Johnny can’t write. Cursively anyway.

In today’s National Post, Andrew Coyne laments the loss of the teaching of cursive writing in schools:

I learned to type when I was nine. I’ve been writing on a computer for more than 30 years. But I can tell you I would feel something vital had been lost if I could not express my thoughts longhand. Often when I am stuck at the keyboard, unable to find my way out of whatever mental cul-de-sac I have put myself in, I will pick up a pen and start writing — and the words start to come again.

I wrote about this very thing way back in 2004, and I didn’t think it was a good idea then. Now we’re finding that kids can’t sign their own names:

A signature is something that is uniquely ours. It is something we have created, that no one else can replicate (nefarious motives aside) in true likeness. An Internet password is none of those things. By neglecting to teach our children the value of cursive writing, with which they can create their own physical mark, are we setting them up to have their digital identities stolen, with no real, hard-copy ones to back them up?

I never learned to print or write well in school years ago. My dad, a drafting teacher, taught me to print properly. I did learn to sign my name, though it isn’t entirely recognizable, but it is consistent.

As a result of that and taking notes on paper throughout university, my “writing” is more like a flowing printed script. But I get his point. I work on my laptop every day, and I’ve been sitting in front of a computer typing for a living for over 30 years. I can write pretty well on the computer, but there is something about the look and the feel of putting pen to paper. The words seem to flow that much more easily.

Sometimes the tools – like a computer and word processing software – get in the way of the words, and it becomes more about formatting the words than writing them. I always keep plenty of pens and paper around. And I enjoy writing, ink stained fingers and all.

An unlike a computer, there is something freeing about being able to write in the margins, scribble out a word or two, and to be able to follow the path of where your thoughts have been on the way to where there are going.

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