Why not Wednesday? Cursive vs Typing

Apple IIc My first computer

“This report is not acceptable,” said the teacher.

My heart sank quickly. Not acceptable?! My little heart started to pound. I was frustrated. I took the time to jump through all the hoops: brainstorm, rough draft (mine were epic in rough) and final copy. I asked why.

“This paper was typed on a computer,” explained the teacher. “You need to learn how to write effective reports in cursive for college and jobs.”

“But I can’t write neat, I can type faster, and it uses up less paper, saving trees,” I replied quickly. “I don’t understand why my paper is not ok.”

“You must learn cursive. It’s what we use in the adult world,” said the teacher.

Not acceptable
New ideas or the start of a paradigm shift is often given the label “not acceptable.” The teacher’s reply was not acceptable to me. Of course, dad took the teacher’s side, I ended up having to write that paper. Now and then I would attempt the type-written paper, followed by the “please write in cursive” comment. such was Elementary school.

7th Grade
7th grade is a new start, so said the teachers. Great, I thought. My first assignment I walked up to the teacher and handed her two versions of my paper: one typed the other written in cursive.

“I was told in Elementary school reports had to be written in cursive. Which would you prefer?” I asked politely.

“Good, Lord, please type,” the teacher replied.

Legibility is more important than form. I printed my papers, or on tests I used print instead of cursive. The battle was being won. It was a happy day in my life.

9th Grade
At this point in my life my writing would not improve. I did not give my teachers the option, I typed and handed in my reports. Thanks to my English teacher, by typing I could focus more on form, grammar and creativity. Reports during our studies in Shakespeare I wrote in Iambic Pentameter.

This turned into another opportunity. Given my computer usage, I became a part of the “Citizens Technology Forum.” The goal for the group: develop and recommend a plan for technology usage in Middle & Elementary schools. (The High school was not included because of a pending building improvement program that was about to be voted on. It was voted down. Welcome to politics, but that’s another post.)

At the end of the meeting I was allowed to make some comments or observations. My other speaking allowance was to ask questions that did not make sense. My biggest comments was this:


  1. Typing will become more important than cursive.
  2. We should think multiple computers per classroom, not one.
  3. Long term, we should think a laptop per student.

The rebuttals were:

  1. Learning cursive is essential for college and the workplace. (sigh.)
  2. Computer should be for teacher use, and internet may not catch on.
  3. The wiring required for each desk would be prohibitive, not to mention cost per laptop.

The team recommended a solid and helpful plan. It moved the ball forward. The biggest high light for me was a thank you letter sent by my Elementary principal. One summer I ran into him during winter break from college. We laughed at the paradigm shift.

The bottom line:
1) Don’t cringe when the new idea is said to be “not acceptable.” In college & seminary I used a laptop. The biggest statement by all places I’ve worked for: typing & technology ability. Being cutting edge is hard, often considered unacceptable, etc. In time things will come around.

2)Don’t ignore things you say are “not acceptable.” New ideas or breaking into a new area is often unrefined, rough and edgy at first. (This is often from lack of support or advice.) Andy Stanley put it best: “You can fight it, or you can fund it.”

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