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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Photo by quinn.anya


.1 years ago

This is a great post; it was very edifying. I look ahead in reading more of your work.

Natalie Rusu
Natalie Rusu6 years ago

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

jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago

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!

Joy Jin
Joy Jin6 years ago

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

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener6 years ago

Why not, it improves dexterity!

Ann K.
Past Member 6 years ago

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.

Lindy E.
Belinda E6 years ago

@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.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

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

Bianca D
Bianca D6 years ago

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

Let's keep those neurons sparkin'!!

Katie B.
Katie B.6 years ago

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.