During the media hype over a certain person’s political trial, one of the young witnesses on the stand was queried as to whether or not she had actually written a certain note. A sticking point in the trial became that she couldn’t have written it, since she couldn’t even read it. Turns out the young lady in question could not read cursive.
Now, many people brought this up as evidence of her lack of education. I cannot speak as to her education or lack thereof, not knowing her or her history personally. But my own teen son – despite several efforts on the part of his quite decent schools and myself – ALSO cannot read or write in cursive. “They tried teaching me for three years,” he says. Now this is a person who will have in-depth conversations with you about evolution, international politics, and the latest hacker scandals; but he can’t write or read in cursive. And why should he?
When is the last time you hand wrote a letter to someone? When is the last time you wrote anything down at all, even your grocery list? Do kids even pass notes in class anymore? They text each other on their phones, as far as I can tell. On the rare occasions people do write things down, they do so in print-like text more often than not, mimicking the words they see all around them.
Now, I have read a great many articles on this “problem” which is caused by modern technology, mostly mourning the loss of the “art” of cursive. But given that few people mastered that art and more had what they self-deprecatingly referred to as “chicken scratch” which was easily misinterpreted; this seems more a case of typical human resistance to change and new technology. Do we mourn the loss of the ability to read Old English? No – this is no longer our language. Cursive handwriting is a part of our language that is fading as well, and practicing pretty script will become the hipster art of the next generation – something adorably retro, yet almost useless.