Cursive to Qwerty

Indiana is the latest in a slew of states that don't require schools to teach cursive anymore, but are requiring "keyboarding."

I may be getting old, but I think this shift from cursive to querty is a shame. 

I remember being both apprehensive and excited to learn cursive in third grade. Cursive was a big-kid thing, a teacher thing. Once you learned cursive, you were practically an adult! I loved tracing the lines, writing the sentences. It was like drawing, for me, except the lines actually went where I expected them to go! I loved it.

For a while.

Once we learned it, we were required to write in it all the time, and being forced to do something always dulls it a little in a kid's eye. When I entered high school, and the teachers couldn't care less how you wrote as long as they could read it, I felt this enormous sense of freedom! I could write how I pleased (and in any color ink I wanted!) Also, having migrated from Catholic school to public school, I could wear colors! Oh, high school. I felt wild and free.

When I started college at Columbia College, the sheer volume of time I spent writing quadrupled. Quintupled. Hex-uppled? Well, it increased. Two fiction classes a semester will have your forearms muscular and your tendons screaming for relief. It was then that I reverted back to cursive. The strain on my hand was much less! I didn't have to pick up my pen after every letter. Instead of smearing my print letters together, I glided effortlessly along the loops of the cursive letters. I found myself pressing more lightly on the paper. And when I went to type up my work, by golly, I could actually read it! It was easier and faster to write, and I've written almost everything (except for short phrases and labels) in cursive since.

So maybe it's a little sentimental that I chafe at this twist towards the cold, precise "keyboarding" and away from my easy-going, flowy, tactile cursive.

Another thing: it's not cursive itself that I feel is so essential. Its the act of sitting down to a task that requires patience and attention to detail that I think is important. I realize that's hard for kids. Life is hard. Learning to do hard things is a part of life.

Also, I think "keyboarding," which I call typing, is something a person is going to learn anyway--like how to use an idiom or time a joke.  I didn't learn to type in a class. I learned to type in an IM. I DID learn to write in cursive in a class, and I write in cursive 99% of the time now. It's more legible, faster, more even, and prettier than my print.

I both write and type a lot. I think that both forms of communication are important. But hitting a keystroke to make a letter doesn't require the same amount of attention. It's easier. Teaching a kid to type doesn't add any value. They'll learn to type any way. All you need to do is teach them where to position their fingers, and they will learn by IMing friends, typing into search bars, typing out papers, updating Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, as a general observation about handwriting and typing, however a person chooses to communicate: Do everyone a favor and spend an extra millisecond in your busy, ultra-important, super cool life to make sure your handwriting is legible, your words are written out, and you are using punctuation to your advantage. no 1 wants 2 rd wat u say when u right lyke this cuz iz hard 2 rd n stuff esp wen u dont use punctuation   And no one wants to decode your handwriting.  So have a care.

And maybe if we did spend a little more time on slowing down and paying attention to detail in lower grades, the general public would have a better time expressing themselves.

1 comment:

  1. That's tough. I understand your position. But, I can see the value in teaching kids keyboarding skills. I use my keyboard way more than I use cursive! :) Thanks for the follow on twitter!