Friday, October 27, 2017

Why does cursive vs. typing have to be seen as an all-or-nothing proposition?

I have teenaged nephews and nieces (high school senior and freshman, respectively) who are, by a certain standard, functionally illiterate.
Alien alphabet? Or poor penmanship?

As in whenever they’re confronted by something written in cursive, they complain it is unreadable to them. They’ll throw back such notes and insist they be read aloud to them – while also berating the people who bothered to write something out by hand.

I HAVE HEARD from my niece Meira and my nephew Tyler that nobody ever bothered to teach them to write things out long-hand, meaning that when they do write something, it is in printing that – quite frankly – isn’t all that neat or legible.

The experience I had by which the first grade was learning to print the alphabet and the second grade was for learning to write out long-hand in cursive? It seems to be long-gone from our educational programs – and a haughty attitude has developed in our society against teaching people how to comprehend anything.

The so-called logic is that people just don’t write anything anymore. The era of scrawling out notes is over. Everything is typed. Students are supposedly getting high-tech educations that incorporate devices that require them to use keyboards.

It reminds me of that scene from the Star Trek film “The Voyage Home,” when the Enterprise crew travels back in time from the 23rd Century to our modern-day San Francisco. Actor James Doohan’s “Mr. Scott” character tries speaking to a computer, only to have its keyboard pointed out to him.

“HOW QUAINT,” HE quipped, at the very concept of typing.
Typing 'quaint?' Saving the future through cursive?

Which seems to be the attitude we have encouraged amongst our young when it comes to the idea of writing something out. Even when they try writing by hand, it often is on some sort of electronic screen that stores their notes – without them ever actually being scrawled on paper.

A concept I (as a reporter-type person always keep paper notebooks and pens on hand) certainly don’t see as an improvement, by any means.

Now I’m sure some people are dismissing this commentary as the rants of an old crank – just as they think my lack of interest in this year’s World Series between two National League-feel teams (I’m a hard-core American League sympathizer) is proof that I’m living in the past.

IT’S JUST THAT I really don’t comprehend why people are incapable of writing by cursive – and learning the proper way to use a “QWERTY”-style keyboard. I know in the case of my nephew and niece, they plod along with the hunt-and-peck of a couple of fingers.

That may be usable when typing out a text message on a cellphone, but means that even when typing, they’re barely functional. Apparently, they’re not taking the equivalent of the one-year course I had in high school on typing – and the proper use of the keyboard.

It also produces a lack of feeling for the language. Have you ever checked out the spelling (or lack of) that many of these young people have? Which many of them also feel is something the rest of us need to get over!

All in all, it’s a part of the dumbing down of our society. And yes, I write that knowing my teenage niece is a potential honor student who can’t spell for squat. I know because I often have tried to help by typing for her the papers she wrote out long-hand for school.

I BRING THIS issue up because the Illinois House of Representatives this week acted on a bill that would require all schools across the state to teach cursive writing.
Up to Ill. to set state education policy

Gov. Bruce Rauner used his “veto” power to reject the bill the General Assembly approved earlier this year, so the Illinois House voted to override him. The state Senate is likely to follow suit when the Legislature reconvenes next month to complete the veto session.

I’m sure that some will claim our state’s Democratic-controlled Legislature is playing petty partisan politics against our Republican governor.

But if it means that future generations of young people don’t come off as confused by cursive as my niece and nephew’s generation (it may be too late for them), then that would be a plus for our society.


No comments: