When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters. …
Scholars who study original documents say the demise of handwriting will diminish the power and accuracy of future historical research.”

— from The Handwriting Is on the Wall

I’ve been complaining about the decline in my own penmanship for years now. I used to take pride in how beautiful, in particular, my lowercase e and t looked. And don’t get me started on my q. It was lovely. Truly a sight to behold. Now I am ashamed to see my own handwriting. Unless I’m sending a check — and that’s rare these days, too — I just don’t ever need to use a pen or pencil. Blast this damn keyboard!

There are 7 comments on this post

  1. I hear you, David. One of my clients was telling me about her daughter and friends who were bemoaning the fact they’d bombed one section of the test—the handwritten essay. According to them, it wasn’t fair since they were required to actually WRITE, and none of them “knew how to do that.”

    Sad. Scary. And not just a little bit pitiful.

    Cursive is one thing, but writing at all??? Yikes.

  2. Oh yeah…..forgot to include the fact they attend one of the two most “elite” private high schools in the city.

    Like I said—pitiful.

  3. It has been awhile since I’ve written in cursive, but only because I’ve wanted to ensure that my writing was legible. I’ve actually encountered clients where written communication was unsuccessful. Their attempts at writing notes with block letters simply failed.

    It is unfortunate that today’s kids are unable to write. Because of their reliance on word processing software and keyboards, they do not possess the necessary level of manual dexterity for writing cleanly. Their ability to spell and structure coherent sentences is also lacking.

    Doesn’t anyone brainstorm, outline, and proofread anymore? These are just some tools that have worked well for me on timed, in-class essays.

  4. I realized that I should have used “whose” instead “where” after reading my post.

    Pitiful is the state that written culture finds itself.

  5. I keep bemoaning the fact that my “writing muscles” have atrophied, every time I have to manually fill out a lot of paperwork or write extensively I have horrid hand cramping after the first three paragraphs.

    Typing is more the culprit of this phenomenon than the block letter bug, but either one kills my hands now….

    Sigh. When *I* was in high school this didn’t happen, I’d write and write. 🙁 But working in IT doesn’t really make you have to write with pens and pencils much.

  6. Send your kids to a Montessori school. The kids learn cursive writing before block letters. The teachers say it is easier for the kids to learn their letters that way. My child was writing in cursive at age 5 (sure it wasn’t pretty, but it was cursive).

  7. yah. i gave up cursive in 6th grade – can’t even do it any more. i used to study caligraphy, wrote long letters with pen and ink (where you dip the nib in india ink!). now, if i have to handwrite anything, it feels clunky, painful. i transpose letters, skip letters, make badly formed characters, mix up the letter styles in the same word. there’s no backspace when you use a pen. even with keyboarding, i gave up using the shift key to save strokes. tragic. but oh so modern. it’s only a problem when you cannot communicate. we have to many other things to worry about these days. like badly engineered voice mail systems…

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