Sunday, December 11, 2011

the debate over cursive...

They're still talking about whether or not cursive should still be taught in schools. Many states have already cut out just about all things that require the non-keyboardian use of the hands. With pressures on standardized testing, and trying to squeeze maximum value from our teaching staff, our schools have been dismasted. Politicians and administrators hack away at the rigging and let the ropes trail behind in an angry sea. As a society we are deeply engaged in a transfer of intellect from the mind and hand to our machines. The process makes a huge volume of human knowledge instantly accessible for our amusement, but leaves us unable to contribute anything real or of real value. This article in the Baltimore Sun, Writings on the wall for school cursive courses tells a bit about the ongoing story. Who needs to write with some physical semblance of skill or beauty when you can type or rely on voice recognition software to tell your tale? Who needs to sign documents when you could scan a retina, or spit to have your DNA scanned, analyzed and affixed?

We are in a process of losing fundamental human creative techniques and expressive capacities, just as when the pioneers reached the Rocky Mountains and threw precious heirlooms off the backs of their wagons to ease their climb to the top. Nowadays significant elements of human culture are being tossed off the backs of our wagons for the climb to the top of a digital divide. The hope is that as we arrive at a promised digital land, cursive and all other creative things requiring skilled hands will have no longer have use.

Today I will have an interview with a reporter from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette about furniture making. Will anyone be interested in such a thing? Can't they just live their lives as avatars swirling around among tiny screens? As avatars they can choose digital furnishings at no cost, no real wood or effort or skill required. On the other hand and at the risk of sounding crazy, I suggest we engage our fingers in exploring things that are not flat and have texture other than glass. One landscape is far richer than the other. If you are bothering to read here, I suspect you know which.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous7:10 AM

    This really does need to be debated and not just pushed aside as old fashion. I live in France where kids are taught at 5 years old to write in cursive. By 6 they can all do it... and beautifully. This skill has fine tuned my 6 year old daughters hand muscle control and has given her great appreciation for beauty. She relishes not only in learning to write, but also learning how to write with style. Didn't Steve Jobs drop out of school to learn calligraphy??

  2. Yes, Steve Jobs did study calligraphy in college. He dropped out for other reasons, but his interest in calligraphy and fonts made the mac the artistic leader in computing.

    You've brought up a good point... the beauty of it and if you follow most educators in their thinking, beauty has nothing to do with it.