Further Evidence for the Demise of Cursive

I've written a couple of times about the demise of cursive handwriting. Its proponents' arguments have pretty much been reduced to (1) it is the apotheosis of all that is good and holy in written communication and (2) if we don't learn to write in cursive, we won't be able to read cursive. If you're like me, you won't find either of those arguments compelling.

Recently, I came across a column in The Washington Post Magazine by Gene Weingarten entitled Cursive, Foiled Again in which, with tongue firmly in cheek, he talks about cursive handwriting and how young people simply aren't learning it. What struck me was the ages of the “young people.” I had imagined that today's elementary school children weren't learning cursive but Weingarten relates how neither a 28 year old colleague nor his son, also 28, had been taught cursive. Surprised by this, Weingarten checked and discovered that schools have been deemphasizing cursive for the last 20 years. Of course that will vary by state and school district but the trajectory is clear.

Weingarten's column is amusing and worth a read. I especially like that he confirms my suspicion that the real reason the traditionalists maintain their death grip on cursive is, to quote Weingarten,

Why shouldn’t kids today have to suffer through learning cursive the
way we did, and from the same idiot book, which seemed to have been
designed by 19th-century French fops with perfumed doilies in their

Yes. I remember those books. Whether or not they were written by French authors, I recall that even as a third grader I found them annoying.

I am more than ever convinced that cursive—and probably all handwriting—is in a death spiral. It won't bother me but there seems to be a lot of people for whom it appears to be the apocalypse.

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  • John

    Several years ago, I took the LSAT exam because it seemed like an interesting challenge and I was toying with the idea of getting a law degree. At the time, the writing sample on the exam was required to be in cursive.

    It took me a few hours of prep time just to reconstruct what little I remembered of cursive writing.

    I think (and hope) that requirement is no longer in place. It was odd at the time, but by now it would seem like a serious barrier to entry.