In order to make room for other allegedly more important things in the primary grades, it has been suggested that cursive, or the universal handwriting system of the Roman alphabet, should no longer be taught in our schools.
Some doomsayers have asked what then would someone base their signature on? If not cursive, there might not be any true options, so people would have to identify themselves by other means. I’m not so worried about this as I’ve heard various security people saying that the signature is expensive to maintain as authorization and is easily fooled.
I say let’s revel in that cursive free world.
Remember that list of new words that gets trotted out every decade or so as the new slang of a new generation that wants to keep things from older people? Or those graffiti taggers who try to say things in their own code so only they and their young friends will know what they are talking about. I say there is no need for new investigations every so often. Older people just need to have a code of their own to keep young people out of the loop. Cursive is a good candidate for this.
I know I had a hard time reading handwriting until I learned cursive. I couldn’t see through it’s hidden agenda to largely make printed letters into one flowing line for an entire word. But I was very young when I learned cursive. A thirteen year old would likely see through this trick with some study. Especially after translating various fonts of printing for most of their lives.
We should make cursive writing more opaque. So I suggest we firstly get rid of the capital letters of cursive. Those largely make it more obvious that we are speaking in a code a thirteen year old could easily break.
I would also suggest we get rid of the obvious crosses of the letters t and x, as well as the dots of i and j. This will creat confusion between t and l, i and e, and x and n. But with careful cursive the discerning reader will be able to tell all the letters apart. Below I have written the words little, title, jinx and Texas using these points. Notice that they will probably slow down your reading speed but you can still identify the letters.
So what can we do with cursive code? Why everything that the young generation tries to hide from adults.
As well, some parents already publicly shame their kids as punishments. Like holding up signs in public outlining their transgressions. Psychologists generally frown on this and think it can damage a young person’s self esteem and sense of well being. With cursive, the parent can graffiti a wall near home – outing their kid to all the older people. The kid will never know they’ve been outed.
Cursive could serve as a secret society maker. Only the kids smart enough to read it by eventually seeing the letters or those using a straight forward substitution code would be able to interpret it. We could let those kids in on the secret. So we could keep the secret permanently. It might be the best working secret society ever. (Largely because I’d be included. For the record secret societies I am not a member of are bad and secret societies that I am a member of are good.)
Every new generation of children tries to outsmart their parents by their use of language. Finally we adults could strike back, by just not teaching children cursive.
(Added March 10, 2014) Postscript: A secret society like this might have already existed. The lost art of shorthand was used by secretaries to get down all the words the boss said as he said them. This occurred before tape recorders were everywhere. I believe that the secret society shorthand spawned was responsible for creating Secretaries Day. As well, the secret society is probably also responsible for the upgrade in name from secretary to executive assistant. Remember you can’t spell secretary without secret.