Penmanship classes are on the decline. One study shows connections between cursive and drunk speech; should the curvy handwriting be saved at all costs?
Wichita, Kansas – Since 2010, forty four states have adopted common core educational standards. Common core has its share of detractors, people who deride the curriculum as making simple problems far more complex in the name of equal opportunity education, but the most recent attack isn’t about what common core includes, but what it leaves out.
“The new curriculum doesn’t require the teaching of cursive,” said Tilly Whinehouse, a teacher at Oatville Elementary. “Some teachers are continuing to teach their students penmanship, but it’s a practice that’s gradually fading.”
Teachers are beginning to see the end for cursive handwriting, and though some are fighting its demise, others admit it’s about time.
“We’re seeing the writing on the wall,” Whinehouse claimed.
Literally. Cursive writing came about because of the advantages it provided in writing speed and infrequent pen lifting in order to accommodate the limitations of a quill, which are fragile, easily broken, and will spatter if not used correctly. Precious few people use ball point pens and graphite pencils anymore, preferring to type out emails or thumb text messages, and none but a precious few anachronistic folks bother with quills at all. Cursive is less a necessary skill these days, and more of an art form.
Opposition to the death of cursive, however, is coming from an unlikely source. The Kansas Inebriated Speakers Society (KISS) is railing in public and political circles over the loss of the art of cursive penmanship.
“Mosht people don’t undersht– undershta– uner–,” stammered KISS founder Imma Biglush. “Mosht people don’t get it. Curshive is more than jush a form of handwriting. It’sh how drunk forksh shpook. Er. Shpeak.”
The argument KISS presents is simple: Cursive handwriting loops and curls about, just like drunken speech, so the two are interconnected. While this may sound outlandish, recent studies at Kansas State University support the premise.
Dr. Adrian Blythe, a psychology researcher at KSU and author of the acclaimed book Tongue Tied: The Mind Drunk Words How to Form, claimed, “There is corollary data to suggest those who cannot write in cursive also cannot speak well while under the influence.”
While the old adage that correlation doesn’t equal causation is true, the data is strong in its suggestion that cursive is indeed the language of the drunk. In Kansas, that could mean as much as a third of the population, when taking into consideration the populations of rural communities. This leaves the state with a conundrum: Can the government kill off a language so vital to its people?
The ability of KISS to lobby Governor Sam Brownback’s administration is hindered by their own cursive speaking, which puts them in a bit of a bind. Most members are dedicated to the art of inebriated speaking, and many refuse to talk at all until they are soused. Bernice Mattingly-Moore, an advocate for imbibers in the Hutchinson area, is concerned.
“If cursive is indeed dead,” Mattingly-Moore asked, “how does the drunk call a cab to get home? Or hit on the girl who became increasingly attractive over the course of the night? Or slur out his pleas to the bartender for one last round?”
Bernice has a solution, however. She recommends a grassroots campaign, much like the homeschooling movement that has taken the conservative state in recent years.
“Parents should prepare their children for that inevitable night when they’ve had one too many and find themselves wandering a field making googly eyes at Holsteins,” she said. “They need to be able to communicate.”
“And to know,” Mattingly-Moore added, “when someone is actually able to communicate back.”