September 08, 2016
Articles like <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/opinion/handwriting-just-doesnt-matter.html?_r=0">this</a> always drive me nuts. We still use hand writing a lot in our daily lives, even though it doesn’t have the same role as it used to have.
The author uses one of the most ignorant and idiotic arguments I have seen in a very long time:
<p> But as a left-hander with terrible handwriting who watched my son struggle to master cursive — he had to stay inside during recess for much of third grade because he wrote his j’s backward — that is a loss I can weather. And history is replete with similar losses; consider how rarely people now carve words in stone, dip pens into ink or swipe platens of typewriters. There will be no loss to our children’s intelligence. The cultural values we project onto handwriting will alter as we do, as they have for the past 6,000 years. </p>
School isn’t just about learning useful skills. It is also about learning a wide skill set, so that you can figure out what you want to do later in life. But the most important thing is that many things in life are hard. You still have to do them, and it is good for you.
You still need handwriting. Many subjects you are going to take require you to do a handwritten exam, not because we are old fashioned, but because subjects like Math, Physics or Logic require very sophisticated software and a lot of training before you are able to do the same thing that you can do with a simple piece of paper and a ruler.
There are also many things in your daily life where you are expected to write by hand, for example when you have to fill out some forms. Or in a meeting when you are brainstorming on large piece of paper or a whiteboard. Or in a meeting with a designer when you are trying to figure out how something should look.
You can probably do the same thing on a computer, and we do, but it is often faster, easier and better to do it on paper.
Now. Cursive. My cursive hand writing is horrible, and I hated it when I had to learn it. But it is still a very useful skill. I can read cursive because of it, even though I can’t write it myself. We have spent many hundred years, and billions of dollars to learn how to understand dead languages that we lost the direct ties to. We will cut the ties to most of the primary sources available to historians if we stop teaching cursive. That is bad. The long term problem is that we could loose the ability to read them at all. The short term problem is for everyone that need in their field or study or other work related task. Instead of using a little bit of time learning it, while learning is easier, they have to learn it much later. This means more training or education for various research positions and probably regular jobs as well before they can do their job.