Get off my lawn!

This is where I’m gonna sound old and out of touch. Kids today, they don’t know the value of cursive!
Now granted I’m not that old, but I did grow up in France which has (had?) different views on cursive. Growing up, I was made to learn cursive and use it. In fact, French kids of my generation and before were not allowed to write with anything other than a fountain pen until high school, and paper for school was designed specifically to help with learning cursive. No block letters, no comic sans, nothing other than cursive was allowed, and I didn’t type up a paper until college. Again I’d like to note I’m not that old.
This is how you're taught to write in France. For the record: I still cross my sevens.
This is how you’re taught to write in France. For the record: I still cross my sevens.
I’m now extremely thankful this, including spilled ink and hand cramps re-copying my work: turns out fountain pens really help in writing cursive, and the Séyès paper used in French schools is designed specifically to help students learn to shape letters correctly.
For many, writing cursive is probably not a super-useful skill. But for anyone in preservation or related fields? Yeah, it’s more than useful, it’s crucial. Good luck dating an old building without being able to decipher cursive. Deed books are gonna be truly painful if you can’t read them.
Yes, this is in French. But if you didn't know cursive, you may not even notice!
Yes, this switches to French halfway down. But if you didn’t know cursive, you may not even notice!
There’s only one way to get better at reading cursive, and that’s practicing both reading and writing it. I’m now very thankful that every assignment I handed in as a kid had to be recopied from the rough draft to a clean copy. It felt like useless busywork at the time. It feels like a gift now.
To keep my skills up, I practice what I preach, too: every year I make myself write exclusively in cursive for one month. And I try to read cursive text on a regular basis.
My (pathetic) efforts at maintaining cursive. Still: points for effort!
My (pathetic) efforts at maintaining cursive. Still: points for effort!
Learning cursive was a (literal) pain, but now I’m very thankful for the old-timey education I received. I can only hope that some students will take the initiative too. (Hint: try with a fountain pen on high quality paper. It will at least be easier that way.) Far from an obsolete skill, it will make them hard to replace in any job that involves old documents. Plus then they will save money with formal event invites, and their thank you cards will look really fancy.

One thought on “Get off my lawn!

  1. I was just talking with a colleague about handwriting today. On the way back from lunch, I remarked that mine is terrible, so I don’t use it often, which means my handwriting gets worse … it’s a self-perpetuating cycle that’s hard to break, especially since so much of what I do requires computer work.

    Even so, on the infrequent occasions that I do use paper and a writing utensil, there are vestiges of cursive in my handwriting. Or perhaps that’s just me running my letters together. But I always cross my 7s and Zs!

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