OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Lunch time at Johnson County Community College and the food court is full. Laurie Smith quietly sits in a corner getting some last minute studying done. After a quick glance, she is in rare company. While others type away on computer keyboards, tap furiously on phones texting, or tune out listening to iPods, Smith pulls out a pen and paper to take notes. She is one of only two people in the whole room writing out notes - by hand.
Clean neat block letters fill the page. Smith is outlining a chapter from a textbook. "My handwriting isn't the greatest," said Smith. "So cursive would be… I'd have to get a decoder ring."
She isn't alone. Elementary schools are moving away from teaching cursive writing in favor of easier printing. Either form communicates with the written word but some people believe cursive writing shows a greater respect for language.
Jason Maltsbarger, adjunct assistant professor at JCCC said, "I think signatures, handwriting, cursive… that stuff is maybe a species of this bigger argument which is like, where are we going as a culture?"
Maltsbarger thinks the loss of handwriting takes away some of the humanity of communication. Technological advances have made writing a more cumbersome process than typing or using voice to text options on smart phones. Even acronyms have entered the writing process.
"There is a price to pay," said Maltsbarger. "I don't know what that price is going to be yet."
More college students are not using cursive.
"Some people have even wondered she I still use cursive," said Josh Edwards.
Edwards says he uses cursive everyday but not everyone at his lunch table follows his lead.
"Writing checks, I use cursive to write my signature but really, I really don't use cursive that often," said Justin Pemberton.
If the trend away from cursive and handwriting continues, Maltsbarger takes an overdramatic approach to what could happen.
"They become functionally illiterate in terms of their ability to express," said Maltsbarger. "You see that also with emoticons and you see that with acronyms like LOL, OMG."
He adds that this idea could become a reality if the pendulum keeps swinging the way it is heading but like all pendulums it will eventually swing back toward the middle. Maltsbarger hopes sooner than later.