Writing Cursive Off?

By: Chaunte McClure

Like many of you, I spend more time key stroking than I do putting pen to paper, but I do occasionally write – in print and cursive. It just depends on what I’m writing and my mood. Yes, my mood determines my writing style, and even writing quality.

cursiveI came across an article today about legislators in Washington state considering a bill that would make teaching cursive handwriting mandatory in public schools. What?! It’s not already required? I’ve heard similar talk in the media before, but I guess I really didn’t take it seriously or didn’t think schools would actually remove cursive from the curriculum.

While I understand we use computers and other electronic devices in many careers and kids use tablets and laptops in schools, I am concerned about the idea of not teaching cursive.

I loved learning to write in cursive. I think I was in third grade when Mrs. Poston taught our class the art of cursive writing. I remember how she would slide the chalkboard liner across the dusty green chalkboard to make perfect lines and demonstrate how to write the upper and lowercase letters. Then we’d practice handwriting on paper. You remember the grayish-colored paper with the blue solid line, broken line, solid line pattern, right? Learning how to loop and join letters was so much fun. I loved it! All that practice helped improve my penmanship and boosted my writing confidence. I was always scribbling on paper, writing words or my name in cursive. I still find myself doing it, especially if I’m sitting in a boring meeting or as a warm-up exercise before I have to complete some type of document.

Knowing how to write in cursive made me feel like a big girl. I could do something that adults knew how to do. Is it a lost art? Should it become one?

Sure, times have changed, but I don’t think change has been so swift that kids should not learn cursive writing. What about signing their name? Will everything soon require an electronic signature? What if they have to research old, handwritten documents? How will they read them?

I guess I’m officially old school. I do have friends who prefer writing in print, but I wonder if they’re opposed to their kids learning cursive?

Raise your hand, or your voice, if you want to keep cursive in schools. Scroll down and express yourself in the comments.

8 thoughts on “Writing Cursive Off?

  1. I feel so fortunate that my children have learned how to write in cursive; our school still teaches it beginning towards the end of 1st grade/beginning of 2nd grade. My 2nd grader has to write his spelling words in cursive and his penmanship, while nowhere near perfect (of course mine isn’t either), is better than some printing I have seen from some older students. Not only will they be able to read important and/or historical documents, they also are forced to slow down and take their time when writing, a lost art in this day of instant gratification of text lingo and emojis . . . just my 2 cents.

    • Hello, Crissie. Thank you for your two cents. I’m sure you would’ve taught your kids how to write in cursive whether the school had or not. I believe you’re a great teacher (at school and home)!

  2. The Washington state senator who’s crusading to require cursive (Pam Roach) publicly admits that her own handwriting’s illegible.
    She also publicly states that it is not entirely cursive either.

    She broadcast this on January 25, on Washington’s KVI radio (second hour of the “Kirby” talk-radio show) 19 minutes, 20-through-45 seconds, into that second hour (in the middle of a segment on her bill).

    The segment runs from 13 minutes 49 seconds through 21 minutes 4 seconds of that recorded hour, which you can hear on the Internet: http://kvi.com/podcast/kirbycast-january-25th-hour-2

    Why should an illegible writer hold forth on the subject of handwriting instruction — particularly when her aim is to mandate (for millions of her fellow citizens) a way of writing that she does not follow herself?

    Still, she has a point. Handwriting matters. Reading cursive matters — but does writing cursive matter? Research shows that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are available on request.)

    Further research shows that the fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive. They join only the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving others unjoined, using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree. Teaching material for such practical handwriting abounds — especially in the UK and Europe, where this is taught at least as often as the accident-prone cursive that too many North American educators venerate. (Again, sources are available on request.)

    Reading cursive — which still matters — is much easier and quicker to master than writing cursive. Reading cursive can be mastered in just 30 to 60 minutes, even by kids who print.
    There’s even a free iPad app teaching how: called “Read Cursive.” Given the importance of reading cursive, why not teach it explicitly and quickly, for free, instead of leaving this vital skill to depend upon learning to write in cursive?

    Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by cursive textbook publisher Zaner-Bloser.. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. Most — 55% — wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.

    When even most handwriting teachers do not follow cursive, why glorify it?

    Cursive’s cheerleaders allege that cursive has benefits justifying absolutely anything said or done to promote it. Cheerleaders for cursive repeatedly allege research support — repeatedly citing studies that were misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant or by some other, earlier misrepresenter whom the claimant innocently trusts.

    What about cursive and signatures? Brace yourself: in state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)

    Questioned document examiners (specialists in the identification of signatures, verification of documents, etc.) find that the least forgeable signatures are plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if following cursive’s rules at all, are fairly complicated: easing forgery.

    All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual. That is how any first-grade teacher immediately discerns (from print-writing on unsigned work) which child produced it.

    Mandating cursive to save handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to save clothing.

    Kate Gladstone
    DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest
    CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works

  3. We have to think to the future. In 2030 how much will cursive matter? It hardly matters today. It doesn’t matter what it meant to the generations of the past. We are educating our children for careers that don’t even exist yet – and given the wave of technology they most certainly don’t include cursive handwriting. There are COUNTLESS things we no longer teach. I say teach typing earlier and younger in lieu of cursive.

  4. I believe that we should keep cursive writing in the home and the schools. We do not need to go backwards. My grandmother was 104 when she died and I remember her putting an X on the line for her signature. We need to move forward so that we will never, ever be used again.

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