Do you remember cursive? No cheating, take out a pen and scribble down the alphabet.

Can you do that?

I sure can’t.

In high school, during a break in class, I asked several people if they knew the cursive alphabet. This was after a test that asked you to copy a brief statement in cursive and then sign it before you started. We sat staring at a piece of paper, passing around a pen, and muttering to ourselves as we strained our minds.

“That doesn’t look right. I think it goes like this.”

“No, that’s a 2. It looks like this.”

“I think you’re both wrong…”

People around my age don’t know how to write cursive. We just don’t. In college, a group of pretty intelligent adults managed with some effort to get the lowercase letters and most of the uppercase. That dang ‘Q’ and ‘Z’ gave us problems.

Do you remember these uppercase mutants?

We were taught cursive at some point in school. In theory, that means we learned it. But we didn’t have to use it. No one wanted to read our print writing if they didn’t have to. Our cursive? Even more neglected.

And any skill you don’t use, as you know… you lose.

We started on computers in elementary school. I can recall typing under a laminated paper shield to teach us touch typing. We played educational games, like one involving monsters, math problems, and some kind of frog that ate correct answers. We lost oxen, drowned, and died of typhoid on Oregon Trail.

(Ah, good ol’ Oregon Trail. So very many ways to die…)

The further along we went in our education, the less papers were hand-written. Having read several classes of college freshmen’s handwriting, it’s probably for the best. Or perhaps the constant use of computers is why their handwriting is so bad…

I had to look the alphabet up, and I ignored those mutant Qs and Zs. They’re just… wrong.

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About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

4 responses »

  1. I have the opposite experience… I started doing calligraphy when I was ten years old, so cursive holds no terrors for me. On the other hand, learning different hands means that I now don’t actually have a handwriting style. It changes completely depending on what pen I’m using, what I’m writing, and even how I’m feeling. Sometimes I envy the people whose handwriting stays put; it’s part of them, a statement of personality. Does my lack of a personal handwriting style indicate that I have no personality? If I ever met a graphologist I think I’d run away – some things it’s better not to know.

    Your school typing lessons sound much more fun than mine, though – just the teacher droning a series of disconnected letters that we had to type without looking at our hands. Boring and s-l-o-o-w. Dying on the Oregon Trail would have been a welcome relief…

    • caitlinstern says:

      Ooh, can you do pretty script? I’m jealous.
      I’m not sure anyone’s handwriting is consistent, really. I’ve seen people’s letters change depending on the adjoining letters, or if they’re at the end of a word.

  2. Yeah, I can do pretty! Don’t have much time any more, but I haven’t forgotten how. When I get round to it, I’ll put up a picture or two of my stuff. And you’ve given me an idea for some blog posts, too… I think I’ll go and do something about it.

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