Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Gen Z Unable To Comprehend Cursive


Sadly, it appears Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) never learned to read—or write-- in cursive.

From Deseret News:

With the development and prominence of technology, cursive has become increasingly obsolete, but what impact will this have for the future?

According to The Atlantic, this means, “In the future, cursive will have to be taught to scholars the way Elizabethan secretary hand or paleography is today.” This directly impacts archival work. Many written documents from the 19th century and other early time periods are written in cursive. While it was once taken for granted that American students would know how to read cursive, now that cannot be the case.

Archival work largely depends on a reader’s ability to read hard-to-read texts in shorthand and/or cursive. Will this mean that universities will start having to offer college courses in history programs on how to read cursive? Only time will tell.


Some educators say the advent of Common Core is largely to blame for Gen Z being unable to fathom cursive, but there is more to it than that. Cursive writing, like Calligraphy (though obviously to a lesser extent), requires much practice and patience, a focused and steady mind and hand…and a writing implement (instead of a keyboard or screen). These are all things in short supply today.


Deseret News again:

Drew Gilpin Faust, who wrote in The Atlantic about the loss of cursive, told NPR that the loss of cursive means that “the past is presented to us indirectly.”

Using the example of a contract, Faust said to NPR, “I mean, just imagine if you had some kind of contract that you had signed and you couldn’t read it and someone told you, well, this is what’s in the contract. That’s what’s in the contract. And then later you might find that it was something else. So there are limits in your power, in your sense of how the world works and your sense of how the world used to work when you can’t have access to a means of communication.”


In an article for the NEA, Cindy Long noted that “many studies have shown that learning cursive not only improves retention and comprehension, it engages the brain on a deep level as students learn to join letters in a continuous flow.” She added, “It also enhances fine motor dexterity and gives children a better idea of how words work in combination.”


Newspapers and periodicals are going the way of the dodo. Most kids now listen to books-- or read from a Kindle or E-book. Many can’t tell time from an analog clock.


Reading the words of our founders-- or of any who came before us-- beautifully written in longhand, brings us closer to them. The flowing words on a letter or manuscript, or from a diary, seem to reveal more of their character—and the truth—than is possible to glean from printout, screen, or audio book.

This is one more skill lost, one more link to our past cast coldly aside.

Do we really know what time it is? Some say the writing is on the wall…but some of us may no longer be able to read it.





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