The Death of Cursive

I sign my “autograph” quite a bit, and I never thought it was anything special, just the letters of my name in cursive rather than a unique little flourish. That is, until today when I sat in on an exam. It was paper, old school with a separate answer sheet we had to fill in the little bubbles like in 7th grade STAR testing. Here they had a statement affirming we must copy, affirming that we not going to cheat or share the testing information. I literally did a double take when I read the words after the directions, DO NOT PRINT.

I’m ashamed to say the first thought that sprung to mind was, “Well what should I do, type? How? ” Then it dawned on me, rather slowly, considering I was supposed to have my thinking cap on. They want it in Cursive. Okay, so no big deal right? I was taught cursive in first grade like everyone else, the same time I was trying to spell “of” “uv” on my spelling tests. I sign my name nearly every day. This should a cinch.

Well, the few lines I had to write were painstaking, like trying to write with my left hand in a foreign language. When had this happened to me? I kept inadvertently remitting to print, then frantically erasing as I imagined the consequences. I guess I could rationalize my ineptitude by saying that every skill, if not exercised, eventually fades. But I always equated writing to something like riding a bike, and took it for granted. I was wrong. Apparently I cannot write cursive hardly at all these days, and even as I neared writing the whole thing (an not quite fitting it into that little space they provided) it didn’t feel any easier. Finishing, I looked back on the statement with some horrible sense of satisfied finality, as if making it through was an achievement. Bear in mind, I hadn’t even started my test yet. And yet, the longer I looked the more my handwriting looked like a child’s, with Alzheimer’s.

Why write in cursive and not print? Is expending that effort going to make you remember the words or think about them harder? Yes. So I would say I have to work on that…but I really don’t think I do. Cursive is sadly (aside from those people who naturally write in beautiful cursive where the rest of us print) on the decline, and for the most part, optional. I wish I could say I have beautiful cursive too, but I don’t, and now I know I never will.

Case in point: My first Google search result for “cursive” yields and Indie rock band. Sorry squiggly letters, the hipsters win.

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