Fellow nerds who were super into calligraphy as kids: apparently no one's into handwriting anymore. I know: Next you're gonna tell us nerds aren't blending their own perfumes that all smell the same!
Whereas once third grade was necessarily given over to the tedium of copying curls and loops, now it seems kids aren't learning cursive, and when they are, they won't use it. "It's a bit like going for a root canal for them," says one teacher. Apparently only 15% of students wrote their SAT essays in script, opting instead for block print. Most experts blame the "digital age" for this disinclination to write; while people have long known how to type, now there's apparently very little call for handwriting at all. "Unless you use it, you lose it," says another teacher.
What's odd about this is...once you learn cursive, isn't it easier and faster than printing? To say nothing of the purely sensuous pleasure of gliding a good pen, uninterrupted, across a page. And is the concept of "handwriting" — revealer of character, neuroses, criminal identity — a thing of the past? For generations of kids, handwriting conformed to the stringent dictates of the Palmer Method, a school of handwriting instruction that resulted in the distinctive, homogenous spidery penmanship we associate with the 19th and early 20th centuries. The abandonment of this method may have been regarded as a small triumph for individuality, but it's ironic that kids are now voluntarily opting for a more uniform sort of writing again.
Incidentally, I'm a sucker for bad penmanship. I've always loved the vulnerability of a little boy scrawl; apparently this, in itself, now dates me — and widens the holding pen for my "type" dramatically. That's a small casualty though; the decline of penmanship provokes in me a serious strain of old-womanish regret for lost arts, even as it's sort of awesome to actually be on the tail end of such a dying art! I didn't know we possessed any! Because writing was something that, unlike long division and kickball, was actually a "grown up" life skill, plus a small measure of artistry brought to even the most quotidian every day. My regret is not for something vague and societal and regimented; rather, it's the loss of a small satisfaction and a very real pleasure. Kids today don't know what they're missing...even if I'll apparently be crushing on all of them.