If you’re able to read and write cursive writing, then you’re part of a dying breed that prides itself on having perfect curls and slants created by your pen. Over the past two decades, a majority of schools have abandoned the zealous pursuit of pushing children into cursive, which was the norm until the 1990s.
Almost all schools now follow the philosophy of letting the child learn what is easy for him. So while no handwriting style is required, the preference is clearly scripted/printed.
“It’s easier for students to read because that’s how they see this font in the books,” said senior scholar Shilpee Ganguly. “Ultimately, it helps them learn and identify characters faster.”
Parvati Iyer, another senior scholar, said: “At pre-primary level, the emphasis is now on the playful method so that learning the concepts is easier. While learning cursive writing requires the rote learning methodology, which contradicts the joyful learning method.
Lucky Sadrani, who is part of the new generation of directors moving into leadership positions, believes that print writing is more aligned with emerging future trends. “Students are looking for educational content in books or online. In both places it is a print font. Thus, content entry is faster. In addition, after graduation, there are hardly any professions left that require a lot of writing work. It’s all typed, and that again, is in print font,” Sadrani said.
The nearly two-decade-long slight boost away from cursive writing is now visible at the post-graduate level. Supantha Bhattacharya, who teaches English to senior students, said: “Very few answer sheets, probably around 15%, are now in cursive.”
John Landge, who retired a few years ago after teaching English for nearly three decades at a college in the city, said: “Cursive writing is almost gone now. Even when I was teaching, they took notes in printed/scripted form and were pretty quick. »
There are no additional brownie points from reviewers for writing in cursive.
Mahesh Karajgaonkar, former state council division chairman, said: “Notes are given for clean, legible handwriting, not for the police. Cursive writing is not lifting the pen until that word is finished, something like Modi script. Thus, letter placement was compact, making spelling mistakes rare. As a board, we have never made cursive mandatory.
Psychiatrists say it may actually be wise to “let the children live”. Senior psychiatrist Dr Shailesh Pangaonkar said: ‘Humans are the only species with the gift of writing. There’s a small area in the left side of the brain that’s responsible for this, and cursive writing looks more like graphics. There are people who may not be predisposed to it, so it’s best to give children a free hand to practice whatever makes learning easier.
Cursive writing is not very easy to learn after a certain age. Taranum Khan, who runs an institute that teaches cursive writing, said: “The students we get are mostly young people. You need to practice the strokes repeatedly to grasp this beautiful skill. As they progress to secondary level, there is not enough time available to learn new skills.
As cursive goes from “handwriting” to a dying art, some are trying to hold on strong. They believe cursive is an art worth saving.
Shahnoor Mirza, a senior scholar, said, “For me, handwriting is paramount. It’s not something you create on paper, rather it’s something that shows your character. When we were in school, people were proud of their writing, prizes were awarded and it was something to celebrate. I recently held a writing contest for my students and will now be doing the same for teachers.
Mirza and a few others could be fighting a losing battle. Even teaching it at the school level may not be enough to save this pre-90s era vanguard, as some have discovered.
Sister Pramita, who heads the primary section of a convent school, said, “We teach children cursive writing from an early age. But for many, as they move into high school and college, the style of writing undergoes changes as students gain speed in print writing. It turns into a print-cursive hybrid, then slowly, into print.
Vandana Benjamin, who has two separate doctorates in English language and education and now runs a teacher training college, said: “Just as the dinosaurs died out, two decades from now people who can read and write cursive will have disappeared. Sooner or later we will end up having teachers who can’t read cursive writing, so how will they grade an answer sheet if even a student writes it? »
She adds that cursive will soon become a “hobby”. “It will be like calligraphy, something you do in your spare time but never during exams. Maybe it’s time for us to accept that and move on,” Benjamin said.