Lost Language Arts. Cursive is dead.

Substitute teaching was an eye-opening experience.  To say things have changed is the understatement of the YEAR!

However, ah hello…where did cursive go?

What happened to shorthand & cursive

Cursive is gone.  It seems to have died the same slow death dealt to shorthand.  Dead, like shorthand.  Gone, quietly and unceremoniously.

I remember when shorthand was retired from the public school system in the early 80’s (at least where I went to school).  Poor ole girl she fought a tough battle, but ultimately lost.  I’m sure there are people who continue to learn to use shorthand to some extent, but gone are the days of steno pads, and shorthand drills.

However, I still recall those glory days.  A product of the 60’s, I was so excited to get to High School in the fall of 1979 and have my shorthand book issued to me.  Hysterically, similar to the book my mother had used some 20 years earlier.


Being the language freak I am (note, I did not say language guru), I was and am still amazed and intrigued by shorthand which, I consider a language.  There were a couple of methods if I recall — Pittman was used in the UK and Gregg used in the US.

According to the internet, there are countries where shorthand is still taught. And I’m sure there are some professionals who would find it an advantageous and useful tool.  However, if you asked someone under 40 what shorthand is / was they would be hard pressed to respond.

Cool stuff shorthand, sometimes referred to as stenography. I would often imagine myself as a WWII code breaker, transmitting and deciphering secret war time messages.

I can still write I love you – see below.

I Love You

Cursive an endangered species

“You wrote your name in cursive, who taught you?” I asked. “My grandma,” the 4th grader responded. “Great job buddy!” I enthusiastically replied.  

As a substitute teacher, I quickly learned to not write my name on the whiteboard (not to be confused with a blackboard) in cursive, because the students could not read it if I did.

Just a few short years ago my children were taught and learned to write in cursive, I remember hearing rumors of its decline, but really paid it no mind.  It’ll never happened I thought to myself.  But now as my grandchildren have entered school I realize, it’s pretty much a done deal.  It’s gone!

I understand the rhetoric.  Just like I understood the very similar rhetoric as shorthand was enjoying her final days.  Yet, it still saddens me to know my grandchildren WILL NEVER KNOW HOW TO WRITE CURSIVE. 

It’s up to me to pass this on. 

There’s so much to learn these days

I don’t even know where the educators would find time in the school day to add cursive. I’m not even sure of the actual status of cursive (state to state), but I’m pretty sure it’s not part of today’s standards in my state.  An internet search will leave you unsure and you’ll find it a very heated and debated subject.

I’ve been so impressed with today’s teachers and students.  The teachers teach some amazing concepts.  And the students absorb these concepts at an incredible rate.  Far more advanced at a given age than I remember being.

Today’s standards are just that, today’s standards.  They are for the NOW.  They are relevant and solid, and I have faith in the education system I witnessed.

Vintage themes and remembering change is progress

As much as I like vintage, I’m a big advocate for change.  Believing in change and always proclaiming publicly — change is growth, change is progress.

I keep in my pocket a picture of the past a memory of long, long last.

There are things we can and should share and treasures we should care for and pass on such as recipes, prayers, memories, trinkets, skills, quilts, and last but not least, cursive and shorthand.

Like the cold war, the typewriter, and the film camera, cursive and shorthand are memories I have.  Memories, my children and grandchildren don’t have.  And like the memories of my parents (the draft, Elvis, and the 57 Chevy) and of my grandparents (the great depression, the jitterbug, and WWII), each set subjective.  They are relevant only to OUR unique time here on earth.

The truth of the matter is

Things change, they evolve, they fade.  Many traditions, arts, languages, customs, ways etc… are lost to progress or simply to time.

It’s understandable, but none the less sad.

Cursive is to today’s elementary school student what shorthand was to me.

It’s not rocket science and saving it will not end world hunger.  It’s a dying art, a piece of the past, which can be shared in love, received with intrigue and recalled nostalgically.

I hope you enjoyed this look back; I know I did.

What will you pass on to the next generation?


12 responses to “Lost Language Arts. Cursive is dead.”

  1. I turn to Darwin when I find myself clinging onto things that are passing – evolution is natural and we must embrace it. I think that we live in an era of extremely fast forward change, though, which can be hard to keep up with. I still use Shorthand (Pitman at around 140 WPM last time I tested) to take notes though I haven’t used it professionally for a very long time. Old habits can die hard and I do so enjoy making the shapes! Cursive is still taught in France. Even little Daphné who lived upstairs from me in Grenoble had neater handwriting than my stepson educated here. Sorry but it is true! It’s hard to know what is worth holding on to and what is not. I guess a crystal ball would be helpful – an eye on the future and the effects of what where we are headed …..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactement! Change is progress – and passing on the vintage is truly heartfelt. And wow on the wpm – I don’t think I ever was fast. I just loved the art of it – the lines and the thought that it was a code. Now typing – I was fast!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And in those days there was no autocorrect!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. lol 😂 and I am the worst speller – still.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fabulous post. I learnt typewriting (yes, typewriting not typing) at school, but we didn’t get a chance to do shorthand at all. I have friends slightly older than me who still use shorthand in their jobs and even for their shopping lists. When writing letters I use cursive writing, think it still looks pretty, sadly letter writing is getting less and less these days – funny though, I didn’t remember the style was known as ‘cursive’ until I read your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bonjour and merci beaucoup. I enjoyed writing the post. I loved typewriting ! Yes handwriting is called cursive here – quite the odd word. I need to look at its origin. Good to hear from you – Suz !


    2. I looked up the origin – very interesting and makes sense to me now – it comes from the Latin word currere – to run. As we run the letters together. Super cool !


      1. How interesting! I personally love the way an ‘s’ works in cursive. You have got me thinking about writing by hand more, life should be prettier!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It really should. I’ve done more cards and letters this year my self. I’ve enjoyed writing them – and receiving back responses has been even more fun. Have a great day !

        Liked by 1 person

  3. How come I see and get this today, March 4, 2023….. in my inbox? 1st I realised that this is like stenography and cursive, an ‘old’ thing, was seeing Osyth’ name…. oh I can’t even….


  4. Another skill that is rapidly disappearing is the skill of finding a particular item in an alphabetical list, like a dictionary. I noticed several years ago that my students could no longer do this, and recently I have had to admit that I am no longer any good at it myself. It’s so easy just to type in the first few letters and be presented with a list of possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As so true. As well as the Dewey Decimal system from the library. I work in a school and the library is now known as the media center. I haven’t been in there in a while, I wonder if they still have the old card catalogs. I’ll look today. Thanks for stopping by – I appreciate your time and comments. Suz!

      Liked by 1 person

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