Public elementary schools appear to be eliminating the teaching of cursive writing. Early introduction to block letters today apparently only readies youngsters to recognize letters on a keyboard and begin typing ASAP, thumbing in texts and tweets on screens, rather than serving as a precursor to learning cursive writing as a primary means of documentation and communication — learning to commit to thoughts and words in their own handwriting, on a piece of patient paper that endures. Is this screen activity “thinking” in the same way that writing an essay, committing one’s unique ideas in a structured form, is thinking?
In abandoning cursive as a communication medium, we further consign thousands of years of handwritten archive to obscurity and irrelevance. At the same time, we also create a “secret code” for Golden Agers in nursing homes to communicate among themselves in, while their younger caregivers, oblivious to cursive communications, busily type into internetworked medical records programs.
At risk perhaps with the loss of ability to read and write cursive, is the capability for humans to engage in long-form thought. That is, conceiving of an idea or a story, perhaps discussing with one’s peers, putting it into words in a structured format to communicate to others, and then advancing civilization through the publication of books containing some of these curated and refined long thoughts. Littera Scripta Manet: “the written word endures.” The “written word” as in printed books, or “Libri,” the root of the word “library”– a root which includes nothing about screens, internet hook-ups, recorded books, Power Point bullet points, videos, games, or coffee machines. By not teaching our children cursive, we further encourage the migration away from forming and committing to permanent abstract thought and communication of same through the use of words. Bring on the emoticons, the videos, the SnapChats and databases. In all the brightness, newness, immediacy and flash of “e,” we must remember that twilight comes on slowly, incrementally, and losing cursive as a communications medium adds a new line to the brow of the thinker contemplating today’s sunset.