I'm a little behind on my magazine reading, but I've been leafing through the August 4 issue of 'Rolling Stone' I've had stashed in my desk at work. One of my favorite recurring features is the news-bite infographic, "Threat Assessment," where recent occurrences are rated on a scale of "With Us" to "Against Us." Far down the scale toward "Against Us," this issue lists the spike in birth control prices after New Hampshire's defunding of Planned Parenthood and government shutdown that caused "beer shortages" in Minnesota. On the "With Us" end of the spectrum is the birth of South Sudan, a Bahamas ban on shark fishing, and..."Indiana schools stop teaching cursive."
What? Really? Putting aside the fact that I clearly remember learning D'Nealian cursive in an Indiana public school, I'm totally confused as to why 'Rolling Stone' would take an anti-cursive stance. Yes, in a digital world, cursive is probably less important to the average human, Hoosier or otherwise. But handwritten communication is still a part of life — think of memo boards, greeting cards, phone messages — and all that NOT teaching it does is create a generation of Indianans who can't read half of other people's handwriting.
I know, I know. There are text messages, emails, digital display screens, and probably cursive-reading apps out there to help the confused reader of analog text. But this obsession with how ubiquitous virtual text, information, and possessions have become seems to assume that there will someday exists a people that don't need ACTUAL anything. Personally, though, I doubt that paper and ink will ever die out completely. A paperless, hadwriting-free world would be one where we all stared at screens all day long, for everything. Does that really sound appealing to anybody?
We'll see. For now, the world is still full of paper and ink, and, hand to God, I use cursive every single day. I guess I'll just have to hand-write a desultory letter to 'Rolling Stone,' sadly knowing that none of the little third-graders in Indiana will have any idea what it says.