Friday, December 12, 2014

Writing on Whatever Scale

The Hands No Longer Have It

Keyboards have replaced the human hand and the consequences reach in to the strangest places.

I substitute teach fairly often at a high tech academy high school. The students there are very intelligent and scientifically oriented. I have a great day every time I go in mostly because the kids are so great to work with.

And yet, as well educated as they are, their reliance on technology has some curious consequences. The most alarming one to me is their inability to use or read cursive writing. Now, this is not all the students in the school, but more than once, I have handwritten a set of directions on the board only to have a student raise a hand to say, "Can you print that. I can't read cursive."

Apparently the trend in modern education at the elementary level is to drop cursive handwriting from the curriculum.  Students type essays on their laptops, text message their teachers, email in their assignments and, when faced with paper and pen, they print.

Now deciphering student handwriting has always been a challenge and I often spent extra hours trying to figure out what my students wrote on their papers when their penmanship was not exactly up to standard. But at least they could write in script.

And, they could read it.

Not so today. More and more students are hand printing everything. Of course, it's easier to read, and I must admit they can travel pretty quickly across the page, but the soft fluid flow of cursive is gone, soon to be a lost art.

I still have pages and pages of drafts for my novels and stories written in script on memo pads. That was the only way I could write.  My typing skills were poor, despite a class in "personal typing," in high school and I certainly didn't have a digital companion to carry around with me whenever the urge to jot something down hit my brain. Instead, I carried a steno pad and a pen.

What's going to happen to all those pages of historic masterpieces like mine--well maybe mine don't fit into the same masterpiece category as the Declaration of  Independence---years from now when cursive script becomes extinct as the dinosaurs?

I can see the future now. There will be college degrees in translating old texts into digital English for the masses who will then download them on 3D Kindle Flames that will probably read them aloud for them. It will be Dragon Naturally Speaking in reverse.  That technology already exists, but not for the lowly users yet---

Wait, I take that back. Kindle offers Whispersyc for some books already. Who knows what lurks on the horizon.

If handwriting is destined to become a thing of the past, will reading soon follow?

1 comment:

  1. i read recently that finland is going to stop teaching handwriting. ridiculous. we all need to be able to write!