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A Loss for Philography: The End of Joined Up Writing?

Imagine not being able to read the original manuscript of the US Declaration of Independence, or beautifully written letters from times past. Well, as the harbingers of doom say:  'the end is nigh'.

Though I've seen the signs coming, I've optimistically thought that reports of the end of that grown up penmanship that Americans call 'cursive' and the rest of us call 'running writing' were premature.

Sure, keyboards have taken over, but people will always be taught how to write right, right?

This New York Times Article points out that although running writing is still taught at US schools, it is for a much shorter period of time. Of far more concern to me is the reaction in a Seattle, WA blog where (presumably) adult respondents not only contemptuously dismiss the use of cursive handwriting, but do not even consider, or are unaware of, the relative merits of learning joined up writing, such as the value to a child's developing motor skills, its artistic value, and, importantly to me, at least, the fact that people who can only print may leave themselves open to being victims of forgery.

It is the latter two, artistic value and the importance of handwriting in establishing identity, that are of paramount importance to businesspeople, and the purveyors of antiques and collectables, especially. What effect will the loss of running writing in society have on the collectability of historic documents, letters and philography (collecting signatures)? What is happening to our notion of 'art for art's sake'?

In an age where identity theft is of increasing concern, and is becoming something of a specialty among the criminal classes, do we really need to give them more tools for their fraud arsenals, just out of thoughtlessness, a lack of vision and a myopic reliance on technology?

Worthy of more than just a passing thought.


Emma jacob said...

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Patti Hanan said...

I agree with you. If you compare the beautiful handwriting of days gone by with today's penmanship, there is a huge difference. I am a high school teacher, and I find most students print. Very little time is spent in teaching cursive in elementary schools anymore. It is a loss.

that's life! said...

Thank you for stopping by, Patti, and especially for taking the time to comment, it is much appreciated. It's encouraging to read that a teacher recognises some intrinsic value in handwriting. From what I read, most seem to feel its expendable in today's world, which may well be true, but is sad.

torcon said...

Aleta, this is a GREAT post!!! Very insightful, thoughtful and provocative - I never thought about all of the areas of our lives touched by "running writing"! Thanks for the education, perspective and clarion call to keep it in schools!!!

that's life! said...

Thanks! Not something I would have thought of before reading the articles, but once I had, I cared enough to pass it on!

Lady Bren said...

Oh what a great blog
Loved the facts. It's so true about how it is no longer stressed in schools. My oldest and youngest are 5 school years apart and in that short time span how the lessons changed!!