National Handwriting Day was started to re-introduce people to a pen and a piece of paper. “It is a chance for all to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting,” says it’s founder.
That brought me to wondering about the history of handwriting – or cursive.
The following information from Wikipedia is fascinating:
Cursive, also known as longhand, script, handwriting, looped writing, joined-up writing, joint writing, or running writing is “any style of penmanship in which the symbols of the language are written in a conjoined and/or flowing manner, generally for the purpose of making writing faster.”
Because of its ability to make writing faster, cursive is used in many cultures with many different types of alphabets. Some examples include:
Cursive handwriting developed into something approximating its current form from the 17th century, but its use was neither uniform, nor standardized either in England itself or elsewhere in the British Empire.
In both the British Empire and the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, before the typewriter, professionals used cursive for their correspondence.
This was called a “fair hand”, meaning it looked good, and firms trained their clerks to write in exactly the same script.
After the 1960s, a movement originally begun by Paul Standard in the 1930s to replace looped cursive with cursive italic penmanship resurfaced.
It was motivated by the claim that cursive instruction was more difficult than it needed to be: that conventional (looped) cursive was unnecessary, and it was easier to write in cursive italic. You can see the difference here:
Because of the widespread use of computers “which have nearly taken the handwritten word to extinction,” researchers set out to test the effectiveness of both mediums.
In a study done by Pam Mueller which compared scores of students who took notes by hand and via laptop computer showed that students who took notes by hand had advantages in both factual and conceptual learning.
This brings us back to the on-going controversy of whether schools should be teaching cursive or not. You can read more about that here.