||[2011-07-20 (Wednesday) at 20:02:00]
"The handwriting of students who used a mixed style was faster than the handwriting of students who used either manuscript of cursive exclusively. In addition, papers written in mixed... generally received higher ratings for legibility."
~ The Relationship Between Handwriting Style and Speed and Legibility, by Naomi Weintraub, Steve Graham, and Virginia W. Berninger.
My experience being taught cursive in elementary school was incredibly frustrating: teachers continued to insist that cursive was faster even after my stopwatch proved them wrong; cursive caused cognitive dissonance by using more ink than manuscript in an era when we were being taught to reduce use of everything; once we were required to use cursive exclusively we lost the ability to read our classmates' contributions to group projects, because no one can ever read another person's cursive quite properly. I'm not even going to get into how Kafkaesquely insane it was to force students to use a form of handwriting that only the writer could ever completely understand.
I was luckier than most. Even after the age at which students were expected to use cursive exclusively for handwritten papers, my elementary school permitted me to submit typed ones (which was, as I call it, a tactical error). I was ecstatic to find that my parents' old typewriter still worked, and started merrily clacking away at anything that was longer than a paragraph. Most of my classmates were not so lucky, and I still feel bad for them that they had to suffer through cramped hands and long hours spent doing papers by hand.
Consequently, I'm gratified to see that a proper study has proven that it is in fact faster to print. I mean, I knew, but it's not as if I was ever in a position to collect the statistical data that would prove it. Now that it has been proved, I'm doing a happy dance in between each word over here.
That said, it's far more satisfying to me to see that cursive is finally starting to lose formal recognition.
Personally, I'm not going to miss cursive. Some people are going to have a conniption fit at my saying that, but they're going to have to deal with it.
It's not that I don't appreciate handwritten material — I still write poetry in manuscript. It's that my experience of being expected to use cursive exclusively for handwriting, when I knew it was slower and less legible than the alternative, caused me to dislike it. That experience resulted in relief at the opportunity to use an old typewriter, and the two together caused me to prefer typed words over ones written in cursive. I still hold that preference to this day.
And, really, we've come into an era in which paper and pens have been replaced by keyboards and monitors. The small notepads that some people would carry in case they needed to write something down were the last holdouts, and smartphones have replaced even them. Sure, leather-bound notepads look classier, but memos typed into my smartphone don't get dog-eared or smudged. Also, you don't need an external light source to read smartphone memos in the dark, and that's kind of important sometimes.
Now that cursive has gone from being less practical to being obsolete, I look forward to seeing it finally be thrown out.