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Cursive is Dead. Long Live the Keyboard.

I just read an interesting article that said the State of Indiana will no longer require their schools to teach cursive in class. My first response was more emotional than logical. I couldn’t believe that cursive writing is dying. It would be hard to imagine that my kids would not be able to read a note I wrote to them.

But then I stepped back and thought about the last time I actually wrote in cursive. Other than signing the occasional document, I seldom write in one long, fluid stroke anymore. Even the need to sign checks has diminished with online bill paying. In fact, other than my signature, I can’t recall the last time I wrote a note in cursive.

Instead of teaching cursive, the schools will be required to teach the use of a keyboard, a much more practical use of limited instruction time. So after reflecting, it seems that the schools are making a sound choice. But I still expect there to be a backlash.

The resistance is going to come solely from those who have already learned cursive. Whether it is tradition, or a feeling that the time they invested in learning it was wasted does not matter. People are slow to let go of the way they do things.

But think from the perspective of the kids. They will never know much about cursive, so they will not miss it. And they will not suffer for it. In fact, they will probably benefit from spending the time saved on building a more relevant skill. When they land their first job, will they be turning in their quarterly reports scribbled on a piece of paper? Of course not. Would you weigh the ability to write neatly in cursive more heavily than the ability to type 60+ words a minute in an executive assistant? Not likely.

This sort of resistance also happens when you make a change to a process via kaizen or daily improvement. The people who have been doing things the old way for a while will be most likely to resist, but the people who are brand new to the methods won’t care about its history. They just want the work to be as easy as possible.

So keep that in mind the next time you see someone clinging to an old method. They may have some illogical reasons for resisting the change, but that doesn’t mean the strength of the feelings are less. The trick is to identify the real source of the opposition, and essentially, mourn the loss of a piece of the past.

I’d be interested in hearing how you have either gotten past an emotional change in the past, or helped someone get over their resistance. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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2 Comments

  • david urwin says:

    Hello Jeff, an interesting observation. Does this mean that our future doctors’ prescriptions will be legible because our children all write manuscript? I wonder what effect this will have on defect rates at the pharmacy? Or indeed will this speed up the process because pharmacists won’t have to spend so long trying to decipher doctor handwriting? Improved flow? I guess you could say it is more akin to standardising the output, leading to improved communication by removing the ‘flourish’ of personalised cursive handwriting.

    As a footnote though, handwriting can be a beautiful art form so I truly hope it doesn’t disappear altogether!

    kind regards, David

    • Jeff Hajek says:

      Actually, I already see a lot of doctors doing their prescriptions on the computer (EMR-Electronic medical records). Actually even helps prevent drug interaction mistakes.

      I had some similar thoughts about the artistic content of handwriting, but think that it could be taught as art instead of as a utilitarian skill.

      Like I said in the article, though, my attachment is more emotional than logical. I am going to watch to see how often I actually use cursive in the coming year.

      Thanks for the comment,
      Jeff

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