The Death of Cursive Writing

A month ago there were a flurry of articles that suggested that cursive writing was going by the wasteside; many believing that it would become extinct and would be removed from elementary school education in the US. This news really struck a chord with me based on my upbringing. I was very excited about a new bill that will go before the legislature that will keep this scared skill alive and I hope it continues to be a staple in schools for years to come. This one skill has been part of my young and adult life and it’s one I hope remains for years to come.

My earliest memories of cursive writing start with my mother (most things start with her). I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Jennifer pen “Jacinth Chang” with many loops, bubbles and a dramatic line through “Chang”. As a young child, not old enough to touch the pen attached to the bank desk, I would watch my mother at TD Bank sign, sign and sign. She was also adamant about us writing letters to grandma and cards for all of the major holidays. My grandmother also wrote us in cursive. She also spoke in cursive too. Alas, many letters were written in cursive.

My Grade 3 year was split between two schools – Our Lady of the Rosary in Concord, Ontario for September through November ’88 and I would remain at St. Joseph Richmond Hill until 1992. Mr Tomlin, my Grade 3 teacher at Our Lady taught cursive writing from 11:15-noon each day. I remember how meticulous he was about detail; you could only have 3 unacceptable circles on your page otherwise you missed recess and most important for me, lunch (I was a rather round child and needed to have my lunch). I remember focusing quite hard on getting the letters right — f’s, t’s, everything had to be perfect. We had a supply teacher who flubbed the f, and I remember Mr Tomlin being so infuriated that he made us do two straight days of lower case “f” until we got it right. That same discipline follows me today when on calls with customers, in meetings, or on vacation — you will rarely find me without my special pen or my notebook nearby.

Cursive continued to follow me through university where at Queen’s University where I had my most rewarding and humiliating experiences when it comes to my writing. In my 3rd year, I remember being parked at “Club Stauffer” and I reluctantly let one of my peers, Henry, borrow my Mead Notebook to get a single day of notes. An hour would pass and there was no sight of Henry. I grabbed a ‘Sweet Deal’ at the Commn Ground, walked through the JDUC and noticed Henry, copying what appeared to be the entire book. The entire 1,000 page notebook – multiple courses, multiple copies. Lesson learned = trust no one, but it gets better. Later that evening, I was in the library and noticed piles and piles of papers at one of the shared tables. Familiar looking scribbles on photography stock. While I was looking for Henry, someone else had made another copy of another notebook and the evidence was out in the open. Had someone asked me outright, I may have considered saying ‘yes’, but I didn’t have the option. The theft also occurred among a group where the lines between friend and peer became blurred and then very distinct and far apart. I got over that pretty quickly and closed out the year strong.

I became a volunteer a note taker for disability services at Queen’s University for my Business 101 class. I ditched the Mead in favor of a standard notepad, lined with carbon paper and a secondary sheet which I would give to the student (I kept the originals for myself). I rarely used whiteout so it made sense for me to take part in this service, as it made me feel somewhat charitable and great for the student. Picture my shock when I noticed that the student was sharing the notes with his friendship circle (some of whom had not bothered to even attend the class!). We worked it out and in the end, he apologized as I had to ask why his friend didn’t take the notes for him.

Image

On a happier note, I had the pleasure of going on a recent date where the topic of Imagecursive writing came up. He had some writing to do and mentioned he enjoyed it as he has neat writing. What do you think? Does his writing beat mine? At some point during our chat at Thorough Bread Cafe in San Francisco, we made a point to write each other follow-up thank yous to the date and here they are.

Thanks for reading!

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Comments

  1. Hi Adrian, I had a very similar conversation once with some roommates of mine about 2 years ago (also when I used to live in San Francisco)! It probably is a dying art, as technology is so prevalent. Most people prefer to text instead of write, because it seems a majority think writing tedious. I think you only write if you enjoy writing pretty. It may just become a craft that you learn as an “extra” side hobby in the future as typography text becomes the replacement for cursive, and apps like Evernote become easier as note-taking.

  2. From one Adrian to another. I really like the “A” in your signature! It makes mines look primitive, so smooth and elegant. How does your “D” look? (I swear I only ask because my last name starts with a “D” and my middle name with a “J”)

  3. I see America going down the road in a hand basket. Cursive writing is just another part of our heritage going to the way side. It is sad to think that one some young child will ask a grand parent what language is this and why does it smell so good? And they will say oh my that is cursive writing I have not seen that in years. Cursive writing is not a hobby it is not a extra it is a part of the English language. That too is getting kicked to the wayside. If you were to hand write a letter you would find that cursive writing is faster then printing. I have seen the handwriting (printed) of young people of the age of 20 years old. It looked like mine at the best fifth grade level. It is sad to think that the young people will not experience a love letter with perfume. A written record of thoughts wrote by someone for you that loved only you . Different then anyone else’s handwriting. No two are the same she might have had a fancy A or just the way she spoke. That you could keep forever in a box. Or maybe just to carry it with you in a land far away so she will be close to you. And to help you remember why you are there in the first place. And it was not just a cursive wrote letter. It was the smell of her perfume it was her thoughts it was something for you to hold on to. At this time it was her. It was the reason you got up so you would want to go home. It was as close to her as you were going to be or get at this time of life. For some that is as close as they ever got again to the one they loved. And for some that box of cursive wrote letters is all they have now. JoJo

  4. I think your handwriting is neater. I feel that sometimes its hard to have your own style when it comes to cursive. I think that sometimes you can’t tell who rote what in cursive. But, I think your cursive is yours thats why I like yours better. I know this doesn’t really make any sense but oh well.

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