Cursive/Script/Whatever they call it these days

I was speaking with a college professor this morning waiting for the Jeopardy thing this morning, and a recent story on Slashdot reminded me of the conversation and something I have been thinking alot about lately.

Why the fuck are elementary schools still teaching “Cursive” or “Script” or whatever that style of penmanship is called these days? I think the year or two of class devoted to this remnant of the past would be much, much better placed towards teaching kids to type. Call it a personal failure, but I couldn’t write a single word in cursive today at 26 years of age? Why, you may ask? Because that skill hasn’t been called on since like 6th grade, all my teachers preferred typed coursework. In fact, this skill, that my elementary curricula devoted so much time to, has never been called upon outside of the academic environment.

This woman that I spoke with this morning told me that her little boy got a 100% on a spelling/vocabulary quiz the other day, but the teacher deducted 5% off the grade due to poor penmanship. What do we currently do? We teach children a form of penmanship for the first few years of their education, then we teach them another one out of tradition. Where is typing class? Generally a middle-school ELECTIVE! I vote for making cursive an elective and teach the kids a useful skill earlier on: Typing. Even a hard-core computer geek such as myself didn’t learn to touch-type until 5th or 6th grade (on an electric typewriter, no less). To me this is a major failure of the American educational system’s ability to adapt to changing times.

Update: Apparently I forgot the structure of the school system, yes it has been so long. I didn’t learn to touch type until High School, which would have been 9th or 10th grade. I’m a dumbass.

10 thoughts on “Cursive/Script/Whatever they call it these days

  1. agreed

    I couldn’t agree more with that issue, Sean…As a future teacher myself, I have learned day in and day out how important it is familiarize all students with computers these days because of the excessive demands of society and the growing demands of the work place…yet, computer skills are often saved for “special occasions”, used as rewards for when teacher don’t know what else to do with kids, or are brushed aside……All in all, good point, and i would have told that lady to go screw for taking points off of that poor kids test…not many people can help it if their hand writing is shitty.

  2. My high school required typing, which most people took during their senior year, but it was graded only on speed and accuracy, and not on technique. Which basically meant that nobody really learned to type correctly because the letters were still on the keys and most of the people came into the class with the ability to type fast enough incorrectly to pass the course anyway. In my case, had I been tought to touch-type in about 4th grade I might actually have the ability to do it correctly now instead of the hybrid touch-type without all of my fingers that I currently use. I also don’t remember any of the cursive that was drilled into my head through fifth grade.

  3. My school didn’t have any typing whatsoever, though computers were used pretty frequently. I only picked up touch typing some time in the past year or two, and I still need to look down every so often. I will admit, though, that my code production is only very rarely limited by my typing speed.

    But, yeah, cursive, what the hell? They could probably get away with a one-quarter “designing your signature” class, since that’s the only place you see cursive anymore. ‘Course, mine’s not even cursive anyway.

  4. I am with you Sean. Each time I sit at the computer I am pissed off that I was not required to take a keyboarding class before 12th grade. Kids learn things like this much better the younger they are (hence the rational for starting foriegn language courses earlier and earlier), so why not teach them something useful instead of stupid cursive. Grrrrrr

  5. The Sole Voice of Dissension

    One of the reasons they teach cursive is b/c it’s faster to write things down. You certainly can’t eliminate it from the curriculum b/c sometimes you DO have to write things down, and they have to be LEGIBLE. I proffer myself as an example of someone who could have used a little more practice. I once turned in an essay history exam in high school and the teacher had to ask me what one of the words was. It was “of.” Plus, I think a handwritten letter is a lost art form.

    I do agree that typing could be offered much sooner, but it really only takes one semester to learn. Schools probably figure that if they offer it too early and a kid doesn’t have enough opportunity to use it, they’ll forget, which makes sense. In my experience, nobody started typing papers until 6th grade or later.

  6. My mom is a 4th grade teacher, and I have her very legible handwriting skills. As a lovely result of this, I’m always the one taking notes at meetings. Which sucks, but not as much as getting someone else’s notes, that I have no idea what they say. I guess I agree with the fact that cursive isn’t important. But, I do think that penmanship should be generally better.

  7. cursive

    People still need to use cursive for signatures. Beyond learning to write your own name though, yeh it’s not all that useful.

    There are some standardized tests that require you to write out a long declaration saying you won’t cheat in cursive. They use it to get a handwriting sample I guess. I had to do that on the LSATs and it literally took me a half hour to write out a paragraph. It took a lot of thinking to remember some of the cursive letters, and I gave up on recalling the lowercase “f”, inserting a random scribble instead. I didn’t want to hold up everyone else in the room once I figured out that they all were able to write that in a minute (pressumably they still remembered cursive), so I pretended I was done writing it then came back to finish more of it while I was supposed to be filling out other things.

    Learning typing would be cool. But barring that they should at least teach kids a useful skill, such as forging other people’s signatures.

  8. Script/Cursive Handwriting

    Still being a student myself (Junior currently), I have also noticed that not since the 5th grade has cursive even been needed and was a complete was of time. Not to mention, it completely obliterated my print which was legible to begin with (trained myself again just in the 9th grade to write print proficiently). Typing has been a skill needed continually since 6th grade, but never once was it a required class for me even to this day: it’s all electives!

    Completely agree that typing should be taught earlier and make script an elective. Of course, there is the signature exception (which I actually have not been required to nor do use), but beyond that it really is a skill we don’t utilize or require in this age. Nyah… [/ranting]

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