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He Can’t Read Cursive and Being Different

August 16, 2010

Generational Moments Continued…

He Can’t Read Cursive

When I first heard the mom say this about her son I thought it must be a learning issue, not generational.  But no she insisted.  Her son is headed off to college this month on a full ride, makes great grades and just can’t read cursive handwriting.  She explained that she asked her doctor about it and he explained that since her son has grown up reading mostly, if not all, plain text he hasn’t been exposed to cursive writing enough to read it well (and he wasn’t pressed to either).  “Think about it,” she explained.  “Everything he reads is pretty much on the computer and phone (or text book) and all papers he writes are typed on the computer…all of which are plain text.”

So I’m wondering…will this impact him when he joins the workforce?  Unless you do calligraphy for a living do you need cursive?  Is cursive a dying font?  I still remember sitting in kindergarten (or maybe first grade) tracing the sandpaper cursive letters which is how I learned to write in cursive.  Do they teach that in school today? 

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They are just different.

Over the Fourth of July, I went home for a few days and caught up with my college Greek life advisor for lunch.  I graduated from college (can’t believe I’m admitting to this) ten years ago, and about eight years after I graduated she moved to my hometown when her husband was transferred. 

As we chatted over lunch she described the students she worked with in her last few years as not being like my generation.  “They are just different – lack being self-starters and don’t seem to care the ways you guys did.” 

It’s not an uncommon description I hear when people from the Generation X or Baby Boomer generations describe the Millennials.  Now I don’t know who in particular she was talking about, but if they worked closely with her it meant they were sorority and fraternity presidents, recruitment chairs or Panhellenic or Fraternity Council officers.  (Yes, I hear the snickering now, but when I was in college they were highly sought after positions and provided incredible leadership opportunities.)  She poured her heart and soul into the job and I can understand how it would have impacted her to work with new leaders that brought a different degree of commitment to the position.  I’m sure many can relate to working hard on a project that is supposed to be a team or group project and feeling like not everyone is pulling their own weight. 

We didn’t have time to really dive into the conversation more as we had lots to catch up on and the four kids between us kept diverting our attention.  But my assumption is if I asked her and the students to define commitment, what a job done well looks like and what it means to be a self-starter, their definitions would be different.  And it is the difference that creates tension and disappointment making this a generational issue. 

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What are your thoughts?

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One comment

  1. Cursive probably is a dying font and I didn’t realize that kids weren’t being taught it in schools anymore. But I guess if it isn’t being used much in the real world then why teach it. When I was in elementary school and middle school in the 1980s and early 90s, we used to have to write in cursive for our book reports and essays or other important assignments. But by the time I got to high school and computers had become such an integrated part of the lesson plan, we now had to type those important assignments, which is how I imagine it is currently.

    The only time I write in cursive nowadays is to sign my name. Will we still use cursive signatures in the future if kids today aren’t being taught cursive?



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