Thursday, October 1, 2009

Curses--I mean Cursive!

Does anyone care about cursive anymore?

This was the title of an article in our local newspaper and it reminded me of many conversations that I have had with parents. Do their children need cursive? Many schools have dropped the formal training in cursive, or have short lessons on it in 3rd grade and never touch on it again. Does it matter?

I am not sure. What do you think? In this computer/phone/texting culture, why do we need cursive? I rarely write cursive and my husband has printed for years. In fact, I am not sure if I ever saw him write much more than his name in cursive in the past 35+ years.

In years past cursive was important because it was faster than printing so all correspondence could be sped up if they writer wrote in cursive. But now just about everything that takes time such as work or school reports, Christmas letters, letters to the editor, personal journals and so on are done in some type of word processing program. Most of us only use pen and ink for signatures, shopping lists, short memos and a few other applications. Like many people I don't even keep a hand written calender anymore, I use a Google Calendar and print it out a month or so at a time.

The article said that cursive writing in an art that helps teach children muscle control and hand-eye coordination. I suppose the same could be said of a key board, Wii controller or text messaging. The article concluded rather lamely what one teacher says "I just tell children, what if we are on an island and we don't have electricity? One of the ways we communicate is through writing."

What? I mean if we don't have electricity, probably we won't be too worried about writing correspondance, we will communicate by talking or making symbols on tree bark or making signal fires so someone will rescue us. In that scenario I think that a wilderness survival class might be more in line. [I actually taught a seminar in wilderness survival years ago, so ask me if you have further questions.]

For my kids, I really wanted them to be able to be able to write and print legibly and to be able to read traditional cursive. Out of my five children, three learned traditional handwriting, one child learned italic cursive and one used Handwriting Without Tears [both untraditional cursive programs] I wanted them to be able to read traditional Spencerian Cursive because I wanted them to be able to read letters from their grandma. Silly, huh?

And I think any thing that instills some discipline is good.

But, I think my children's children will not need to know cursive to be able to read my letters because I type everything. And, if they do need to learn how to read it, my advice is to have them type their reports using a cursive font. They can always change the font if they need to, but if they type with a cursive font they will know enough cursive to read it and whether they can write in cursive is not that important.

I advise parents to have their children learn to communicate in a legible way and to learn touch keyboarding in elementary school. I am not sure cursive is as important as it once was, but it is not a bad thing to learn it either.

So, what do you think? Does anyone care about cursive anymore?


  1. Very interesting. In college, I switched back to printing if I needed to make note of something. My cursive was, by then, illegible.

    I'm very happy that I can do both, and that is a great point that you should be able to read both. But typing... typing the reality today.


  2. I think you make some great points in your post. Learning to type quickly is certainly a very useful skill and typing in a cursive font would be a great way to get better at reading cursive. UK cursive is not as complicated as the US cursive style.

  3. As a teacher for 30+ years, I agree with Jill that I don't know any real valid reason to learn cursive except again for fine motor coordination. Maybe it is a "self discipline" like tying your you REALLY need to know? You DON"T have to wear tie shoes....velcro and slip ons are readily available....back in the day....both of these were milestones as you grew up....I am not sure what the milestones are today....It will be interesting to watch and see as my grandchildren grow up.