savinghistory

Cursive Writing Goes the Way of Latin

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2012 at 8:52 AM

The Los Angeles Times recently published an article about the dying art of cursive writing. Based on the article, most states in the country have already eliminated cursive or script writing from the compulsory standards and replaced it with keyboard proficiency. Of course few can argue the importance of keyboard skills. Today both standard typing and texting methods are used daily by most and in a time starved society getting better or faster at both is beneficial and yet despite the obvious benefits I find myself saddened and concerned for our future, or more specifically our ability to understand our past. As a trained research historian I have spent countless hours digging through archive materials. My work often requires reading letters, journals, and official documents to garner information and a large portion of that material is handwritten and usually cursive. While reading very old documents is challenging because of cursive styles of penmanship, I am at least “fluent in the language”.
I do not doubt that today’s records, and this includes personal correspondence, have transitioned to born digital format but there are countless records created during the twentieth century and even into the early twenty-first century that are handwritten and cursive. If today’s students (K-12) are not learning cursive skills, how will the future historians among them be able to read the documents my generation created? How will they read the firsthand accounts or letters created by those witnesses to history? Are we sequestering volumes of primary source material to the untouched corners of the archive? When we eliminate this skill we create a limiting boundary to knowledge and understanding. Latin seems to have suffered a similar fate. Once being the lingua franca it is now an all but dead language and yet historians encounter it daily. Lacking proficiency, most of us struggle trying to translate and understand the ancient past. Of course I am not proposing we resurrect Latin; I simply suggest we learn from our past and reconsider eliminating a skill set from our children’s repertoire. In fact, maybe we should keep it in the curriculum for a few more generations!
Remember, you should be Saving History because your story is priceless.

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