Thursday, August 02, 2018


I am in Denver visiting my wife's family and while I learned that Denver Schools have abandoned cursive, our great niece is studying it at home on her iPad. Is that enough? It would be a shame for American children to neither read nor write cursive. To put one's thoughts cleanly and efficiently on a page of paper is an admirable thing.

In keyboarding you can type mindlessly and then go back and salvage something from what you've written. The same is not the case when you take a pen, dip it in ink and proceed to inform paper of your thoughts. The thoughts must actually come first, meaning that you have chosen in advance what to say, how to say it, and whether or not it is actually worth saying. In keyboarding, its the speed and accuracy that counts, not the meaning or the expression of humanity.

Woodworking philosopher David Pye considered writing with ink on paper to be an expression of craftsmanship of risk, in that you will certainly mess up if you've not practiced, or if you are not giving full attention to the process at hand. This contrasts with craftsmanship of certainty in which machines and devices provide perfect results despite the lack of skill, vision, creative insight of the operator.

Perhaps human beings  in general have become machine operators rather than what we once were. But I can understand why cursive has been abandoned in schools. As adults we rarely use it. Is that a good thing? Or we be more thoughtful if we practiced?

Make, fix, and create...

1 comment:

  1. Just read your post on cursive. Being left handed gives me a different perspective. When 1st taught in 2nd grade, a left handed slant in the book was similar to a backslash so your hand is below the message you are writing. Now this is a problem with teachers because it was hard for them to read with a slant they were use to so we were forced to write with a forward slant which then places your hand above your writing so your hand will then smear the writing as you move your hand along. I did find using block letters helped me from smearing my handwriting. Ask any left handed person!

    I did like what Pyle said about craftsmanship with risk. Anyone who is at the top of their craft probably practices this. A film photographer did this to set up the shot to save film. Now digital photography allows anyone to get lucky and get a great shot. As an artist, then photographer, engineer and finally a woodworker I find I always mitigate risk by starting with a sketch, then a scaled drawing, maybe a prototype, then the final version. As I'm better at those skills i may be able to eliminate steps to approach craftsmanship with risk.

    Can I say that to me, a left handed person who has to have dealt with right handed tools all his life, I have started last year to be pen pals with my granddaughter. Being written cursive is not as important than her writing her thoughts down on paper, giving me a sketch, even crossing out a word from time to time. To me it is about communication, thoughts, connection and if i can pass on knowledge to her that I have learned...awesome! How is not important as that we are doing it!

    Just my two cents...
    Bob Stolarski