This is mostly for a school work I have to do (Study quantitative and qualitative... Something) and I think this is the best place to annoy people with questions, survey, w/e.
So the thing is I'm studying the use of Cursive writing, the one I suspect many (including myself) were forced to learn somewhere in primary school.
I've included a poll, but I'd really like if you guys could give me a little background on the questions... Is it customary in your country/region to learn cursive? Do you use it? Do you guys think it should be thaught in school? I've read about some law in the US that has canceled the teaching of cursive.
Hope I'm making myself clear, and thanks for yer time, lads
Question 1: To be honest, I do not know if it is customary or not. I just know that it was taught in the primary school I attended. It was required, and it got me away from doing arithmetic, so I went along with it, as did I am sure the majority of the class.
Question 2: Of course, it is a concept whose results turn out to be the same as algebra; you never use it, nor is these any need to. In fact, I am not even sure if I remember how to write cursive, since it was so long ago.
Question 3: Teaching it in school is not at all important, so I do not see the need. Sure, if the child is an artist, then use cursive as the stepping stone to eventually get to calligraphy. Even then, keep cursive in art class where it belongs. For those of us who cannot draw worth a damn, just don't even bother trying to make us learn cursive. It is pointless, useless, and will never be used in real life.
Cursive is known simply as 'joined-up' for the most part in the UK. To my knowledge everybody I know of is capable of using it*, and chooses to use it by default. I can't remember whether it was required when I was at school, or whether it was simply encouraged. I do recall that when I first learned to write, my handwriting was of the basic, non-joined, lower-case variety common to all children. By the end of primary school however I was writing in joined-up by default. I have vague memories of my teacher at the time explaining the virtues of joined-up writing, but I can't remember whether it was as part of a lesson or just his personal opinion. Given that everybody I know writes joined-up, it may simply be standard procedure to teach this to children.
So I can use it (in a manner of speaking), but choose to write in block capitals for clarity - which is apparently unusual, as far as most people around me are concerned. I figure though, that once you're out of school, the only times you'll ever write anything down with a pen again is when you fill out forms or write a shopping list - neither activity requiring significant alacrity. Even the PostIt has been replaced by computer programs in offices, at least in every office I've worked at.
As I haven't used my fountain pen in years, and no longer have to write anything at speed, I see no need to sully the legibility of what I do write on the rare occasion when I'm forced to do so.
It's been a while, but I broke out the pen and paper to demonstrate what I mean. I'm a little rusty at the old penmanship (haven't written anything joined-up since my A-level years I don't think) but my point stands:
In my opinion, the block capitals are going to be legible for more people more easily. I made this decision, like I said, during my A-level years, when I was reviewing some of my earlier exercise books and found that even I was struggling to read my own handwriting. It gets progressively messier as your hand tires, after all, particularly when you're writing down the dictations of some lazy teacher who couldn't be bothered to teach us anything beyond reading the contents of a text book. So I switched - a difficult transition that led to me accidentally joining up the capitals for a while (which should say something about how 'normal' it is to write joined-up around here, given that I struggled to stop).
I don't think any particular style of writing should be forced in school. Aside from the fact that as a skill it has diminishing importance anyway, I also think that people should find whichever style they are most comfortable using. I actually found it faster to write in block capitals when I did that, but that's probably because that's what I've become used to.
In my opinion, shorthand is the best writing skill to learn if you want to write quickly, though it's more like another language than a handwriting technique. Journalists use a few different systems, see if you can learn one of those. And if you want to write legibly, either be more careful when using whatever handwriting technique you use now, or switch to something more legible like I chose to do.
* I was even surprised that this thread needed to exist, until I did a little research and found that apparently it's an issue in the United States. Might be an issue here too, but not one I've ever heard of - like I said, I thought everybody wrote in 'cursive'.
Last edited by Mr. Matt; November 30th, 2012 at 05:01 AM.
As you can see, getting me to write in cursive is a mistake. It took some considerable time to write that. Partly because I have a problem reproducing small, complex movements, partly because it's in pen for the benefit of the camera (I find it much easier to write with a pencil,) and partly because I just haven't had much cause to use it in more than six years. The last time I wrote much on paper was for my A Levels, before that I didn't have much cause to write anything on paper either. It's a nearly worthless skill unless you, for some reason, are sending a written memo to someone who doesn't know shorthand.
As I've mentioned elsewhere, I feel that shorthand is something that should be taught in schools and something we're missing a trick in not teaching. Because, it allows for an incredible compression of information for both writing and reading. When you add up all the time we spend doing those activities it would create incredible savings to do them even a little faster.
Shorthand is so good that it still beats typing in terms of speed. T-line, the slowest of the systems to my knowledge, is basically an optimised Alphabet. Very easy to learn - not really like another language like some of the other systems. I believe it's the journalism standard in the commonwealth. Other systems of shorthand tend to be based more on pronunciation than an optimised alphabet and simplified spelling - but take considerably more effort to learn (using cursive as an assumed starting point.) However, if you were learning from the start, then something like Pitman could well be the way to go. Certainly those sorts of systems allow you to attain a higher speed of writing.
Shorthand is so good that it still beats typing in terms of speed. T-line, the slowest of the systems to my knowledge, is basically an optimised Alphabet. Very easy to learn - not really like another language like some of the other systems. I believe it's the journalism standard in the commonwealth.
Teeline is still completely incomprehensible to anybody who hasn't learned it, but you're right in that it's much easier to learn. Someone I worked with tried to teach it to me a few years ago, and as you say, a lot of it simply involves swapping letters of the alphabet for easier-to-write symbols. Though some sounds and common words are replaced too, and I couldn't really tell you which ones - I gave up on trying to learn it when I pointed out the following to my colleague, and he had no answer for it:
Journalists these days have switched to technology for their note-taking needs. When I worked for the local rag I never saw hide nor hair of Teeline or any other form of shorthand. Phones with recording capabilities, and even old-school Dictaphones, however, were all the rage. Shorthand is still taught on journalism courses, but, I've never seen anybody actually use it.
If I'd had an iPhone at school, I'd have had considerably less writer's cramp back then, I can tell you that much. How much easier it would have been to just record all that dictation... if teachers are going to insist on dictation as a means of plodding through poorly-planned lessons, they should allow all students to carry some means of recording apparatus.
Handwriting, as you say, is a dying skill in the vocational world. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it should ever be excluded from the curriculum, even a distant future where pens may not exist outside of schools - you don't want the human race to forget how to write without the aid of a computer, just in case some kind of disaster strikes that sends us back to the stone age - but I don't think it needs nearly as much emphasis as this thread would suggest.
Get 'em writing legibly, then teach 'em to type. Everything else can be recorded much more easily.
Any further lessons, as Lindale suggests, would be best left for the artists of the world.
If you'd had an iPhone in school, I think you'd have found it very difficult to use for notes. IME, there are two main problems with recording everything:
Firstly, someone speaking is much slower than your reading speed.
Secondly, it's very hard to search through the information.
If you want to make practical use of a recording, you have to go through and transcribe the bits you want. Something which can easily take you the length of the lecture over again. Oh, you can generally drop little bookmarks into the recording on a dictaphone. However, it's not as good as just having it written there and the bookmarks aren't tagged with the subject or anything like that. Especially when you get into wanting to cross reference what people have said against other things they've said that you haven't planned for, it's a real bother to be going back through twenty or thirty hours worth of recordings.
For journalists that's arguably less of an issue. They only get to have an interview the once and it's generally fairly short, so it makes sense for them to put all their attention there and then either spend some of their own time later on transcribing/searching through it or to pay someone else to transcribe it for them.
It's similar with minute-taking. I've taken minutes on a dictaphone before and for the amount of typing you have to do after the fact you're not really saving yourself that much time.
But none of that's likely to be relevant in day to day work. How many notes does someone working truly need to take?
I can see, if we got handwriting recognition working acceptably, that shorthand might be a good input method for computers in professions where people need to do a lot of text input. Secretarial work and the like. But other than that.... Historically that is what killed off shorthand - we started doing everything on computers and it's popularity just nosedived because even if you took the notes in shorthand you'd just have to type them out again afterwards.
On the other side of things, and what I find to be a stronger argument for learning some sort of simplified system: reading the alphabet we use at the moment is not particularly fast. The words it produces don't have particularly distinctive silhouettes. This is one of the reasons why people like you to 1.5 or double space things in essays - because, when you've got it all bunched in together like this, even the forms of the letters start to blur together; it just turns into an alphabet soup. The bad kerning on a lot of fonts doesn't help issues any, but that's a band-aid, not a fix. Whereas, I can see that moving towards some sort of simplified system - which produce much more distinctive silhouettes and places more information in a smaller space - will produce a much faster standard of communication in that regard.
Certainly that's been my experience of reading the things anyway. We don't want to go as far as putting everything in kanji, or some analogue thereof, because that makes the language itself very hard to learn. But this alphabet is just sort of something that's evolved, rather than been rationally designed, and if we were rejigging stuff we could do a lot better.
To my mind the big thing in the next ten to twenty years is going to be getting voice recognition nailed by use of context-checking algorithms. Moving beyond tri-grams and looking at the word in the context of the last sentence, the last paragraph - does what was just said make sense. If we do that, then shorthand will have such a limited use that... well, I doubt it will be known of by anyone but history nerds.
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- Larry, Burn Notice
Last edited by Nemmerle; November 30th, 2012 at 07:42 AM.
Secondly, it's very hard to search through the information.
Bloody easier than trying to read extended loads of my handwriting, I can tell you that much.
Otherwise, you're right in that proper voice recognition will make recording much more useful in situations like that. It's come a long way already, I reckon it'll only be a smattering of years before it's as usable as the voice recognition in Star Trek. The biggest problem with it, I think, is that voice recognition software always seems to be developed in America, and people with regional dialects in the UK struggle to get it to work.
As for the evolution of the English language, it's hard enough to get people to spell things properly now, in an age of textspeak. If anything's going to take over in the future, it'll be textspeak.
I'm sure there was a story a few years back about somebody in the UK who'd written their GCSE essay entirely in textspeak, actually. I'll have to see if I can find it again...
I'm not afraid of admitting that my handwriting is the literary equivalent of an apocalyptic event. Only good thing is that it's impossible to fake it. Even if you broke your wrists and dipped your fingers in concrete, you'd still be able to do a better job of handwriting than I can. That said, I definitely think it's useful. It's fast, excellent for concise messages, and overall looks good on paper.
I had to learn cursive when I was in elementary school, but to be honest I can't remember how to write a basic sentence in cursive anymore. It was only taught in the earlier grades and from what I can remember it wasn't really encouraged later on.
I know people who continue to write in cursive on a daily basis, mostly older people though. My 90-year old grandmother only writes in cursive, it's hard to read sometimes but that can be attributed to English being her second language. My parents still write in cursive, as does one of my friends. Another one of my friends writes exclusively in capital letters, it's like he's got caps lock stuck on in his brain. My writing is just plain messy, a product of taking fast-paced, meticulous lecture notes throughout university.
I guess it should still be taught in schools, what's the harm really? Kids should be encouraged to hand write stuff for as long as possible before we shove keyboards in their faces and tell them to type. You start off learning math by showing all your work on the paper before you're allowed to let a calculator do all the work for you, right?
"Do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?" - Mark McGwire
I learned cursive back when I was in early years of grade school; never used it after that except for signatures. The only capital letters I still remember how to write are my initials, but my opinion is:
It's harder to learn, illegible (especially by physicians), and ultimately useless in this day and age.
Imperial lettering is much easier to read and write.
On the topic of notes:
I remember the first day I was in economics class, I wrote five pages worth of notes. So I said, "fuck that" and just started using my netbook because that's one of the few classes that is very relaxed in regards to technology usage. Tbh, note-taking is bullshit to begin with as far as schooling is concerned. I mean what is the purpose of notes? To remember important stuff to pass tests. So it's not there for you to learn, unless you have some grand genius who gives you specific notes that are pretty much secret answers. If I want notes, I'll probably read the stuff and commit it to memory. Not everyone is like that, of course, but I find handwritten note-taking to be a complete waste of time.
Case in point, a lot of intro history courses are just using multiple-choice tests, so I took no notes after the first few weeks. All I did was look at the syllabus, check the study guide, and then I studied only the pertinent tidbits. And I ended up receiving something just short of an A for the whole class.
You think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you.
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger,
You'll learn things you never knew, you never knew.
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