No, we don't still need to teach children how to write in cursive.
I really enjoyed reading this. I, too, learned to write on a typewriter and find it difficult to break the habit of putting two spaces between sentences. (See?) However, until reading this I couldn't remember why!
“The inability to read handwriting deprives society of direct access to its own past" ". . . you are wrong”
Actually, Faust is right about this. There's a difference between being able to WRITE in cursive, and being able to READ it. Historians study paleography for a reason.
I enjoyed reading today's column. I learned cursive writing as I attended Catholic grade schools and the nuns LOVED cursive, although my handwriting did not measure up to their standards. Oh well. I also learned how to diagram sentences and can still, to this day, recite all of the prepositions by heart. And I also said the abc's backwards before I learned to say them forwards because my grandfather used to say them backwards as a joke. I picked that up! As far as typing is concerned, I still allow for two spaces at the end of each sentence, as you no doubt can tell. And I won't give that up!
I always reading you, but today has me laughing out loud. You are spot on! Please be cranky more often.
I'm surprised nobody has defended cursive on the grounds of its learning benefits. I'll quote the N Y Times: "Putting pen to paper stimulates the brain like nothing else, even in this age of e-mails, texts and tweets. In fact, learning to write in cursive is shown to improve brain development in the areas of thinking, language and working memory. Cursive handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres, something absent from printing and typing." Giving a Google search to "benefits of learning cursive" has loads of similar authoritative articles.
It was a faculty meeting. The fourth grade teachers were complaining about how hard it was to get students proficient in cursive. As a group, they asked us fifth grade teachers if we required students to take spelling tests using cursive. We fifth grade teachers looked at each other astonishment. As a group, we didn't require cursive in anything. As long as we could understand the students' writing we were fine with their method. The fourth grade teachers were astonished in turn. And then began the discussion of how many hours they spent on cursive in the fourth grade curriculum. (Don't even ask about the time spent in fourth grade memorizing state capitals.)
John, on another note, I had not seen the cover of your writing book, and all I can say is OMGWTFBBQ. It's gorgeous.
This essay brought back memories for me. My 5th grade teacher wrote on my report card, "Michelle is so smart, it's a shame she doesn't have legible penmanship." Thank goodness my ability to write legibly has become less important in the last 30+ years! And my handwriting has only gotten worse now that I hardly ever use it.
That's funny about the two spaces after sentences--I totally still do that, thanks to the rules taught in my high school keyboarding class.
My children always brought their grandmother's notes to them, written in cursive, for me to read because they could not. Sad but true. My Dad, an engineer, never wrote cursive but his block printing was perfect. The two spaces after a period created a disagreement between myself and a younger colleague but I bailed on that, it is quicker. Your history on the reason is neat to know. To your point about drafts on the phone, my Luddite son, with his flip phone, can out type anyone on that keyboard to send a text. It is a thing of joy to behold!
For those with learning issues of any type, the technology of today, beginning with Dragon Speak, and text to voice, et al, are amazing tools for all to learn and produce. Auto-correct can have its challenges but the use of spell check and grammar check made me feel lazy as I was once proud of my spelling skills. However, those tools make my actual writing freer to create when I don't have to worry and allow me to focus fully on the process.