Print, not cursive, won the handwriting battle

By Auren Hoffman

Mr. Nancetti, my third grade teacher, was wrong.

Mr. Nancetti claimed that script, or "cursive", handwriting was much easier and faster to write. He was wrong.

Writing in script is slower, messier, harder to read, and rare. What percent of the population writes in script? I doubt that it is very high. I can't remember the last note I received in "cursive" writing.

With typing now the norm rather than the exception, print handwriting will be forever dominant over script. Gone are the days when z's look like y's or when n's and m's are barely distinguishable.

I used to tease my mother that she did not know how to write in "cursive" -- she had never learnt it in school. But now I envy her for not spending time learning a soon-to-be defunct dialect of handwriting.

It could be that "graffiti," the handwriting style introduced by US Robotics' (now 3com) Pilot, will soon overtake script as the number 2 form of penmanship in the United States.

The biggest problem with teaching kids cursive writing is it takes the place of ensuring better penmanship. I can't tell you how many times I get notes from co-workers, colleagues, and friends that I can't read. Important messages are indecipherable and beautiful post-cards contain cryptic messages. If people would focus, just a little bit, on improving their handwriting rather than learning a new handwriting style, messages would be a little clearer.

So my suggestion is to scrap cursive writing altogether. Stop wasting third graders time when you could be teach more math, spelling, reading, government, or typing. Getting rid of cursive writing won't make the world a significantly better place or solve world hunger or create lasting peace, but it will ensure that written documents will be more legible. It will be a very tiny step toward a more productive society -- and we won't waste months of our children's life having to learn a handwriting style that is virtually useless.

Summation: stop teaching cursive writing in the classroom and stop encourage people to write neatly in print.

Auren Hoffman writes a weekly column called Summation (