Regarding the April 7 Metro article “Clipping the script”:
I’m saddened that cursive handwriting is disappearing. Here’s my two cents: Script writing, though not easy, has been one of mankind’s most wonderful crafts because it taught so many lessons all at once. It taught hand and eye control; it taught learning to follow directions; it taught internal discipline of the hand, brain and eye; and, most usefully, it taught getting things right the first time.
Nowadays, with computer spelling and grammar programs, just about any student can dream up something and write it well. If a mistake is made, a simple delete or insert command solves the problem. No careful thought before writing is needed.
I remember learning to write script in 1934. It was tough. I wasn’t good at it but still had to work to improve so my teacher wouldn’t contact my mother. Yet it taught me to think things through in advance, plan my writing and carefully script it so I wouldn’t have to cross things out. The internal discipline I learned has stood me well for over 80 years.
Peter S. Swanson, Fairfax
Although computers and other handheld devices have replaced many of the functions once reserved for handwriting, one’s signature remains personal, as unique as DNA. It cannot be replicated by machine, if only because each time someone signs his or her name it differs slightly from all other signatures; machines, like the autopen used in the White House, create identical signatures. To consign cursive handwriting to the dustbin of history is to remove permanently a facet of one’s uniqueness. After all, who’s to say who typed in a “signature”?
Fourth-grade teacher Harolyn Slaughter tells children that their signatures, or autographs, will be sought when they become famous soccer players, an extremely unlikely event. It would be better if she were to mention how necessary a cursive signature is on legal documents such as a mortgage, a will or a contract — far more important and practical than the pie-in-the-sky ability to sign an autograph.
David E. Hubler, Annandale
The trend to stop teaching cursive handwriting represents more than the passing of what is popularly assumed to be an antiquated and unnecessary skill. There is a much more dangerous implication. Our growing lack of ability to write longhand exemplifies a march toward an unhealthy reliance on technology, moving us ever closer to becoming not the masters of our new devices but rather, as Thoreau warned, the tools of our tools.
Unless we maintain at least some measure of independence from the inexorable advance of digital creep, even if only as a contingency, our technologically dependent society may one day find itself virtually helpless and incompetent in the face of dead batteries, let alone catastrophic technical failure. If that day ever comes, the new masters will be, ironically, those who can wield a pen or pencil in the digital darkness.
M.C. Lang, Bethesda
I attended Catholic elementary school and am grateful for the opportunity to learn script. I have since earned degrees in mathematics, economics and industrial engineering. Although proficiency with technological applications is essential, data entry via keyboard, especially when dealing with symbols and equations, is clunky. I am able to maintain focus and clarity when I write equations by hand, and my mastery of script allows ideas to flow from pen to paper in a fluid process that enhances my focus. Friends enrolled in medical schools are required to buy computers equipped with advanced on-screen writing capabilities for this reason. Typing and printing can interrupt continuity, and we owe our students an exposure to different methods.
I am also not a grandparent: I’m 30.
Robert Kennedy Smith, Silver Spring