If it were up to the editorial team at Bloomberg, cursive, the loopy, fancy handwriting that no one actually uses anymore, would be taken down to the riverbed, shot, and killed with fire. For some reason we thought that already happened. Not so, it seems.
"Most American adults were taught that print writing was a step to cursive, the mark of true literacy. So it’s fair to ask: Will students deprived of this skill be lacking something essential?," Bloomberg View asks, and then offers up this pithy answer:
In a word: no.
The editorial goes on to point out that cursive is pointless because it doesn't really make kids more literate, help kids read cursive-written older documents like, say, the Declaration of Independence, or bestow any substantial intellectual benefits. They also bring up this really good point regarding the notion that high school students using cursive on their SAT tests score better:
Noting that students who wrote their SAT essays in cursive score slightly higher than those who printed them, proponents of cursive instruction conclude that the cursive writers wrote more quickly and efficiently and could thus focus better on the substance of their writing. Perhaps. In this digital age, however, the better question is why anyone is still writing SAT essays out longhand.
Bloomberg's editors are, more or less, preaching to the choir. Cursive is no longer mandatory in many states and has been excluded from of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. And after all, no one needs a working knowledge of cursive to read that article, or any part of the Internet.
The question we're left with is this: if this fancy way of writing is dead, why even dig it up and talk about it? And, further, is there some kind of Streisand effect? That is, does talking about how a thing that has largely been forgotten needs to die only make that very thing harder to forget?
Cursive has actually been dying a protracted death for the last few years. A debate waged on the digital pages of The New Yorker last July, in The New York Times in 2011 and also in Slate, among other Internet locales. And yet we are still talking about cursive's demise. Maybe we like to have it around, after all.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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