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Tomas Quinones

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Will handwriting go extinct like an ancient art only practiced by a handful of people across the world?

I recently took a writing class at a local community college where the professor did not allow us to use computers while in the classroom. We had to use pens and paper to write rough drafts of stories, arguments, observations and comparisons.

To me, the act of handwriting had not been regularly practiced since I was in high school during the early nineties and yet over half the class were students under the age of 19 years old. The rest of the class varied from 20 to 50 in age and yet by handwriting alone, I could tell which student had the better handwriting.

Some of the younger students weren't able to write cursive at all, others barely made anything legible, while the older students were commended on their nice writing, I couldn't help but wonder if the younger generation were no longer going to learn to legibly write well.

Some of the students I spoke to about this observation claimed they were never taught to write in cursive and did all of their writing assignments and notes on a laptop since they were in kindergarten. Even printing letters was a challenge for them for they lacked the practiced motor skills in their hands to allow other humans to read their ideas.

After the course ended, I've asked friends, strangers at cafes and other teachers if this was a dreadful decline in penmanship that will never come back as a means of communication.

What do you think? Will handwriting, printing or cursive, become a rare art that only artists and historians would practice? Will typing eventually become the only way we can communicate unspoken words to other humans? Will children eventually grow up never knowing how to hold a pencil and write?

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    Aug 4 2011: NO.
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    Aug 4 2011: I don't think handwriting will disappear. Has it disappeared with the first telegraphs or typewriters? Nope, it hasn't. The majority of teachers and many professors still ban laptops and other devices from the classrooms. Furthermore, tablets and special digital pens support handwriting, even though it may not be on regular paper, but on electronic surfaces. So even with new technologies, there is still room for writing. Even in fifty years, a handwritten card will have more value than an e-mail. Maybe cursive handwriting will become more of an artistic practice, but I don't think handwriting as a cultural practice will disappear.
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    Aug 2 2011: I resisted the keyboard all through high school but eventually I caved in (I was studying computer science after all). A few years ago, I would have seriously doubted this proposition, but computers are just so ubiquitous and electronic submission so easy now that it is possible to imagine handwriting going extinct. It would be a shame though
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    Aug 3 2011: Oddly enough, when I think back on my middle school years, one thing stands out to me. My 8th grade English teacher predicted that crusive handwriting will soon disappear. And with all of the technology that has been developing, I wouldn't be surprised. A perfect example of writing examples would be the documents that were created and signed by our founding fathers of America. They ALL wrote in cursive. And slowly but surely, as the years passed, cursvie became less popular. And eventually, I do believe, like my 8th grade teacher, it will disappear. And soon after that, regular print will disappear because of technology. Not any time soon, but eventually.
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    Aug 3 2011: As a writer myself I try to take notes daily to preserve my handwriting skills ( which are not so artistic but still working). And about the future yes, It will disappear for good in some time. Unfortunately our writing is directly linked to our perception of the world and it is also changing in a more self-centric and techno-addicted way.
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    Aug 3 2011: I feel cursive handwriting will disappear. I know personally, at my 7 year old nephews school they recently said they were taking cursive handwriting out of the school and replacing it with keyboard efficiency. Where 10 years ago I was learning handwriting at this same exact school. So I can see this making it's way into other schools and over time becoming the "normal". I do think that it is a shame. My aunts and uncles still seem to be using handwriting quite regularly. But I don't see this in people my age group (20). I only truthfully ever use it when signing my name. Other then that I type. Or print. So in the foreseeable future I don't see all hand written techniques being completely lost. But I am seeing the start of this process of eliminating handwriting even in my little hometown. Thanks for this thought, it raises very good points.

    - Jamie
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    Aug 3 2011: If my family is any indicator....it will. My grandchildren, 22, 20 and 17 cannot write. The only thing they can do is print. And they have callouses on both thumbs.
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    Aug 3 2011: WOW I would never have thought about hand writing disappearing.My initial thought is I do not think this will happen for a couple of reasons. Even with the massive amounts of electronics and the cloud many businesses, agencies, schools, and others are still required to keep record copies on paper. Granted they can be printouts yet, many times something is added or amended in hand writing so we do not have to reprint it out. Maybe some day everyone will have phones with email or Im or something but for now I do not think that it is so universal that hand written text is threatened. Next, as a teacher I prefer printed or computer generated and printed materials because it is easier for me to read. Many teachers in my school feel the same way. I do take electronic homework but during a test or quiz it must be handwritten as we just do not have that many computers available. I like printed because like you pointed out cursive is not often taught nor does it seem to be well practiced so it is hard for me to read. It like the gel pens that were so popular a few years ago. I had to ask students to use black or blue ink because at 59 I was having trouble reading the yellow, orange, pink colors even on the black paper they sometimes used. Finally, maybe this is just a personal item but I enjoy handwritten letters and cards. I think that indicates that they are more personal than just printed out by the 1,000's. I hope hand writing does not disappear forever in all of life.
    Thanks for the interesting insight and subject
    James