'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
CURSIVE WRITING A LOST ART
A recent newspaper article explained that handwriting has become a lost art. Many elementary schools don’t even teach cursive writing to their students anymore because we live in a computerized, keyboard world. The kids now type their schoolwork on a computer, print out the results, and hand it in to the teacher.
There is not enough time in the school day to teach handwriting because of all the computer-related lessons which must be taught, including: how to type; how to install the cable connecting the computer to the printer; how to change the ink cartridges in the printer without smudging ink stains all over the place; how to figure out which of the 74,000 different kinds of ink cartridges available at the office supply store is the correct one for your printer (answer: none of them, because although you purchased the printer only six months ago, it is now a discontinued model); and the most important lesson of all, how to earn a six-figure income while in the second grade to pay for replacement ink cartridges, which are occasionally more expensive than the printer itself, and always more expensive than my first car.
Some educators think it’s a good thing to eliminate cursive handwriting lessons because, after all, effective communication is the ultimate goal, and why bother with a time-consuming archaic method of communicating when high-tech, high-speed methods are now available. (And if you’ve ever stumbled across a youth-oriented Internet chat room, you know these kids have excellent communication skills—although I’m not quite sure whether they are using the English language or some dialect which originated in a different solar system, one requiring every other word to be “dude.”)
Other educators, the “traditionalists,” are outraged over the demise of cursive. They consider longhand writing the “cornerstone of American education” and “an art in itself.” To these traditionalists, I have only one thing to say: Oh please! Give me a break! (If I wrote this out in cursive, the traditionalists would think I was trying to tell them: “Ophelia! Goose mema brick!”)
Cursive may be “an art in itself,” but like most modern art it causes people to scratch their heads and mutter, “What in the world is that suppose to mean?” When it comes to paint splotches on a canvas in a snooty museum, I don’t really care if the artist’s message is not communicated. But when it comes to something a bit more serious, such as whether a pharmacist can decipher which of 74,000 possible drugs the doctor is prescribing, I want the message communicated clearly. (“I’m not quite sure, Mrs. McGillicuddy, but I think the doctor wants you to take an Epson X-52 black ink cartridge three times a day.”)
Teaching cursive to young students is not only archaic, it’s a waste of time. No one ever really learns it. I work in an office with 15 other people, and every single one of us was trained in the art of cursive writing as a child. And every single one of us absolutely cannot communicate clearly when we have to write a message by hand. Going through all those rote writing drills in elementary school did us no good at all.
We sell approximately 74,000 different heating and cooling items, and when someone takes an order over the phone and then passes it along to be entered into the computer, it never goes smoothly. (“Tom, could you come into my office, please? I’m having trouble reading your order. We don’t even sell black ink cartridges.”)
I never have that problem. Since I’m left-handed, I will be fired immediately from my job if I even try to write something in cursive. I always type out everything on my computer, even minor things like, “Matt, your wife called.” (A couple years ago I wrote that exact message by hand, and Matt thought I said, “Mate your whiffle ball.”)
In conclusion, if anyone still thinks cursive is a skill worth teaching our kids, all I can say is: Ophelia! Goose mema brick!
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