Cursive Curse

Lets face it, cursive handwriting is fading out fast in our black computer keyboard filled world. I remember in elementary school learning how to first write block letters and then eventually cursive. A good amount of class time was spent just practicing how to properly draw each letter cursively. In fact, each day was devoted to learning a single letter! I can’t imagine schools doing this now with students bringing their mobile laptops, PDAs, and SMS enabled cell phones to class.

Its so much faster and easier to type everything on keyboard that when I do have to write cursive those few times, it is embarrassingly bad. It takes more effort in that I have to really concentrate on forming each letter, line, and curly Qs. The finished product is something that hardly resembles what I intended to start with: a pseudo print and cursive mix that doesn’t look relaxed or naturally written. The appearance at times looking faked and childish resulting from years of cursive neglect. The worst part is the distraction to the reader from the written content due to the illegibility of some words. It is precisely the reason why I loathe writing essays and papers by hand.

However, I think we have really lost the subtle meaning behind writing in cursive and what it can offer the reader. Receiving a birthday card with a hand written message is much more appealing and substantial to one’s heart than an email message or typed out note. Nothing can emphasize more the importance and time it took for someone to sit down and thoughtfully write letters and words with a pen in hand. No backspace or delete keys here. Any messy mistakes are shown in its entirety no matter how well you try to cross it out in black or blue ink. There is an element of finality in ones writing that goes beyond what a word processor can edit out.

For now, I stick to the keyboard as method of choice for thought transfer to the digital screen. Everything else is regulated to my broken cursive writing that maybe one day will see a resurgence.

Ok, probably not.. but at least I still have cursive fonts to use in MS Word!


12 Responses

  1. I hear you, Omar. Although I am from the old, old school my handwiting was never legible by the time I started college English. And, it has progressed (or deteriorated) so far that it will give any doctor’s hand-written prescription keen competition. I agree, a personalized note would be very impersonal without the human hand. The problem, it seems, is letter recognition. Sloppy writing discourages the reader to pursue any further, and s/he finds solace and comfort in a well-formed machine-print. However, word-processed individual writing is just that, a machine-generated conglomeration of words, regardless of the thought or idea behind it.

    You are more optimistic than me in hoping for a cursive resurgence. Far too many individuals tend to rely on block printing their alphabets and need faster machines to generate more words in the least amount of time possible. Thought-writing, a process where a machine transcribes words fed by brain waves, may be looming in the far horizon. And, when that happens, we may have to rely on “scribes” to do our “hand writing” as it was done in ancient civilizations, centuries ago.

  2. That would be a scary time when we have to use ‘scribes’ to do our handwriting for us. I can just imagine a whole new market emerging from this!

  3. The woes and failures of handwriting instruction come, in *very* large part from teachers damnation-bent on equating “good handwriting” with “doing it in cursive” … when actually, according to a 1998 study in the JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH (citation below) the fastest and most legible handwriters break about half the rules of cursive.
    It turns out that the fastest handwriters (and especially the fastest LEGIBLE handwriters) /a/ join only some letters, not all of them — using only the easiest joins, skipping the rest — and /b/ use some cursive and
    some printed letter-shapes (where printed and cursive letters seriously “disagree” in shape, highest-speed highest-legibility handwriters tend to go for the printed shape).

    Graham, S., Berninger, V., & Weintraub, N. (1998). The relationship between handwriting style and speed and quality. Journal of Educational Research, volume 91, issue number 5, (May/June 1998), pages 290-297.

    In other words — cursive writing comes in, at best, second-best. For more information on the curse of cursive (and how to “un-curse” yourself), visit the Handwriting Repair [tm] web-site at or

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