Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dotting One's Eyes and Crossing One's Tees

In Spanish class last week, we students had to write sentences on the board. As I was walking up, I overheard one student tell another, "I don't even remember how to do it. It's pointless."

She'd been referring to cursive writing.

I just picked up a piece of chalk and began writing, but what I really wanted to do was turn to her and say, Cursive is extremely practical! People may not often write anything of substantial length anymore (thanks, Twitter), but when they do, cursive is faster and easier on your hand.

I hear lots of kids aren't able to read analog clocks, because it's no longer taught in grade schools. And this cursive-phobic student was younger than me. I am not going to use either example as proof of our society's decline. I fancy myself an optimistic person. And anyhow, I think society keeps getting better (cruise control? Hello!). But I think cursive--and pens and pencils in general--adds something to our society and the way we communicate.

Writing is slower than typing. Which gives you more time to think about what you're writing, and therefore more carefully consider your words. Which just may lead to better writing. Or at least writing that's more thoughtful. I've reaped this benefit with fiction writing umpteen times.

Sure, a cursive capital "Q" looks pretty funny. And both types of "z"s have an awful lot of loops. But, come on. Handwriting. It's so simple. It's tactile. It's real. And if you're left-handed, it's wonderfully messy.

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