Sunday, March 30, 2008

Defending Cursive

One mother argues her case for abolishing handwriting as skill to be taught in schools. She says :

As writing technologies evolve, we romanticize the old and adapt to the new. This will happen with keyboards, too—some contemporary novelists have ceased using them already. Richard Powers uses voice-recognition software to compose everything, including his novels. "Except for brief moments of duress, I haven't touched a keyboard for years," he says. "No fingers were tortured in producing these words—or the last half a million words of my published fiction." Powers is wonderfully free of technological nostalgia: "Writing is the act of accepting the huge shortfall between the story in the mind and what hits the page. ...For that, no interface will ever be clean or invisible enough for us to get the passage right," he says to his computer.

Having gone from very beautiful to completely unreadable handwriting within a span of ten years, I often find myself feeling nostalgic about the writing I once had and cannot seem to recover anymore. It has slipped out of reach along with a lot of other things. I realize that the person I was those many years ago bears very little resemblance to who I am today. Since frame of mind and handwriting is supposed to be correlated, I wonder if I made an effort to write the way I once used to if I could also go back in to much easier, uncomplicated way of life.

I don't know about the case for obsolesce the author advances. Extending the same logic, it would be quite okay to stop testing kids of facts they have learned in school if all that and more information can be easily found on the web. Why should they be expected to remember what they can look up as and when needed.


Maybe it is a good thing to romanticize the old ways and not abandon them for the glitter of modernity. Isn't the whole organic food movement centered around returning to what was supplanted by modern technology and industrialization ? If an organic apple is better than a genetically modified one then fine cursive should also be better than voice recognition software as the mode of translating thoughts to words.

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