Conservatives are really worried that children are no longer being taught to write in that squiggly, often semi-legible analog font called “cursive handwriting” that many of us pointlessly learned as children in grade school. Yes, kids these days may be able to perform basic computer programming functions before they even leave the fifth grade, but the fact that they can’t pick up a No. 2 pencil and do something that they will most likely never have to do in their professional lives or even in their academic lives beyond the sixth grade is to conservatives and other traditionalists a major indicator of society’s continuing degradation.
To remedy this, conservatives across the United States have worked hard to enact legislation that will mandate the teaching of cursive to school kids. These kids may not have adequate access to computers or textbooks or might be stuck in overflowing classrooms taught by underpaid teachers because their schools have been hit hard by Republican cuts to education funding, but at least they’ll be able to write that elusive cursive “Q” that most of us forgot months after being taught cursive and then never noticed because it’s not a particularly useful skill in the real world.
The latest state to join the cursive-obsession bandwagon is Indiana. According to the Indy Channel, Republican State Senator Jean Leising has introduced legislation to mandate the teaching of cursive at all Indiana public elementary schools. In fact, she’s been doing it for the past six years and the move is really going full-steam ahead this time.
“Cursive writing was not made a Common Core standard in the past, so many schools stopped teaching the skill,” Leising said. “Now, we are starting to see the effects. For example, some teenagers are unable to sign their name to validate their driver’s license or sign agreements. It’s a simple, yet necessary skill we still use in society today, and it needs to be a part of our children’s educational foundation.”
Leising seems to be forgetting that “signing” our names is something most of us have made a mockery of. No longer the lone vocation of medical doctors on prescription forms, the average adult sees his or her signature as a chance to show off their natural skill at abstract design, laying to paper “signatures” that have only a passing resemblance to anything anyone would describe as classic cursive handwriting.
Aside from writing our names every so often, very few of us ever encounter the need to write in cursive in our adult lives. Actually, it’s typically frowned on in professional environments because it’s harder to read than plain handwriting. And aside from scribbling notes in meetings or writing quick memos, most of what the modern human does on the job these days involves typing on computers.
According to New York Magazine, the obsession with cursive handwriting among conservatives and even a few Democrats dates back several years. While GOP-led legislation has successfully implemented cursive laws in states such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, even solidly blue California has a cursive law on the books.
The obsession with cursive handwriting is not really a party issue so much as a preoccupation for traditionally minded people. Most of those just happen to be conservative Republicans, and specifically conservative baby boomers. Instead of sitting down and thinking about whether or not fancy, squiggly writing is a truly necessary and vital skill to teach children, the attitude that “well in my day that’s what we did” prevails and people become obsessed with a silly and frivolous thing like cursive. The problem is that a focus on this silly obsession does nothing to improve the dreadful state of education in the United States and, in fact, moves us in a completely wrong and dysfunctional direction.