of handwriting.

      • Re:Thumbs (Score:4, Insightful)

        by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:18PM (#6154865) Homepage Journal
        A good point if it were plainly beneficial, but really, we'd only be teaching kids to handwrite for the sake of handwriting.

        So if the kids are stuck in a power outage and need to leave a message for someone, how exactly do you propose they do it?

        • Re:Thumbs (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TamMan2000 ( 578899 )
          So if the kids are stuck in a power outage and need to leave a message for someone, how exactly do you propose they do it?

          Print, in all caps if they have to, you can figure that out just by knowing what letters look like when they are typed (being able to read...).
          • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:22PM (#6154942) Homepage Journal
            Worldwide cuneriform literacy down 99.999999999%!
            • Re:In other news... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Carnivorous Carrot ( 571280 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @08:56PM (#6157154)
              > Worldwide cuneriform literacy down 99.999999999%!

              While this is a funny comment, in reality, scientists have demonstrated that physically forming letters when writing, at least during early years, is crucial to understanding writing skills.

              Kids who only learned keyboarding did suffer in their abilities.

              So yes, this is a bad thing folks.
            • by djocyko ( 214429 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @11:11PM (#6157963)
              ah, but I am one of those 0.000000001% =P

              (I've taken three semesters of Akkadian through the History of Mathematics department at Brown Univeristy)

              And, I, for one, will be ready when all the lights are out, all the paper and pens and pencils and burnt wood is gone, and the only thing we've got is conveniently located clay resevoirs...
            • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Interesting)

              by td ( 46763 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @11:31PM (#6158088) Homepage
              I've been told (by a Babylonian scholar) that there are more people alive today who read and write Babylonian cuneiform than at any other time in history.

              When it was a living language, the world's population was tiny and the literacy rate microscopic. The literate of ancient Babylon are far outnumbered by the linguistics undergraduates who study cuneiform today.
          • Re:Thumbs (Score:5, Informative)

            by brianosaurus ( 48471 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:35PM (#6155140) Homepage
            I was addressing some envelopes yesterday. It was the first time i've written anything that someone besides myself had to read in a LONG time. Its weird how hard it is to write legibly when you're out of practice. Still my writing is plenty sufficient for emergencies and my own needs.

            I think anyone concerned with penmanship (even the word seems a bit too self-important) needs to get over it. My report cards all through elementary school showed "Needs improvement" under penmanship, but it didn't seem to affect my getting A's in everything else. I mean how bad could my writing have been if all of my teachers were able to read and grade it?
            • Re:Thumbs (Score:4, Funny)

              by Josuah ( 26407 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @07:24PM (#6156406) Homepage
              My report cards all through elementary school showed "Needs improvement" under penmanship, but it didn't seem to affect my getting A's in everything else. I mean how bad could my writing have been if all of my teachers were able to read and grade it?

              Why don't you ask Mrs. Peebles, your English teacher from 3rd grade? Last I heard, she got hit by a school bus while trying to figure out if some kid wrote Bench or Penis. Don't think your bad penmanship didn't have an earth-shattering effect on the course of history!
            • Re:Thumbs (Score:5, Insightful)

              by ibennetch ( 521581 ) <> on Monday June 09, 2003 @09:12PM (#6157270) Journal
              Bah. When I took the SATs in high school (about 5 years ago) they made us write -- in cursive -- a paragraph stating essentially that we were who we claimed to be and that we weren't cheating. Several of my friends -- and me -- had a lot of trouble with this because we hadn't used cursive in so long we forgot it. And this wasn't because of computers, we were high school kids who constantly took notes in class, wrote assignments and whatnot; it's just that we all printed rather than using cursive

              Personally, I had bad handwriting long before I used computers regularly and stopped using cursive as soon as possible (they make you write things in cursive in elementary school and sometimes in middle school; but I didn't hvae to at all in high school).

              My point? Only that good penmanship and the ability to remember how to write cursive may be dying, but not because of computers. I hated cursive and it actually was slower for me than "plain old" printing.
              • Shoelaces (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Jetson ( 176002 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @11:32PM (#6158094) Homepage
                And this wasn't because of computers, we were high school kids who constantly took notes in class, wrote assignments and whatnot; it's just that we all printed rather than using cursive

                When I was in grade seven a friend of mine could not write but instead printed everything. That was in 1977. I thought it was interesting, particularly since he printed faster than most people wrote. I thought I'd give it a try and found that I was much more legible. Twenty-six years later I still print or type everything, and like my friend of long ago, I am pretty fast at it. I have no regrets.

                What really freaks me out, though, is the number of teenagers who have probably never tied shoelaces. Young kids wear slip-ons and shoes with velcro straps. Older kids have coiled elastic laces. Then there's the floppy-skateboard-shoe stage where the shoes have laces but they are permanently knotted loose enough to just slip on and off. Now basketball shoes come with zippers and skates all use cantilever or ratchet fittings. I guess they'll get Mom to tie their dress shoes when they graduate from college.... :-P

                • Re:Shoelaces (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2003 @08:55AM (#6159849) Homepage

                  Why bother? There are plenty of nice, dressy loafers on the market...

                  IMHO, both good penmanship and the ability to tie a bow knot are destined for obsolescence. They're simply not needed by the majority of our society any more. This isn't necessarily a bad thing! How many of you can churn butter? Tie knots other than bow knots, and know which to use when? Whittle? Perform basic carpentry, or masonry? Care for and ride a horse? Tan leather?

                  Tons of skills which used to be part of everyday life have fallen into disuse, simply because most people don't need to do them any more. And tons of new skills are aquired to fit the new needs. It's called progress.

        • Re:Thumbs (Score:5, Funny)

          by shivianzealot ( 621339 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:27PM (#6155029)

          So if the kids are stuck in a power outage and need to leave a message for someone, how exactly do you propose they do it?

          Use a mechanical typewriter?

        • Re:Thumbs (Score:4, Funny)

          by rking ( 32070 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:57PM (#6155462)
          So if the kids are stuck in a power outage and need to leave a message for someone, how exactly do you propose they do it?

          So my computer should have a UPS, 'for the sake of the children'. Sounds good to me.
    • So...? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TamMan2000 ( 578899 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:18PM (#6154863) Journal
      educators don't get paid enough to care

      Should they even care? I really fail to understand how this is a bad thing. I learned cursive in school but don't use it anymore, because I can type faster and print more far legibly... the only thing that I use cursive for is my signature. And I don't miss it one bit.

      Students today need cursive to succeed in society about as much as I need Morse code to listen to NPR during drive time... They are both skills that will be kept up by small numbers of enthusiasts, and society at large will have only a passing knowledge of the subject, and will be no worse off for it...
      • Re:So...? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:31PM (#6155100)
        An interesting point though, cursive is basically used for about 3 years in Elementary school, and then for signatures. Will we continue teaching cursive simply for the sake of signatures? Or will we start seeing printed signatures, or just give up on the concept entirely?

        The concept of the signature as identification seems rather silly to me anyway. My signature varies tremendously, and lately I don't even really bother finishing my name.

        • Printed signatures (Score:5, Insightful)

          by brianosaurus ( 48471 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:43PM (#6155261) Homepage
          By the time I'd reached high school I had given up writing in cursive. Too many loops, too messy, too hard to read. I didn't see the point. I don't think I was old enough that I was signing things yet.

          At some point when I had to start signing things, I would just sign printed. It was fine for a while, btu at some point someone told me I had to write it in cursive. I said, "but then its not my signature." They disagreed and said it legally had to be in cursive. I said, "well that's stupid," then proceeded to labor through trying to write my name in cursive (just for kicks, I asked the person to show me how to write a capital G so I could make a legal signature).

          After that my signature diminished to my first and last initials with little squiggly lines after each. You know, like celebrities sign autographs...

          Last year when I was signing papers to buy my house, I signed the first page and the notary almost had a fit. She said I couldn't sign that way or it wouldn't be legal. I protested for a bit, but she wouldn't budge, and she was the one with the stamp, so i reluctantly labored through it again for a few pages, then slowly reverted back to my regular signature (so many pages!).

          Signatures are supposed to be personal, like fingerprints. The way I sign my name is supposed to be unique to me. If Joe Dumbass Lawyer can't read my signature, that shouldn't matter. If someone were to hold up a page with my alleged signature, and I can't identify it as mine (or it doesn't match my signature on other documents), it shouldn't be legally binding. For someone to instruct me that I have to use proper penmanship for it to be legal is ridiculous.

          But i digress.
          • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @06:45PM (#6155953)
            What you've been told is a bunch of bullshit. For one thing, it's illegal to discriminate against someone just because they're illiterate. Hence, signing 'X' on a contract is perfectly legal, if that's how you sign your name.

            People that force you to use cursive to write your signature are just so unhappy with their lives that they need to exert what little power they have in order to get through their day.

            (This coming from someone who signs only the first initial of his first name. Hey, I signed something like 500 letters a day for several years, and it's a hard habit to break :)
          • by Zerbey ( 15536 ) * on Monday June 09, 2003 @07:25PM (#6156413) Homepage Journal
            However told you that was wrong. In my home countries (both of them) your signature has to be written in English text but that's the only restriction.

            There's another Urban legend in the USA that states you have to write your first and last names in full on a signature. This is also false.

            Me, I write my first and middle initials and my last name in full - all in cursive. At the end stick a Tengwar rune which is my initial. Yeah, I'm a geek :-) I've never gotten complaints about m signature for anyone, and it's on my passport and green card.

      • Re:So...? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Coz ( 178857 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:53PM (#6155401) Homepage Journal
        It's not that they don't care - it's not on a standardized test. "Penmanship" is not something the No Child Left Behind Act requires; neither is memorizing Latin verse. Just as one has gone the way of the dodo, so is the other going, for sheer pragmatic reasons of budget and schedule. What else could the valuable class time be used for, if you drop penmanship?

        BTW, my local public school system dropped it altogether from the elementary curriculum several years back - apart from a few predictable hysterical letters to the editor, gone in a week, nobody noticed.
      • Firstly some background:

        I learned cursive writing in the regular Canadian school system. Back in my grade 4-6 days I was always getting bad marks on cursive writing so my parents requested that the school give me extra exercises on that subject. As a result, I developed very legible, artful cursive writing. It's many years later now and I'm in university (Engineering), but if I pick up a nice Sanford Uni-Ball Vision Micro pen, I can still do it.

        I am also a serious user of typing. As a side effect of learning the alphabet through computer games (thanks to a techie dad), I learned to type before I learned to do regular printing in grade 1. Another side effect was that early on, I could type the alphabet but not know how to pronounce any of the letters. Even as I was learning to write cursively, I could type much more rapidly and accurately than people twice my age: 30 wpm by age 6, 50 wpm by age 12, now 100+ wpm in university (assuming I'm in the groove where I can think at 100 wpm.)

        Why I prefer Cursive:

        Cursive writing is more of an artform to me as well as a tool to enforce certain frames of mind. If I am in a class that requires right brain thought (typically anything that requires critical thought in relation to someone else's non-technical writing) I will use the cursive. It helps keep me in the right-brained frame of mind. My thoughts flow onto the page. When I write something in cursive, it's flowing onto a piece of paper from my pen. It's written there in stone and you can't erase it. (No, white-out does not count.) What I have written there is a reflection of myself that is expressed through words and the physical characteristics of what I have put down onto the paper. Because cursive is like art, a lot more thought goes into what I stroke down onto the paper. It makes me think at a higher level and use my brain more effectively.

        And Now The Case For Typing:

        Typing is incredibly useful to me because of its utility and flexibility. As the girl in the article mentioned, you can easily fix mistakes with a backspace ( or ^H ;-). The main benefit of typing is that whatever you create is infinitely replicable. If your dog eats your homework, you print off another copy. It can be instantly formatted, transmitted, stored, replicated, processed and so on. The difference between handwriting and typing is like the difference between a Band's Live Performance and the CD. You can't perfectly duplicate that piece of paper with your personal pen strokes on it. But you can copy that OpenOffice file to a web server. (And yes, I do use

        The main thing that you lose with typing is the separation of personal effort from the results of that effort. You don't see the emotion and streaks of ink on your word processor. It's the difference between sending a "Blue Mountain E-Card" where you personally wrote the greeting for someone's birthday, and sending a Personally Written Hallmark Card with the same greeting. The effort and thoughtfulness comes through with physical card but not the e-card.

        The Moral of the Story. (According To Me, Anyway.)

        I say that the typing separates emotion/effort from content but with the added value of making something highly utilitarian. You can't replicate the paper, but that makes it all the more precious.

        I say that the purposes for writing and typing do not entirely overlap, and thus neither will cancel out the other any time soon.

        • It helps keep me in the right-brained frame of mind. My thoughts flow onto the page. When I write something in cursive, it's flowing onto a piece of paper from my pen.

          I have the opposite reaction, actually. My handwriting runs at approximately 15-20 WPM (for maybe a half-hour to an hour before serious cramping), while my typing can go at a sustained 90+ WPM (for hours at a time).
          Now the important part: my thoughts, particularly when writing, run in spurts of much faster than the 90 WPM... Probably (for a guess) closer to 120-150 WPM - I think faster than I speak, and being a New Englander, I speak fast. When typing, I can do a pretty good job of keeping up to my thoughts (only having to slow down slightly to allow my fingers to catch up) - when writing by hand, it becomes an
          ula rly

          I find it much easier to be creative when my thoughts can flow onto the paper at close to the same speed they flow from my mind - the only possible improvement I could see is if perfect dictation software comes out... but even then, I'd tend to get dry mouth before I get to the point that my hands cramp.

          While yes, the nice wide loops of cursive are awfully pretty, and that sure puts you in an artistic mind, it's just too damn slow for putting coherant thoughts down on paper.


    • Re:Thumbs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dylan Zimmerman ( 607218 ) <> on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:22PM (#6154954)
      I couldn't write in cursive LONG before I ever touched a computer keyboard!

      Seriously, I was never able to learn it to my teachers' satisfaction in grade school. They always told me that my writing was messy and hard to read and that they would take points off for not writing in cursive. Then when I wrote in cursive, they complained even more, so eventually, I went back to my current writing. If my writing is so hard to read, why can Tablet PCs that Iâ(TM)ve never used before get almost 95% of it? My Newton's HWR accuracy approaches 99% now that I've trained it.

      I just don't see cursive as being a useful piece of knowledge. I can read it just fine, but I don't see any reason to write it. I can write in my script much faster than anyone I know can write in cursive. Everyone Iâ(TM)ve asked has no trouble whatsoever reading my handwriting; so maybe my teachers were just on crack.

      I already use my thumb to ring doorbells and I have never used a mobile phone's keypad. Of course, I use the center of my thumb and they probably mean that the next generation will use their thumb tips, but I really wonder about the conclusions people reach sometimes.
      • Re:Thumbs (Score:4, Funny)

        by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:31PM (#6155088) Homepage Journal
        They always told me that my writing was messy and hard to read and that they would take points off for not writing in cursive. Then when I wrote in cursive, they complained even more, so eventually, I went back to my current writing.

        So let me guess, you're a doctor now? Looks like things worked out just fine...
    • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:28PM (#6155052) Homepage
      the next generation will be using their thumbs to do things we would use our index finger for,

      ...especially if more people start thinking like my girlfriend.

  • Perhaps (Score:4, Funny)

    by greechneb ( 574646 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:59PM (#6154509) Journal
    Perhaps we are just training more kids to be doctors these days...

    • Use Blackadder font in Word, it does wonders for my writing ;) Seriously though, handwriting is a technology and an art, it must be practiced to be improved and maintained. I would argue however that there is still a shred of hope for improving handwriting; through the growth of handwriting recognition software on pda's and tablet pcs. Ah, just makes me wax nostalgia at my (sometimes) tortorous handwriting classes in grade school. Do they even teach handwriting in school anymore? Albeit it was an English s
  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XaXXon ( 202882 ) <xaxxon@gmail.POLLOCKcom minus painter> on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:01PM (#6154542) Homepage
    I think cursive is a solution for a problem that is going away. I know cursive.. most of it. Actually, I'm not really sure what a capitla 'Q' looks like. If I had to figure it out, I'd probably go get a cursive font and type 'Q' and see what it did.

    Back on topic, who cares if kids can't write in cursive? I'd far rather have a kid who can touch type and doesn't know cursive rather than the opposite.

    This is people who can't take change whining that their niche is going away.
    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:05PM (#6154625)
      I perhaps grew up in a middle generation. We were taught cursive but it was never really enforced after 4th or 5th grade.

      I had been typing papers since the 2nd grade (on my C64 baby in GEOS Works or something) and could never find a valid reason for me to use cursive other than Mrs. Soandso said to.

      Cursive is ugly, useless, and difficult to read.

      I think that in the future EVERYONE should be forced to type everything.

      AIM is destroying another MORE important part of writing. Grammar, sentence structure, and spelling.

      having this
      show up on
      your screen every
      time you talk to

      Page length requirements on papers are going to be multiplied by 100 due to that :)

      Just my worthless rambling.
    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:08PM (#6154702) Homepage Journal
      who cares if kids can't write in cursive? I'd far rather have a kid who can touch type and doesn't know cursive rather than the opposite.

      Well, I have always been a fast typist going back to 10 years old and entertainingly, could type faster with two fingers than my junior high type teacher. Proper typing cut my wpm scores back a little, but it was beneficial to learn proper technique. However, my handwriting has always been bad and I tend to default to printing when I have to write. This could be because of my dyslexia, alternatively it could be because I was using a keyboard from the age of 9 or 10.

      To address your point though. Not having good penmanship with cursive (or printing for that matter) did not significantly hurt my ability to get into college, or graduate school or obtain consulting positions so......yeah, I guess I agree with you. There are more significant things to worry about like knowledge of mathematics, science, history and literature among other things.

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zathrus ( 232140 )
      By and large I agree... a lot of the naysayers statements don't hold water either. The kids are still being taught to write, it's just that cursive is going the way of the do-do bird. Shrug -- I can do cursive if forced, but when I write I do it in block print. And no, my handwriting isn't all that good, but it's legible. (BTW, you'd be SOL on that Q bit - I haven't seen a font that "properly" replicates a cursive capital Q, which looks something like a very fancy 2 -- probably because a cursive capital Q
    • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:16PM (#6154849) Homepage
      Actually, I'm not really sure what a capitla 'Q' looks like. If I had to figure it out, I'd probably go get a cursive font and type 'Q' and see what it did.

      It looks, illogically enough, like a '2'.

      who cares if kids can't write in cursive?

      It's true that, after grade school, students pretty much adopt their own style of handwriting, which tends to be an efficient mix of print and cursive (rather like the "print cursive" mentioned in the article, I imagine, except far more improvised). I say "efficient" because, as experience has shown, neither pure print nor pure cursive is the most efficient way for writing anything longhand. People tend to write quickly; if either print or cursive were the path to rapidity, they'd be commonly used, don't you think? We do our "print cursives" because our brains have told our hands without us realizing it that this is the quickest way of getting stuff written down.

      But the reason people can even read each others' impromptu scrawls (doctors excepted) is because all those "print cursives" have their basis in common foundations: regular print and the Palmer Method. We take the gold standards of penmanship and unconsciously adopt them over many years to whatever speed needs arise--but the standards had to be in place first.
  • by osgeek ( 239988 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:01PM (#6154543) Homepage Journal
    Good riddance to those pesky writing implements, I say.
  • by Chip Salzenberg ( 1124 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:01PM (#6154544) Homepage
    Oh, heavens! The ability to properly illuminate latin texts is probably dying out as well. However shall we cope?

    I'd really be concerned if our spelling and math were slipping. Um, hold on a minute....

  • by Binestar ( 28861 ) * on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:02PM (#6154550) Homepage
    It takes much longer than typing (I can type 70WPM, but I bet I can't write in cursive at even 15-20 WPM.) For me it's about what is more efficient. With typing I can at least know that if I hand someone a typed note they will understand it, while if I hand them a hasitly written postit I have to sit there and make sure they can understand what I wrote.

    (My handwriting was terrible even before I started working on computers...)
  • by esampson ( 223745 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:02PM (#6154554) Homepage
    And in related news, experts at the United States Center for Equestrian Activities have grown increasingly concerned that the automobile will cause a sharp reduction in the horse riding skills of the average American.
  • by NotAnotherReboot ( 262125 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:02PM (#6154557)
    There doesn't really seem to be a practical use for cursive. I learned it in elementary school, and can still read it, but remembering how some of the capital letters are written is beyond me.

    It seems more difficult to read handwritten papers that are written with cursive. I guess I never really saw a speed advantage in cursive, and add the fact that I can type much faster on the keyboard than I can write by hand, this hardly seems like a surprise.

    I can't really say I feel my education would have been compromised if cursive had been left out.
  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zebbers ( 134389 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:02PM (#6154567)
    Ive never ever used cursive. EVER. Papers are typed, or if handwritten they are printed. Letters? Typed. Cursive is useless. Am I clueless, or what exactly is the use?

    Evolve or die. Im sorry your penmanship organization is now going to be useless. Continue to teach the kids to print, that won't be going away all too soon.

    In fact, one of the next revolutions in comp use is handwriting recognition.

    Anyways, my point is. Cursive is useless. I know no one who actually uses it, in a professional common manner. NOT writing letters, notes. Something that REQUIRES it. Or is BETTERED by it.
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvanED ( 569694 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [denave]> on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:02PM (#6154574)
    Cursive is:
    a) hard to learn,
    b) hard to use, and
    c) (usually) hard to read.

    It looks nice, sure, but how many people do you see out bemoaning the loss of caligraphy? (Which looks a lot better than cursive IMO)

    It's good for signatures and the occasional fancy invitation and such but that's about it.
  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:03PM (#6154582) Journal
    Well, throughout school (grade 1 to graduation) cursive was always discouraged. Frankly, it just looks like sloppy print, even when people with remarkable hand writing put the pen to paper. Your average person can barely draw a stick figure, and caligraphy is completely foreign. How well do you think their cursive hand writing will be?

    So fancy hand writing is a lost art, big deal. All you need is print anyways. Leave cursive up to the artsy folks and hand writing hobbyists. *Handwriting is dying.

  • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:03PM (#6154585)
    Studies have found that kids today can't even point to a sliderule in a room, let alone use one.

    Cursive isn't important, and if it died, we would be none the poorer for it.
  • to avoid the "not even able to hold a pencil", incorporate chopstick usage into the kid's diet.

    If you're unfamiliar with chopsticks, one of the two sticks is held essentially the same as a pencil. Getting decent with chopsticks uses some of the same dexerity skills, and if kid's aren't writing much on paper, at least it'll keep them from being completely atrophied in this regard.

    just a thought...

  • by shayborg ( 650364 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:03PM (#6154591)
    Last I checked, almost every elementary school, at least in the US, requires handwriting classes, and every school all the way up to university requires at least some handwritten homework or exams. It's not hard to learn cursive, and even harder to forget it.

    That said, cursive looks nice and all, but it's a lot more difficult to read it than it is to read plain print. I still remember my cursive (for thank you notes and letters to grandparents, etc.) but when writing anything by hand I just use print -- and of course it's not as if I never need to write anything. A sticky note on my alarm clock is much more useful than a sticky note on my computer desktop. Either way, I don't think there's going to be a mass exodus away from use of the pencil anytime soon.

    -- shayborg
  • by Alex Thorpe ( 575736 ) <alphax.mac@com> on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:04PM (#6154600) Homepage
    I'm 32 now, but I was required to turn in all assignments in the 4th grade in cursive. As soon as 4th grade was over, I stopped, as it took me 3-4 times longer to write in cursive than in plain text. My signature is all that remains, and I'd have to think long and hard about how to write in script using letters that aren't in my name.

    It was two more years before we got the TI 99/4A at home, so they can't blame the computer for me.

  • absurd (Score:5, Funny)

    by potaz ( 211754 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:04PM (#6154603) Homepage
    People will always need to jot things down in the forseeable future. What's easier, writing on a napkin or booting up your laptop? (or pulling your Newton 2010 out of your future-pocket?)

    Besides, handwriting survived the introduction of the typewriter...

    What concerns me is not that typing is becoming more popular, but that kids are learning to write on the Internet, to the point where kids hand in assignments with 'internet shorthand' in them, LOL. Wait, not LOL. WTF.

    • Re:absurd (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) *
      sure, we will need to jot things down, does that mean that I have to write it in cursive? I haven't used cursive since the teachers stopped requiring it in 4th or 5th grade.

      When I take notes it's in my cross of scribbling and printing. It works for ME. It's not something that anyone else can really decipher.
  • So? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yamla ( 136560 ) <> on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:05PM (#6154614)
    Okay, so kids are soon not going to be able to write cursive. So what? Very few kids these days know how to use a calligraphy pen properly, yet these were mandatory while I was in grade school (1978 on, in England). And you know what, I don't care. While I can still write using my calligraphy pen (and that means using it properly, writing in a typeface suited to it), I don't. It is, for me, a dead art. There's no call for it, not for me in my day-to-day life. Same, I suspect, with cursive writing.

    So yeah, maybe it will die out. But the question really is should we care?
  • Odd attitude (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greg_barton ( 5551 ) * <> on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:05PM (#6154619) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    "The truth is, boys and girls, even if you write a lot of e-mail on the computer, you will always need to write things down on paper at some point in your life," Boell says. "The letters you write to people are beautiful, and they'll cherish them forever. Have any of you ever received an e-mail that you cherished?"

    I find this attitude strange. I have years of old e-mails saved. I cherish many of them, and rereading them brings back memories. I have the first e-mails I got from my girlfriend (going to be my wife soon) and they're saved in my USB keychain. (We met online, too!)

    I know that's hokey, sentimental stuff, but it's true. You can have an emotional attachment to an e-mail. In the end, it's not the media, but (to coin a cliche) it's the thought that counts.
  • by Riachu_11 ( 600557 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:05PM (#6154621)
    If writing is actually not being used enough so that kids can't write, why do we need it? And cursive in the first place isn't that great of an idea. Go read someone else's printed writing. Now go try to read their cursive. Hard, isn't it? It seems to me that if cursive is needed, it will still be learned, and if it isn't needed, you'll just forget it anyway. I actually don't use cursive anymore except for my signature. I don't need it, and nobody else can read it anyway.
  • Could erase cursive? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:06PM (#6154632) Homepage
    And this is a bad thing why?

    I started using a computer about mid high school. The same semester I took a six week typing class. I have been using the keyboard about 70 WPM ever since.

    I typed everything for school that used to require handwriting. When I got into college, I did the same, but I used a computer unlike most students who used a typewriter.

    Now here we are in the 21st century and I can't handwrite worth a crap. I use a Palm OS device with graffiti regularly with decent accuracy. I can sign my name. I can block-print reasonably fast.

    But I haven't been able to write cursive since, say, about 1980. Do you know how much impact this has had on my life?

    About zip.

    We used to require people to know how to take square roots by hand, do long division, or use a slide rule. We don't require these skills anymore? Pocket calculators are everywhere, ubiqutious and disposable. (Not that I don't think it is important to get the basic concepts in grade school.) My point is that what once might have been an important skill may not be in the future.
  • WPM (Score:5, Funny)

    by Superfreaker ( 581067 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:06PM (#6154634) Homepage Journal
    "it's not uncommon for kids to type 20-30 WPM by the time they leave elementary school"

    Bah, I can type way faster than that. At least 40 WPM.

    Kids are slow. They're probably dumb too.

  • Shorthand (Score:3, Informative)

    by bobKali ( 240342 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:06PM (#6154637) Homepage
    Yea, and I'll bet most kids today can read or write shorthand either.

    I remember going to a special remedial handwriting class when I was in elementary school. My teacher finally gave up and taught me how to type.
  • I went to a private school for the first few years of my education, where (even in the early 80's) they had a room full of computers on which we learned typing and programming.

    When I entered the public school ranks at grade 3, I was already behind in handwriting, and was never able to catch up. I can type at a sustained 90+WPM now with no errors, while I can only write by hand at something around 15-20 WPM - much slower than I can think. Additionally, since I pretty much had to teach myself to use a pencil, I apparently use it in a bad way and get painful hand cramps after an hour of writing.

    As more and more kids are learning to type and word process earlier (and as more schools insist on typed reports and/or have computers in the classroom) it seems quite apparent that handwriting skills will decline.

    So, what's the problem with this? I can still write well enough to take notes for my own purposes, and if I'm writing something for someone else, I'm going to type it up (and email it, or even just write up a memo). I don't necessarily see the decline of handwriting as a horrible tragedy, simply a shift to new methods - consider, calligraphy died out years ago (except among artists) and no one shed a tear.


  • by The Panther! ( 448321 ) <panther.austin@rr@com> on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:06PM (#6154643) Homepage
    I'm not surprised. Cursive writing was for people in a hurry. Now we have a better method. And now the so-called Master Penmen are upset that their little hobby will be archived next to the hurricane oil lamp and the carrier pidgeon. I bet the society of telegraph engineers were very upset about the telephone as well, but there's still a few out there using it.
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:07PM (#6154664)
    I'm 29, and I graduated from highschool in 1991. I was taught forcibly to write cursive, because computers were not yet so pervasive as they are now.

    I could never write legibly.

    Frankly, I think people are just grasping for excuses. Now, we have people using computers as the reason for illegible writing. What was it before computers were so common? Laziness? Lack of talent? Why aren't those still the reasons?
  • Umm (Score:5, Funny)

    by shirameroix ( 595121 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:08PM (#6154685)
    "International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting"

    Wow... there is such an organization? Oh man, I thought that I was a dork...
  • What Cursive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:08PM (#6154687)
    The last time I used cursive was taking the SATs. I had to copy the honor pledge in cursive and sign it.

    I ended up just printing it and going back and connecting the letters randomly because it was so much faster and looked plausable enough anyways -- better than taking the time to try and write proper cursive.

    Even my signature is *barely* cursive...only about half of the letters are real "cursive" letters, and maybe 2-3 of the connections are done properly. And I don't even have a very long's 8 letters total in my signature, first AND last names.
  • by foolip ( 588195 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:08PM (#6154699) Homepage
    Disclaimer: No, I didn't read the article, I'm just ranting.

    I can't say I'm surprised such observations can be made. Nor am I upset about it. People will gain the skills they require, and if being able to write by hand legibly isn't a must we simply won't be very good at it. I expect that making words stick will be done by other methods than pencil and paper in the future, and the ability to write will be no more a requirement than it is for us to manouver a horse today.

    Perhaps in a few decades writing by hand will be more of an art-form than something everyone needs to do.
  • by Nick of NSTime ( 597712 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:10PM (#6154732)
    I write in all block caps, military-style. It comes from growing up as an Army brat and then enduring a brief engineering education.

    I've found that in this "globalized" economy, clearly written English is extremely important to communicate with English-as-n > 1-language speakers. The block style eliminates confusion between letters; the letters are the same as those on a typewriter.

    Suffice it to say that I think cursive is pretty useless.

  • by WalterDGeranios ( 678649 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:12PM (#6154769)
    Keyboards, joysticks and cell-phone touch pads have ruined kids' ability to hold a pencil properly

    That's funny. Is the reverse true? Do people that can properly hold pencils mash cell phone keypads, pull keys off keyboards, and gnaw on joysticks?

  • by chia_monkey ( 593501 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:13PM (#6154786) Journal
    It would definitely be a shame for people to miss out on a lot of history. A lot of works (written in English nonetheless) were written in cursive and our kids won't have any idea what they're reading. It will all be Greek to them. Granted I don't write in cursive much either, unless I'm writing a nice letter to someone, but the inability to read it would be quite detrimental.
  • uniquely american? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lethe1001 ( 606836 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:13PM (#6154788)
    Such attitudes are worrying to a growing number of parents, educators and historians, who fear that computers are speeding the demise of a uniquely American form of expression.

    buh? uniquely american? surely cursive script wasn t invented here? do other countries have cursive handwriting?

  • Not critical (Score:3, Interesting)

    by autechre ( 121980 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:15PM (#6154822) Homepage
    I'm 25, and I stopped using cursive back in high school. Printing is so much neater, and it can be just as personalized as cursive.

    Obviously, some sort of writing-by-hand is still a necessary skill. If you're trying to take notes in class or a presentation which include diagrams, tables, complex equations, etc., I haven't found a computer interface that can match a pen and paper for speed and expressiveness. And post-it notes will always be around (how many times have you seen one stuck to a computer screen?). The teacher's point about handwritten letters being much more meaningful is a good one.

    But bad handwriting isn't some new problem that has been introduced by widespread computer use. Worsened, perhaps, but I have ancient joke collection books that have the one about a doctor's prescription note being used for its intended purpose, then as a train pass for a year, and finally played on the violin.

    There are plenty of people that just weren't going to have good handwriting anyway, and then there are people like my friend's father, who labels floppies using careful Medieval calligraphy (inkwell and all, IIRC). It will continue to be like that. The sort of people who send handwritten letters because they mean more will continue to do so.

    Writing should and doubtless will still be taught, but I don't think it's a problem if it's slightly de-emphasized in favor of keyboarding skills, which are more relevant. When I was in elementary school, no one was typing their papers, but now almost everyone is (in this part of the U.S., anyway). The bulk of communications will probably be done via a keyboard (or some newer device) rather than handwriting. And not without reason; some of the kids' quotes in that article are dead on. Rough drafts in pencil (and rewriting twice in ink) royally sucked.

  • Printing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent.jan.goh@ ... m minus math_god> on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:16PM (#6154846) Homepage
    As long as kids can PRINT the letters, who cares if they can write cursive or not?

    I was always told that writing cursive is faster than printing, which I now hear has been pretty much disproven. Most people will do a form of cursive-ish writing when printing something quickly, and it's faster because they aren't tied down by a bunch of meaningless codified rules that tell them what's fastest for them to write.

    Cursive is a moronic system. I've always hated it. The sooner it's abolished from everything except the hobbiest's view, the better.
  • by TomatoMan ( 93630 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:17PM (#6154857) Homepage Journal
    And I'm not even talking about cursive. I mean ordinary printing. I type virtually everything, and have for about 15 years now - and shortly after I learned Palm Graffiti for my III in '98 or so, I found I started making my printed letters like Palm graffiti - and now, I can really barely read my own writing. Writing legibly takes TREMENDOUS effort, and it's so gawdawfully slow.

    I look back at high school papers I wrote by hand, and I can barely believe how far I've fallen in 20 years. Handwriting is a long-lost art, for me.
  • by Mike Schiraldi ( 18296 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:18PM (#6154875) Homepage Journal
    I went to Catholic school for ten years, forced to write in script. Like eating those disgusting communion wafers and wearing an awful school uniform, the mere thought of it brings up anger tempered by the relief that nobody will ever be able to force me to do it again.

    How happy to read that the world is rising up against at least one of the three.
  • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:21PM (#6154926) Homepage
    The protypes of these kids are people like me. I got my first computer when I was ~6, could easily touch type before I left primary school, and can probably beat 50 WPM easily, even in C - let alone English. (Not including debugging time, regrettably.)

    On the other hand I can write very fast and pretty accuratly as well. It takes me under 10 minutes to fill a side of A4 (~500 words or so) with words that make sense - a skill I _had_ to develop for exams. One of my economics A level papers required about 8 sides of answers in two hours. (That seriously kills your hands folks!) I was perfectly capable of writing in cursive before leaving primary school however, spending several hours a day playing with computers didn't make me forget what I had been taught.

    If these kids can't write in cursive however, because they are too stupid to learn it or remember it, what can they possibly write that will be of any use?

    At least with the proliferation of computers kids are _reading_ and practicing reading - a far more useful thing than writing. After all, if you can learn to read you can find a book that tells you how to write.

    What shouldn't be allowed is the continuing trivialisation of computers - the idea that they are there for nothing but entertainment. There are people in this world who don't actually realise that the black box they use every day can be hacked to make it do far more interesting and fun things, to make it do what you want better or faster. Common perception of people who do hack around is that they are doing something wrong, not something right! This IMO is far more dangerous than any slip in percieved handwriting ability in children and corrected as soon as possible..
  • by leko ( 69933 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:40PM (#6155217)
    to keep the left-handed man down! Don't listen to this handwriting propaganda. Typing sets you free!
  • by glazed ( 122100 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:41PM (#6155225)
    I cross my 7's, my Z's. I put a slash through it if it's a zero. It's generally very neat, consistently universal. It is not however perfectly suited to graph paper like his. Mine is adapted well to legal pads, which I became a fiend of in business school. He was a mechanical engineer.

    I learned cursive but abandoned it in favor of block print. Our cursie was "Daneelean??" and very suited to being a 3rd grader, but I didn't feel it was...professional.
  • by _ph1ux_ ( 216706 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:49PM (#6155335)
    I have been involved in drafting since I was a little little kid. I was given an engineering text book by my grandfather when I was young, that same book turned out to be my text book in High School drafting classes.

    By the time I had gotten to high school I had drawn every last thing in that book many many times.

    During all this time - learning drafting - I perfected manually writing at 1/8" text.

    I haven't been able to write in cursive since grade or middle school. I can ONLY write in block text.

    I can actually write each individual letter in cursive still - although I just am terrible at getting them to connect well.

    so its not just computers and such, but more how you actually practice writing for the forative years that will have impact.
  • by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @06:02PM (#6155523)
    I'll say this: in much of Asia handwriting skills are still important.

    This is especially true in China and Japan, where both languages uses thousands of unique characters for the written language. Because of this situation, these two languages are not easily adopted for computer use, though the Japanese have tried with special keyboards and the JIS, Shift-JIS and EUC character sets. Is it small wonder why low-coast fax machines first took off in popularity in Asia, because it was in many ways faster to write up a handwritten note in Japanese and fax it to another location than to use a Japanese language keyboard to create the characters and then send the message electronically?

    Besides, writing Chinese and Japanese characters is still considered a revered art form in Asia. That's why a lot of art exhibitions in China and Japan show the masterful art of calligraphy, especially writing characters with brushes.
  • Good Riddance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @06:59PM (#6156147) Homepage
    Cursive writing was invented, to the best of my knowledge, in order to speed up the ordeal of getting things on paper; for most people, writing out each letter is tediously slow. "Lettering" (such as that found in fancy documents, ala The Declaration of Independence) was relegated to more formal tasks, while today's "text" was for labeling things, ease of use understanding, and every-day use (such as on signs and notes on the washboard for Mom).

    Now, with a nearly universal advent of computers, there's little need for 'cursive', as you can type many, many times faster and more legibly than you can write in cursive. Cursive is an anachronism.

    Personally, I'm glad cursive is on its way out. In grade school, I always hated it - I could write faster with my handwriting (which was more of a script anyway, but it wasn't "cursive"), and would cramp my hand like a mofo. As soon as they stopped forcing us to use it, I was done and through with it. Now I use it for is my name, relegating any handwriting to either palm grafiti (on paper, yes - at least something closely approximating it) for my own personal scribblings, or simple engineer's lettering (those of you that don't know what that is, it's basically blocky, all-capital letters).

    If you need something fancy, that's what laserjets are for. Sure, there's still room for things like caligraphy, but that sure as hell isn't cursive.
  • by RestiffBard ( 110729 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @07:41PM (#6156583) Homepage
    What a freaking whiner. As for text not having the passion of cursive, who gives a damn? The passion is in the words. As for cursive being more arty or beautiful, hogwash. Well placed text on a nice website can be freaking gorgeous. Someday humanity will get over the disease of nostalgia. I can't wait. Things change. They always have. I hope they always will.

    As for the methods younger people, and older people employ to write, who cares again? Again, language changes and English is certainly the most mutatable language in the world. It's supposed to change.

    Has anyone noticed that no one writes an f as the first s in any word? No. Who cares? Other than the President of that association.
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @08:04PM (#6156775) Homepage Journal
    Educators are also worried that kids aren't learning proper spear-making technique.

    Shockingly, no one gives a fuck.
  • by nekron-99 ( 574699 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @08:08PM (#6156808)
    American cursive writing was created by the American educational system. The cursive script was taken from script from a silver engraver. Somehow this style of writing was adopted by the American educational system as the standard. Unfortunately, this style of writing is awkward and unnatural. Originally, Europeans wrote in a script called "italic". It was based on a writing style from Italian monks who perfected ergonomic writing thru years of transcribing manuscripts. This style is marked by curves and ligatures that are more natural to a human's style of writing. Studies have shown that people who forget the cursive style that they learned in school and gravitiate to what comes natural starting with printing as a base, write much faster and more legibly than those who adhere to the "cursive" style forced on them in school. I myself, after years of illegible handwriting, researched this and came across some wonderful books about he subject. These are: "Write Now" and "Italic Letters". These books opened my eyes to what I had intuitively come to realize: American cursive is unnatural and slow and people who define their own styles using natural human tendencies write more legibly and faster. I hope someday, that students will be taught the ergonomic "italic" style of writing in schools. They will learn to write much faster with less effort. I still remember in 5th grade a boy who had handwriting that looked like a seismigraph. The teacher would get so frustrated with him because he wouldn't write the traditional "American cursive" way. The teacher ended up giving him an "F" in writing. This is just ridiculous. Teachers should let children write in a style that is natural to each individual child instead of forcing them into an ornate, complicated, unnatural way of writing.
  • by raytracer ( 51035 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @08:19PM (#6156901)

    Just to put some perspective on my background, I've taken calligraphy courses, both for Roman alphabets and for Chinese. I admire beautiful, clear handwriting as much as next person, and I believe that writing letters "the old fashioned" way has something to be said for it in terms of "romance".

    But we don't send kids to school to teach them to write because of the "romance" of hand lettering. We teach them it because it is a valuable communication skill.

    First of all, let's examine the legibility of cursive writing. I'm sure we have all got a relative whose writing is absolutely illegible, and odds are they were writing cursive. Cursive is simply harder to read. That should be evident by its near total absence from any kind of print media. If cursive writing were easier to read, you can bet that all the paperback books that you see would be typeset with cursive fonts. You don't see that, and the reason is obvious: you'd take a dull spoon to your eyes and gouge them out after only a few pages.

    So if it's hard to read, then why bother learning to write that way? Well, the justification is usually that it is faster. The reality is that most people can only write cursive letters about 10% faster than they can print them. I know that I can print very nearly as fast as I can write cursive, and more importantly, you can decipher my printing, even when I am in a hurry, even when you have to read pages of it.

    If we really were interested in teaching children to write fast, we'd have them learning any of a number of shorthand systems [].

    You want to do kids a favor? Get them typing. They will have neater work with less effort and fatigue. They'll produce work faster. They'll have more time to concentrate on what they write rather than how they write.

  • by Bodrius ( 191265 ) on Monday June 09, 2003 @08:25PM (#6156942) Homepage
    ... complain about times changing. News at 11.

    I too fail to see what the big deal is, although the source of the moaning, as well as some button-pushing (since when is calligraphy a "unique form of American expression"?) tells me this has more to do with certain teachers afraid to lose their jobs as the skill they teach becomes irrelevant, than with the real consequences this could have.

    Notice the lack of studies of any kind. There's a lot of "some say", "few statistics", "many adults", etc. No numbers, and no solid source.

    Nor are there any quotes (much less trace of concern) by someone in the position to deal with this as a "problem". It's not that the Department of Education has to go out and say something about it, it's that it's interesting that no one asked anyone but a "teacher fighting the trend" and "a 54-year-old artist" who's former President of an Association of People Who Make A Living Writing And Teaching Cursive.

    The only other people complaining apparently "parents who pride themselves on their penmanship", "bemoaning" that their kids don't write as they do. The tone is the same the mother might use to "bemoan" their daugther not taking the same piano lessons, the same ballerina classes, or perhaps having the debutante ball she had at X age. All that was so "character-defining".

    This is a "social interest" story with no substance, not even as little as would be expected from the subject.

    Considering the deficiencies in basic math and language skills present in US education (not to mention geography, history, literature and all that useless "general culture"), I would think there are more important things to worry about in education than whether Little Jimmy pens or types his homework. For example: whether he can actually do his homework, and learn something from it.

    If they want to teach children an artistic skill that shows "your inner being, your core" and "it's not translated into dollars, like computer skills", I'm sure private lessons could be accomodated somewhere between tap-dancing and archery.

    It proves nothing, shows nothing, says nothing, except that some people like penmanship so much they forgot why schools teach the Palmer Method of Business Writing in the first place: as a business skill.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2003 @12:40AM (#6158399)
    when I was a teen (14 or so), I was taught to write down morse code (as I copied it) in ALL UPPERCASE. the military does this (I was told) and it was due to speed in writing. you can write in all uppercase block letters faster than in upper/lower and cursive just doesn't cut it when copying morse code at 40words per minute.

    so at a very early age, I started to lose my ability to handwrite. then a few years later I got my first computer (trs 80) and from then on, even my schoolwork was done with a printer (dot matrix!) and very little was hand-written.

    I'm now over 40 and still have to think about how to write those checks out - where you have to -write- the amount of the check in cursive ;-) weird to think that's the only reason for me to still know cursive. of course I type well over 100wpm - but handwriting is worse than a doctor, at this point.

    well, its trading one skill for another. I don't mind all that much - but it is interesting to see such a big change in skillsets in such a short amount of time.
  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2003 @03:07AM (#6158912) Homepage
    Take a look at letters and such written by 8-11 year olds back in the 1800's, esp. the latter part. You will find that in many cases, those children of yesteryear were able to write and compose stories better than many contemporary adults, let alone children. I tend to wonder what this shift in ability says about where today's society is, and where it is heading...?

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.