• Mon, Dec 16 - 4:30 pm ET

I Don’t Care How Infrequently We Use It – Cursive Writing Should Still Be Taught

96502270The devolution of my signature is pretty horrifying. What used to be two elegant-looking words strung together at the end of any document I needed to sign, has devolved into one frantic, messy line. What happened? We started using computers and stopped using pens – that’s what. Although I realize it really isn’t practical for students to learn cursive writing anymore – I don’t care.Kids should know how to read any document written in English.

The signature, the ability to sign one’s own name with grace and confidence, has long been an essential marker of society. Today more and more I meet high school students who, though they can read, sometimes well and sometimes poorly, are ashamed whenever they are confronted with the need to sign a document. Students are sometimes too embarrassed to admit that they can’t read a piece of an important historical document or the comments of a teacher who writes in script. Script is not seen by students as some quaint relic of the past. Even among kids for whom academic achievement is hardly “cool,” students recognize the pedigree that the knowledge of the cursive alphabet and the ability to write it fluently represent. Cursive has become a status marker.

I think we are doing kids a huge disservice by not teaching them cursive. Shouldn’t all students be able to read historical documents, too? It’s not like I walk around reading historical documents all day, but I think it’s important to recognize writing in your own language. Am I just crazy for thinking kids should be able to read the Constitution without needing it translated? I get that we are moving more and more towards the exclusive use of computers and kids need to be taught proficiency with a keyboard – I just don’t understand why one needs to replace the other.

Connecting words is a quicker and easier way to write. Until we are at the point where computers have taken the place of pens and paper in all schools, we’re not doing students any favors by skipping over this skill. I took pride in my signature when I was younger. Kids should be able to experience this. You know – the cycle of life; create a signature, sign it with pride, get older and start using it more and more, become lazy and have it devolve into a messy line with no discernible characteristics.

It may be archaic – but I would hate to see it totally die.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    This is so weird. I’ve heard about this happening and it boggles my mind. If my son’s school won’t teach him cursive then I will. I mean, heck. I was taking notes by hand in school and reading and writing cursive was necessary for this. Kids aren’t bringing laptops to school with them now, are they? In elementary school?

    • AP

      It’ll become standard in a generation or two, though, once the young teachers are no longer able to read cursive. I switched school systems three times, and each had different rules about cursive, even from teacher to teacher. Some considered it mandatory, some tolerated it, and some banned it outright because it was too hard to read.

  • Lackadaisical

    In the UK we go to the other extreme. My youngest is four and although her class are not joining up everything yet they are being taught their letters in cursive script so it will be easier when she does. She is taught phonemes (teachers on here, have I that word right?) joined up so she joins “air”, “th” and “ck” for example. I volunteer with the year above (5 – 6 year olds) and they join and use cursive script. Teaching it so young makes it second nature but does provide an extra barrier to the less able kids when learning to write, particularly the statemented kids. While I think cursive does make writing quicker eventually I can appreciate that when my kids’ generation is adult they will be using electronic devices for writing more than pen and paper. My eldest was taught touch typing as part of a way of dealing with a combination of being left handed and dyslexic, and he also has extra classes in handwriting and fine motor control. While at school the hand writing classes will be a big help but in the long run touch typing may be more useful. I am personally glad my kids are taught cursive though.

  • Muggle

    I was apparently a member of the last class in my elementary school to learn cursive. Before then, I was in an English school that taught kids to join up some letters as “pre-cursive”, I guess (because when I came back to America and went to school here for the first time my teachers yelled at me for not “printing.”)

    Cursive is not that hard to read or write, and people still do write things by hand because it’s easier and faster. Printing is bullshit, it may be neater but it’s slower and then people start writing in this weird half-print, half-cursive style to save time and sanity.

    • meteor_echo

      What’s wrong with half-print, half-cursive? It’s handwritten yet easier to understand.

    • Muggle

      Nothing’s wrong with it, really, I just saw it as a starting point for learning cursive. That’s pretty much what my handwriting is now, anyway.

  • Savannah61

    I’m all for cursive, but only after they master print. I teach special ed & some of my kids still struggle to form all of their print letters correctly. Some of those kids are in grades that are introducing cursive & it just confuses them. However, I’ve found it to be a great motivator. I made a promise to a couple of my kids that as soon as they can master their print letters, I’ll teach them cursive.

  • EmmaFromÉire

    I find cursive so much faster and easier, and so much more pleasant to read. We had to learn cursive with fountain pens in school, and I’m so glad I did, because it’s actually a skill I use writing thank you cards in my job now!

  • Marianna

    Here in Brazil we learn to read and write in cursive. I remember being in preschool, when I started learning to read, and seeing the alphabet in cursive capital and lower case letters above the blackboard. We weren’t allowed to write in print, for tests and exams until high school. And if I remember correctly you’re only allowed to write in cursive in all the written exams to get into the different universities here, each university has their own exam. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’ve always used cursive, but I find it much easier to write using it than print.

    • Rachel Sea

      I taught myself to print after a few years at an American school (my primary school was French) because visual projects had to have text in print, and it took me some time to be comfortable with it.

  • Rachel Sea

    I’ve been doing research for work, which means reading a lot of old source documents from the 1850s, that are all in cursive. If I couldn’t read them, there is no way I would be able to gather this information on my own.

    • AP

      Cursive will become a prerequisite for certain graduate degrees, like foreign languages are now.

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    So, to get my Middle School teaching certificate, I actually had to complete a correspondence course with Zaner-Bloser (that company that does all the handwriting books from your childhood). They would mark it up and send it back and I’d have to do better the next time. It used to drive me insane as a busy college student with papers to write. Cursive F. Cursive U. you get the picture.

    My school district teaches D’nealian (pre-cursive) instead of print so it’s easier to go to cursive, but then it seems that not all teachers spend enough time on cursive. Reason: 10,000 other more pressing objectives to cover. By the time I get my sixth graders, some remember cursive, some don’t. If I wanted to seriously make them do it, I’d have to spend about a month reteaching it and correcting it (in sixth grade) and it would waste my objective time and piss parents off cause they’re too old…. So I let them do whatever. My principal will barely let me teach spelling anymore because, hello…computers!..And I should get with the times. So I can’t justify it. There just isn’t enough time, sadly…so if parents want their kids to know it, I guess they have to look up Zaner-Bloser and get on it.

    • Savannah61

      “10,000 other more pressing objectives to cover”
      Yes. This. While cursive is great, if my kids don’t know how to add or read on grade level, you can bet that’s what I’m going to work on-not cursive.

    • xvala

      This, too. We had cursive hammered into our skulls in 2nd grade (and this was about 20 years ago, so things might have changed by now). Which meant that there was drastically less time for math, which our teacher hated and which I had a hell of a time learning because I always felt rushed and like I never had enough time to absorb anything. Cursive is great, but not at the expense of learning how to do basic arithmetic.

  • Ptownsteveschick

    I started learning cursive in 3rd grade, by 5th grade they made us write everything in cursive because they said it would be expected in middle school because we were older and had to write like adults. Come 6th grade, no one ever mentioned it and I was never ever expected to use it again. It was so odd. My Grandma writes in cursive and my husband can’t read it. I swear soon all anyone will read is typing and no one will even know how to print anymore.

    • KarenMS

      I remember having similar anticipation that in middle school we would no longer be able to use pencil, just pen. Obviously untrue, but I vividly remember the anxiety.

  • Kasey

    I think it will be interesting (maybe sad) to see how people’s personal signatures evolve over time now that cursive is not prioritized as much as it was in the past.
    I write all of my notes in cursive because I find it quicker to write, but my S.O. has a hard time reading them. Mainly because he claims he has not used cursive since elementary school (he’s 5 years older than me).

  • JLH1986

    I primarily write in cursive, for me, it’s faster. My classmates write in print, but I’ve never been much for print. And my kids will be learning cursive, because signing your name is not the same as writing it.

    • http://ichasekids.com/ Litterboxjen

      When I’m in a rush for note-taking, absolutely is cursive faster. Sometimes even faster than typing.

      I remember babysitting some kids a million years ago that asked me to write out the alphabet in cursive so they could practice. I had to go back in the memory backs for a few of the letters whose versions I’ve adapted to my own style, but otherwise it was easy for me to do. I learned cursive in grade 2 (so when I was 7), and my teacher at the time told me my handwriting was “elasticky” — as a grown-up, I regularly got praised for my handwriting.

      I remember having practice handwriting classes in grade 7 (12 years old), and for fun I’d write every row with the letters slanting a different direction (and in a different colour). The teacher didn’t like that. :(

    • JLH1986

      Lame teacher! lol I have legible handwriting in print, I have decent cursive. And I was always the biggest fan of writing different words in different colors lol. I bet that teacher would wish for students like you now, instead of these “I can’t write in cursive” creatures.

  • NYBondLady

    When I see an adult write in print, I kind of cringe inside.
    Also, I think this ties in to the recent studies about ipads and development issues. Kids aren’t developing and mastering the hand-eye coordination and motor skills that come with writing, jumping, catching, etc. that traditional physical activity and pen-to-paper calls for.

  • barefootwithoutagun

    I’m left handed and have fairly good cursive, but my signature is a disaster. It starts off with a pretty strong ‘A’, then degenerates into the kind of scrawl that makes it look like someone started tickling me partway through. Mind you, if I’m forced to write out my fill and painfully long Finnish name, my hand starts aching, so I’m okay with the scrawl ;)

    • boots

      I completely understand – mine is Polish with plenty of ‘z’ thrown in for fun! living in australia meant that while cursive was taught, there wasn’t a great amount of emphasis on it. however, i had additional homeschooling by my mother and i’ve often been told that my hand writing is beautiful and ‘do you do calligraphy???’. no – i just write how i write (mind you, i’ve always thought my mother had beautiful handwriting, so maybe something was passed on?”

  • Amanda Lee

    I’m just curious… how old are most of you? They’ve been phasing out cursive for a while now. I’m almost mid 20s and learned cursive in the 3rd grade – had to write in cursive the whole year. After that, I only used it for one class in 4th grade. Never again. In my opinion, people should write however they want. It isn’t “more adult” to write in cursive. I prefer print and that’s how I write. As long as it’s legible, who cares?

    • Muggle

      I’m 21 and learned cursive in 3rd grade as well, but apparently my sister who was one grade behind me never learned it.

  • a

    I learnt cursive in like 3 grade, it looked like shit and I have never used it outside of the book we used back then. You lot make it sound like the world is ending just because people don’t write like you do/did and I can asure you that that’s not the case.