The New Dinosaurs

Recently, I got around to reading an article in the Winter 2017 SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Bulletin—a quarterly publication. It had been in my bathroom for, oh, at least seven months. The title of the article—“Signing Books in Cursive?”—has a subtitle, “Children Might Not Be Able to Read It.” In the article, an author mentioned how she stopped signing books in cursive after her daughter and other teens warned her that kids wouldn’t be able to read her writing. The article went on to discuss how many teachers have stopped teaching cursive writing.

As I read the article, I was a little dismayed. I wondered how children who aren’t taught to read cursive writing would ever sign a check. And then it dawned on me: many people don’t use checks. They pay online with a credit card. Maybe by the time these kids grow up, they won’t even order checks.

I still use a check to pay rent and some bills like car insurance. And I sign the back of a check when I deposit it at the bank. (Beats chiseling rocks like we did back in the Stone Age.) And—something else that’s new—I don’t have to physically go to the bank to deposit checks. I can deposit them through my phone. (Though I choose not to do that. I’m still old school in some ways.)

It’s interesting to note what is now considered a relic of the past like the dinosaurs. I never imagined that cursive writing would be considered a thing of the past.

Contracts have changed also. Twelve years ago, I received a book contract in the mail—ten pages of legalese on 8½ × 14-inch paper with spaces for me to sign in cursive. Last year, I received a contract attached to an email that required a code to open. I “signed” it on the document (printed my name, really).

How times have changed.

What are some things you’ve been made aware of recently that are considered to be relics of the past? How do you feel about that?

Cursive writing image from Photos by L. Marie.

37 thoughts on “The New Dinosaurs

  1. Cursive going away isn’t too surprising to me. I remember learning it, but then it was never used beyond signing my name. Even now, I don’t have to be neat the few times I do it. So, it doesn’t really come off as useful as it used to be. Although, I have heard that many teachers are going over it at least for the basics. Trying to think of things that went obsolete in my time and the oddest one is answering machines/voicemails. People don’t like leaving messages any more because you have texting and emails.

    • I’m glad some teachers are at least teaching the basics if just so children will learn how to sign their names and recognize letters written in cursive.

      I remember having a landline with an answering machine. I rejoiced when voice mail arrived. I don’t miss the answering machine.

  2. I was at my MFA program in Ohio this summer and had pulled out a map of Ohio to study my route. My young 20-something roommate said incredulously, “You’re reading a MAP?” I told her I only look at GPS for finding specific addresses in a city or something. For the big picture, always a map. I’ve been sent too many weird ways by GPS. I don’t know how many kids even understand how to read maps or the wealth of information on them.

    • Have you graduated, Linda? If so, congratulations! How sad that your reading a map was questioned.

      I rarely use GPS. It throws off my sense of direction. I will only use it in a completely unfamiliar area. Otherwise, I try not to use it. And I agree that GPS takes you weird ways. The app I have always avoids the tollway, which is often the quickest way to get somewhere. 😕 🙁

  3. It seems that electronic ‘signing’ of contracts and such are basically taking on the form of making one’s ‘mark’ rather than individual handwriting of one’s name. So it follows that it’s a form of backwards evolution with technology IMHO!
    However, even organic printing of one’s name is still individualized…In this age of extremes taken to be ‘different’ – here technology levels that playing field in such a vacuous manner.

    Also, this ties in with my soapbox of: Why does it have to be ‘either/or’ why not ‘in addition to’? With something as simple as handwriting for goodness’ sake, this should be a no-brainer!

    Just sayin’…

    • I know what you mean, Laura. Having spent a year on jury duty where fraud cases proliferated, I’ve seen how easy it is for people to steal money from others simply because of technology.

  4. When I was at school, there was still a requirement for lots of University degrees for you to have studied Latin, so I did. Now I think almost no one does, and like Jill I wonder about the historians of the future. As far as cheques are concerned, I only have one bill I still pay by cheque and as a result I always forget to pay it! I don’t know about writing – the old fogey in me regrets that kids so rarely write physically now, but I guess if I was young I’d be puzzled as to why old people think it’s important…

    • Some schools of a classical nature here still teach Latin, FF. I know several kids who have taken it, since it’s required. None of them regretted taking it.

      I’ve begun writing letters to people now. I used to regret it. But I see the value in keeping up with my handwriting. 😀 😃 😄 😁

  5. I have no choice but to deposit checks by phone because my local branch closed and the nearest one is a long walk away (live in city with no car). I’m now in a banking desert. What old timey thing do I miss? The telephone book. An all-purpose tool to boost short people at the dining room table and find characters’ names.

  6. Being served by ‘real people’ seems to be on the wane too. Self-service supermarkets, banks, libraries, it seems everywhere there is a slimming down staff to serve us. I make a point of making a beeline for the tills and desks that have people working on them. I much prefer this interaction. Machines don’t understand my jokes, or even pretend to.

  7. The learning of cursive writing was an education to the requirement of perfect work and elegance. It also went with an exigence of a perfect spelling and grammar .. It was the mark of a cultivated mind..
    Love ❤

  8. We sent our last tax bill via the internet, including our signature, which was signed on screen. I can’t begin to tell you how much that rattled me. I signed for a delivery on a handheld device. The delivery wasn’t for me, was prescribed drugs, and my signature did not look like my signature should, distorted by the device. I have watched folks ahead of me in the grocery line using their credit card and barely even pretending they were signing the screen with their own signature. Sigh.

    I am a product of the Palmer Perfect method of cursive. I loved, still do, cursive. There is the movement and personal style of penmanship that I perfected. I doubt that my grandchildren, who are in an excellent school system, will learn cursive.

    I have, however, heard of quite a few area schools who offer cursive as an add on activity, like an after-school program. Excuse me, now, I’m going to sit at the kitchen table and practice my cursive m’s and r’s. 🙂

    • Good for you, Penny! I remember how much penmanship was stressed when I was growing up. I’m glad some schools are at least offering the opportunity to learn cursive.

      My signature is barely legible whenever I sign devices. 😕

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