How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive

My Object Lessons essay, “How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive“, is now up at The Atlantic.  (Woot!)

I’ll likely be posting some follow-up thoughts and photos that didn’t get used for the piece here later.  (I will read comments here but if you have a real rebuttal you’re waiting to pull out, might as well wait until my next blog post.)

Edit: For all of you wondering why I even thought this was worth writing about, a) you should probably read all the way to the last paragraph, and b) you should read this older stream-of-thought post where I connect my thoughts on cursive to other areas of teaching and learning.

Also, huh, my essay topped The Atlantic’s “Most Popular” list for the better part of the weekend. Thanks Internet! Apparently I’m not the only one wondering what happened to their writing style.

4 thoughts on “How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive

  1. I really enjoyed this article. I was curious about one thing by the time I was done… What pen do YOU use? 😉

    I love my fountain pen, and also play around with a dip pen and various quills, too. I read that you are an artist. Do you use a pen in your art?

    1. I use a Lamy Vista, too ( — with a 1.5mm Italic nib. What’s your own choice of nib?

      NOTE: Before finding your blog, and learning with pleasure that a further post on handwriting is on its way, I’d posted a long response (NOT a rebuttal at all) under the ATLANTIC article itself.

      Kate Gladstone •
      Director, World Handwriting Contest
      Member, the Society for Italic Handwriting

      1. Nice! I use a non-italic (ball? I forget if that’s what it’s called) fine nib. I also recently got a Cross Classic Century fountain pen as a gift; I can finally have two colors ready to go at the same time with fountain pens! (Although the Century is still taking some getting used to; the narrow cylindrical barrel is definitely more finicky than the Vista’s!)

        Also, if you wanted to repost the long response here that’d be great; that comment thread on The Atlantic is pretty massive and I can’t actually find your response there!

      2. Thanks! I use a Lamy Vista. (I had linked to Lamy’s site in an earlier draft of the article but it got edited out and forgot to mention it by name!)

        Most of the art I do is digital, but I have tried to pick up drawing recently, and my fountain pen was a great tool in getting me over the need to erase everything that doesn’t feel “perfect”.

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