TED Conversations

Robert Winner


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Should cursive writing be required in schools?

Only three state have made cursive a part of the core curriculum requirements while 45 states require proficiency in computer keyboarding at the elementry level. Some states have made cursive optional.

Has our society advanced to the point of where handwriting has become unnecessary.

What impacts can you see on not being able to write in cursive. Could printing be just as acceptable?


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  • Dec 5 2012: I can understand how cursive writing can be considered a dying form of communication, but the connotations of its death are conceptually far reaching. Practicality aside, cursive writing is an ancient part of global culture, and not just within the English language but within others as well. To provide a more illustrative depiction of the point I would like to make, I would like to loosely describe our relationship with the hand-written word.

    From the time society began to have form, language has been integral to our understanding of the world around us. Initially our forms of communication might have been through action, that is to say, through hand gestures, the physical interaction with the things around us, body language. As we developed the linguistic qualities that have determined the world's languages today, we began to form words that have meaning within context. Grammar began to form and structure became inherent in how we spoke and articulated to others our identities and relationships. Soon we invented a system that we could use to document our history, and it is through that system that we have progressed in understanding the world.

    Cursive is a thing that notably left us with a legacy of hard copy accounts of world history. Even more important, the hard copy manufacturing of language itself (any language) has allowed us to gain an understanding of other societies and cultures, both ancient and current. While it is fine that communication is moving to an ever more present e-format, just the fact that our documents might become and forever be electronic is dangerous, as it is possible to lose electronic data. If even to preserve the legacy of civilization, the hard-copy, hand-written form of documentation is important, or at the very least having printed versions of our collective global knowledge.

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