The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, April 07, 2003

The continued use of cursive writing

This past weekend was spent on cursive drills.

During the one of the marathon homework sessions, The Older mentioned the work being hard because he hadn't had enough practice with cursive writing. Both Spring and I had a similar idea—a cursive writing drill.

From a typing instruction manual (Typing Made Simple, Copyright © 1957—it's an amusing read) I found ten sentences that contain every letter of the alphabet and the intent was for The Older to copy each sentence five times:

  1. Joseph Boxer packed my sledge with five dozen quails.
  2. Peter Fahb quickly mixed two dozen jugs of liquid veneer.
  3. The job requires extra pluck and zeal from every young wage earner.
  4. The jovial chemist quickly analyzed the mixture of brown and green powder.
  5. The queer, lazy witness from Kansas vexed the capable, patient old judge.
  6. John Wilborg, trapeze artist, executed his famous jumping act very quickly.
  7. Joe Quick, brainy government expert, was amazed to find numerous errors in the tax report.
  8. You can make good on your job and even excel in your work if you perform every task with quiet zeal.
  9. Our laboratory has just developed an amazing new wax that quickly restores the original finish on all furniture.
  10. John Quinn improved his typewriting skill by seizing every opportunity to practice effective speedbuilding exercises. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

At a minute per sentence, it would take less than an hour; even at five minutes per sentence it should have only taken three hours (and the last sentence was changed when The Older exclaimed that it was so long it would take forever to write) but instead it turned into a weekend long marathon to write the fifty sentences.

“How did they come up with some of these letters? The b doesn't look like a b,” said The Older.

“Because it's easier to write it that way,” I said (during my stint at overviewing the cursive drills). “Cursive writing came about because it's faster to write than printing. Write the next word, please.”

“This is stupid,” he said. “Why do we have to learn this?”

“Because it's required by the educational system and once past third grade, you won't be allowed to write in print at all,” I said. “I don't hear the sound of pencil against paper.”

“Well, when I'm President, I'll outlaw cursive writing,” he said.

“That's nice, but until you become President, you need to write in cursive. So write!” And he would write the next word, and spend the next few minutes looking about, playing with his pencil and otherwise do anything else but write.

All day Saturday.

And Sunday.

But he finished the drill.

I had plans to meet with friends on Sunday afternoon. When I met up with them, I asked them how many still use cursive in their day-to-day activities. I had expected that no one still used cursive writing since I certainly don't write by hand every day; neither does Spring. But two samples do not a trend make as I found out when half my friends said that yes, they still use cursive writing in their day-to-day activities; one stated that it was faster for him to take notes in cursive than it was to take notes in print.

I'm sure The Older will not be pleased to hear this.

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