Generation Gaps: Handwriting Style

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Jackie Steele, Staff Writer

Follow me on my journey of questioning certain quirks of life. Although these questions may not be conventional, they are certainly applicable to the present and may even be things you have questioned at some point. I may not be able to answer these questions, but I’ll definitely be able to entertain you with them.

Throughout my career in the public education system, I have received countless books that have the traditional stamp for students to write their names in. If the book is super ancient though, I can easily tell by the all-too traditional and perfectly done cursive handwriting. And although, yes, some (older) people do still write in cursive, I never see that same traditional script as perfectly executed as 80’s script. Even boys, who today are notorious for sloppy handwriting, had perfect handwriting at the end of the 20th century. So that leads me to ask: what causes differences in handwriting between generations?

It seems like something that could be coincidental, but in reality, there’s no doubt that the difference is noticeable. I have nothing against cursive (maybe some jealousy though… why can’t my handwriting be that perfect?), but why has today’s generation shifted away traditional penmanship and let kids have free reign over the way they choose to write? In elementary school, teachers made a big deal about knowing how to write in cursive: “You will be asked to write in cursive throughout middle school and high school!” And yes, I’m positive I was told this by several teachers. Not once have I been asked to write in cursive…unless the SAT and ACT statements count. Nonetheless, teachers continue to teach their third grade students letter by letter the cursive way.

A simple answer to this mind-boggling question would be that teachers simply don’t stress the use of students’ cursive skills. There is no doubt that our world is far less formal than it previously has been and there isn’t as much emphasis on being proper, which could very well be a factor in the penmanship shift.

Has the technological boom had something to do with this change? Maybe people tend to write more like the fonts on a computer since most of us spend a lot of time searching the web. With so much of our lives now depending on the computer, there isn’t as much necessity to use our own handwriting. The majority of college applications are now done online, and we turn in most all of our essays typed. This type of shift could certainly explain why we now see this generational change in handwriting.

No matter what the reason, there is no way this issue could be coincidental. Perhaps one day handwriting will be robotic and futuristic, reflecting on an ultra-techy world. But there is no doubt that, in the words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a changin’.