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Should Kids Still Learn to Write in Cursive?

Should Kids Still Learn to Write in Cursive?


Public schools in Indiana will no longer be required to teach students cursive writing come next fall, says the Students will instead be required to be proficient in keyboard use.

That is, good-bye D’Nealian; hello QWERTY.

My handwriting has completely declined — degenerated — since I carefully wrote and rewrote “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” even as the muscles in my thumb have evolved a new dexterity to type on a tiny touchscreen. Rare is the time now when I pull out a scrap of paper to jot a note on. The odds of my losing the piece of paper are embarrassingly high and all the more as I use my cell phone instead.

But as the points out, students still need to practice their penmanship — to write their signature, for one thing — and to be able to read other people’s handwriting, not to mention to write essays for standardized tests. While typing on an electronic keyboard is faster for students and easier for teachers to read (decode), I still prefer to have my college students write out in-class tests and exams by hand, as it means I can tell them to put away all electronic devices and avoid cheating-via-Google-search.

For my husband Jim, learning cursive was something more than a chore (exacerbated by the fact that his teachers were nuns in the 1960s). To this day, his writing is, well, not exactly legible by anyone (his f, i, r, s, t and other letters are sort of look alike). Our son, Charlie struggles mightily with the fine motor movements needed to write, despite years of efforts (including using the Handwriting Without Tears method). The ubiquity of devices with keyboards, not to mention email and texting, has been a very good thing for making sure the message doesn’t get lost in writing that resembles, as they say, “chicken scratch.”

It’s only very recently, indeed, that we’ve expected everyone to read and to write. In the 1960s (back when Jim was laboring away under the eyes of those nuns in their full habits), some were already arguing that cursive instruction was over-complicated, and called for a simplified form (like D’Nealian). Should more education departments follow Indiana’s and let an “archaic” practice go by the wayside — or is there some value and need still to learn to connecting i’s and t’s, and dotting and crossing them, too?

If you are feeling that you have handwriting nostalgia, here’s a video about how to write in cursive:

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7:42AM PST on Nov 15, 2011

This is, at least to say, OUTRAGEOUS! But it is probably just my European mentality....

12:23PM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Why bother with school at all! We no longer teach geography, physical education, economics, arts, music, science, home economics, vocational skills, or history. Even English has been watered down to only cover reading for a standardized exam. Math is no longer addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Kids can't make change without the register telling them the correct amount. We no longer need to write. The computer can do everything for us. Maybe tomorrow it will also do our thinking for us!

3:12PM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

Yes! Cursive is fundamental and traditional. We can't let technology get in the way of learning.

7:58PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Why not, it improves dexterity!

6:43PM PDT on Aug 11, 2011

I still send and receive hand written letters. It is like a special gift when one arrives. I guess thank you cards and invitations will only be online. Fast and easy seems to be what the majority wants for our future and our children.

8:39PM PDT on Jul 30, 2011

@Bianca B: Please note that the Huffington Post article, "Why Does Writing Make Us Smarter," does not use the word "cursive" once in the entire article. It is talking about handwriting, which includes block printing, cursive, and more.

3:41PM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

I get that writing is important (and in fact I love to write and hate to type) but why is CURSIVE so important? it is harder to read and was never really used except when they taught it to us. Really the only time I've ever USED cursive is to sign my name

9:46PM PDT on Jul 18, 2011

Just came across this study - "Why does writing make us smarter?":

Let's keep those neurons sparkin'!!

6:26AM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

I think perhaps some on here don't understand the difference between cursive and printing. I think we much have some form of writing, but I see that we probably could do without the cursive. As far as a signature on an application and such they always ask you to print it too. I guess that people could make their signature unique in printing. Maybe.

5:33AM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Well, ya know, you non cursives are winning me over. I am over 50 and just about the only time I write in cursive is when I write my signature, so may each child should just learn to write their signature in cursive and take the rest as an elective. I started printing because it was easier to read, and I can do it quicker. I also took some college courses and most of my notes were printed. I do like that we have some cursive fonts on Microsoft and such, and If a person really wants to learn it they could learn their own style from that. It is just sad that yet another one of the things that have been familiar to my generation are passing away. But, definitely don't do away with printing. I believe it is a dire need, as you say, for when the electronic stuff shuts down. I do like to see a beautiful hand of cursive writing through. Perhaps it could be taught in art classes. Perhaps.

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